IT'S welcome news for thoroughbred owners, but not so for race day patrons, with confirmation a restricted amount of owners will be permitted on-course this year's Apiam Bendigo Cup meeting.
The Bendigo Jockey Club has announced that no spectators will be permitted on course on October 28 other than owners with a runner engaged on the day, essential staff and racing participants.
BJC chairman Rod Caldow labelled the decision as regretful but in the best interests of the health and well-being of the community.
"This decision was not made lightly, however, the health and well-being of our broader community was an integral component of the decision-making process and although active COVID-19 cases are at minimal levels across regional Victoria, we didn't want to accept any risk that might place this in jeopardy," he said.
"We were hopeful that the easing of restrictions in regional Victoria would allow us to have a significant level of spectators for the inaugural running of the Apiam Bendigo Cup this year and we delayed our decision making as long as possible."
"However, we are now only two-and-a-half weeks away from Apiam Bendigo Cup Day and we have to make our decision based upon the restrictions that are currently in place now and inform our loyal members, sponsors and racegoers so they can plan to celebrate the day off course, added BJC chief executive officer Aaron Hearps.
In a further boost for owners, the BJC is set to welcome back up to 30 owners per race for its Beach Party Raceday on Saturday, October 17. Similar numbers will be permitted on course on Cup day.
"We look forward to welcoming owners back to the Bendigo racecourse, who have a runner engaged at our feature spring race meetings," Hearps said.
"Although the on-course owners' experience will remain quite restrictive initially, we are enthused to be taking the first step back towards having more significant crowds as racing progresses to a COVID normal over the coming months."
The BJC earlier this week announced a campaign aimed at encouraging the local community to celebrate the Cup by supporting a number of local hospitality businesses that have been significantly impacted by COVID-19 throughout the year.
"We have been working with the City of Greater Bendigo council and will be assisting the local business community by offering a complimentary race naming sponsorship, valued at over $7000, for any business that promotes this year's Apiam Bendigo Cup Day in-store or via their social media channel," he said.
"The Bendigo Cup will be broadcast free-to-air on Racing.com (channel 68), which is available to 95 per cent of the national population, so we believe this would be a great incentive for the local business community to get involved with"
Apiam Bendigo Cup promotional packs are available by contacting the club.
The 2020 Cup will be the first to be run without general spectators since its inception in 1868, when it was known as the Sandhurst Cup.
It has been run almost continuously since, with the exception of 1940-45 during the Second World War and in 1998 when the event was washed out.
The 1915 Cup was run at Moonee Valley.
The Cup race was a Listed event from 1979 to 2014, but has been a Group 3 race since 2015.
Read more: Bendigo Cup Day support for business
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