Next month’s Jarden Melbourne Cup Day at Ellerslie has been shifted to Waikato’s Te Rapa Racecourse as a result of the impact of COVID-19 and its associated lockdowns in Auckland.
This shift means the event that had been scheduled to take place here at Ellerslie Racecourse on that date has been cancelled.
This decision has been made in keeping with current Government regulations around the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications on both large social gatherings and border restrictions which will remain in effect on the scheduled event date of 2 November 2021.
Auckland Thoroughbred Racing CEO Paul Wilcox says the shift is unfortunate, yet necessary, due to complications created by the pandemic.
“Jarden Melbourne Cup Day at Ellerslie is arguably New Zealand’s biggest Melbourne Cup celebration and typically the kick-off to our ‘summer of racing’.
“A day where we welcome thousands of corporates, sports fan, revelers and industry participants on course, we are thus disappointed to have to shift 2021’s event – particularly when ticket sales had looked so strong leading up until the lockdown.
“Unfortunately, holding a race meeting in Auckland under current Alert Level 3 conditions is not currently feasible given the number and variety of industry participants who reside outside the region and who would not be able to travel into it, and because we are unable to host crowds of people.
“The health and safety of our participants is of the utmost importance and so, while today’s decision to shift is disappointing, it was most definitely the right call.
“Today’s decision at least provides participants enough time to plan other ways in which they can safely celebrate the running of one of Australasia’s great races.”
Mr Wilcox says he hopes COVID-19 restrictions may have relaxed somewhat towards the end of the year when the Club’s summer carnivals kick off, allowing them to host events with the added colour of crowds on course.
"While we are disappointed to have lost what will be our sixth raceday of the season to COVID-19; our focus right now is to turn our attention towards our summer carnival events in the hope that in a couple of months’ time - owners, trainers, members, sponsors, ticketholders and the wider pool of people who contribute to running our events and industry can gather in person and enjoy the magic of our great sport at either Ellerslie or Pukekohe Park," he says.
The Club thanks Jarden Melbourne Cup Day’s sponsors, ticketholders and participants for their understanding of the decision and how these trying circumstances have impacted the organisation and wider industry.
The Club is currently in the process of contacting the event’s primary ticket purchasers with regards to refunds.
In good news, Australia’s Lexus Melbourne Cup will still be run at Flemington this year with Victoria Racing Club recently announcing that crowds of up to 10,000 of fully vaccinated fans will be permitted on course as part of a large-scale trial for crowd numbers. Kiwi fans can watch the race by tuning into either TAB Trackside TV (SKY channel 62) or TVNZ’s Melbourne Cup special.
Further, we will be publishing some of our own Melbourne Cup lifestyle content on our blog in the coming weeks and invite you check it out in your own time.
Please note that because of the shift, the raceday’s license will be taken over by Waikato Racing Club. Further details as to how the day will be held at Te Rapa, including information on any attendance restrictions, can be found online at teraparacing.co.nz