Melbourne Cup crowd hits 24-year low amid cruelty concerns

The number of people attending the Melbourne Cup has dipped again, for the fourth year in a row.

There were 81,408 racegoers at Flemington Racecourse on Tuesday to watch the Australian-bred, trained, ridden and owned Vow And Declare win the Cup.

That was down slightly from last year's rain-affected number of 83,471, with both years marking the lowest attendance since 1995.

Vow And Declare's part-owner, former NSW politician Geoff Corrigan, acknowledged the recent allegations of animal cruelty involving ex-racehorses that led to a protest outside the course.

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"There's a social contract involved with racing," Corrigan said.

"That social contract's been fractured a little bit in the past two weeks."

Race-goers enjoy the atmosphere after the 2019 Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington Racecourse. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Melbourne Cup in a peaceful anti-cruelty event that was part demonstration, part celebration with live music and costumes.

But Corrigan said he was very pleased with the efforts that have been made by Racing Victoria, Racing NSW and Racing Queensland to address anti-cruelty concerns.

And winning trainer Danny O'Brien does not believe the Melbourne Cup carnival has lost its gloss, even as Sydney racing authorities ramp up the spring competition between the states.

"I've been all around the world to English derbies to Royal Ascot to the Kentucky Derby, but nothing comes close to this.

Two racegoers get up close and personal at the 2019 Melbourne Cup. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

"You have a whole city that stops, the rest of the country does as well."

Sydneysider Corrigan called for a time-out on the interstate rivalry.

"I don't think there's any future in putting on more and more of these races that are dragging the states apart and competing with one another.

"I think there has to be some return back to tradition and common sense. There's only so much money and it will eventually collapse if they keep doing it."

Crowd numbers at the Melbourne Cup have been falling in recent years, last surpassing 100,000 in 2015.