Verry Elleegant owner tests positive for Covid after Melbourne Cup

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Verry Elleegant owners Brae Sokolski and Ozzie Kheir, pictured here celebrating with the Melbourne Cup.
Verry Elleegant owners Brae Sokolski and Ozzie Kheir celebrate with the Melbourne Cup. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Verry Elleegant owner Ozzie Kheir has tested positive for Covid-19 in the wake of Melbourne Cup celebrations last week.

Kheir confirmed to the Herald Sun that he tested positive last Friday and has been isolating at home.

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“I thought maybe it was alcohol withdrawal after Saturday and Tuesday but the test came back positive," he said.

“In all seriousness though I have no symptoms and feel perfectly fine.

“I’m not sure what has happened, they said it could have been from anything and they just don’t know. Obviously all my friends and family have been tested.”

Victoria's Department of Health has reportedly urged anyone who attended celebrations thrown by the syndicate of owners behind Verry Elleegant's Melbourne Cup victory to monitor for symptoms.

According to 7News, it is believed a number of people who attended the celebrations have now tested positive for Covid-19.

"There are now fears of a superspreader event after Mr Kheir was reportedly among those to test positive after lavish celebrations at a Melbourne venue that hosted key figures from the racing world," reported Anton Nilsson of NCA Newswire.

There has been no official confirmation from health authorities of positive cases from any venues that the syndicate attended.

"The Department of Health said they had not been made aware of any cases at the restaurant," the Herald Sun reports.

Fellow owner Brae Sokolski has reportedly tested negative, as have two other members of the syndicate.

The latest drama comes after Sokolski was fined $10,000 for jumping a fence in celebration of Tuesday's victory, in a breach of Flemington's Covid-19 rules.

Sokolski hopped the mounting yard fence to meet Verry Elleegant and jockey James McDonald after the mare streaked to a comfortable win in the $8 million race.

Under Racing Victoria and Victoria Racing Club coronavirus protocols, the area is strictly reserved for jockeys, trainers, media and other race day officials.

He also wasn't wearing a face mask, required under mounting yard rules.

Sokolski was interviewed by Racing Victoria stewards on Thursday and pleaded guilty, reducing the severity of his sentence.

The triumphant owner said it was an "impetuous decision" to jump the fence and the emotion of the moment "got the better" of him.

"It certainly wasn't premeditated and I am very apologetic," he told SEN radio before speaking to stewards.

"There is no excuse for that and those protocols are in place for good reason."

Ozzie Kheir and Brae Sokolski, pictured here celebrating Verry Elleegant's victory in the Melbourne Cup.
Ozzie Kheir (L) and Brae Sokolski celebrate Verry Elleegant's victory in the Melbourne Cup. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Two positive cases from Melbourne Cup day

The Victoria Racing Club confirmed on Friday that two people who attended Melbourne Cup Carnival events at Flemington Racecourse had tested positive.

A contractor who worked at the racecourse on Derby Day and Melbourne Cup Day, and a patron who attended Cup Day, are infected with a large contact tracing effort now underway.

Both cases are fully vaccinated and not linked to each other.

About 10,000 people attended the Melbourne Cup last Tuesday, including 500 members of the general public, after Victoria's public health restrictions were eased to allow events.

Health Minister Martin Foley said the outbreak showed Victoria's vaccinated economy system is working.

"VRC's systems have clicked into place pretty seamlessly ... Identified people early, the system of tracing and tracking through the VRC's own efforts has kicked in," he told reporters on Friday.

"I'm confident that punters can head along to the races tomorrow with great certainty that they'll be safe.

"More importantly, as our events and other measures start to kick in, the model that we've seen in the vaccinated economy will continue to work."

with AAP

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