Drinks brands normally bet millions on the coverage and kudos they receive for their elaborate marquees and bars at the Melbourne Cup Carnival. But Flemington’s famed Birdcage has been scratched from the Spring Racing Carnival this year in a bid to keep the event COVID-safe.
VRC CEO Steve Rosich told the Sunday Herald Sun the Birdcage “will be different this year, we are calling it re-imagined”.
A crowd of up to 5500 will have the opportunity to attend Penfolds Victoria Derby Day on Saturday, October 30, while the VRC has received formal approval for its COVID-safe event plans for 10,000 racing fans to attend each of Lexus Melbourne Cup Day, Kennedy Oaks Day and Paramount+ Stakes Day. Around 70% of the ticket allocation will go to members, and the rest to sponsors and owners
Members, owners and the public will enjoy the action on the track from reserved seating and a more casual food and beverage offering via on-course retail outlets. There will be pop-up bars, plus two new spaces have been created: Botanical Bar and Front Lawn Beer Garden and the Elms Pub.
Rosich said the Club remained focussed on delivering a safe event trial for patrons and all racing participants.
“We are delighted to host a crowd of up to 5,500 under the event trial to watch some of Australia’s finest Group 1 racing on Penfolds Victoria Derby Day adding to the 30,000 that will be able to attend our other three Carnival race days,” Rosich said.
“We are grateful for the support received from our members and the public eager to attend and enjoy the magnificent racing at Flemington. Although not everyone will be able to be accommodated given the restricted crowds, the designation of Derby Day as a trial event does mean we can welcome more people along to Cup Week than we had anticipated.
For all four days of the Carnival, all racegoers will be in three dedicated spectator zones stretching along the course, with movement between the zones not permitted under the approved COVID-safe event plan. Race fans need to be double vaccinated and show proof of vaccination upon entry to Flemington, wear a mask indoors and outdoors, and be seated when eating and drinking.
High-end caterer Peter Rowland Group has been a stalwart at the Spring Racing Carnival since the mid-1990s. Normally the business serves racegoers across members’ stands, car parks and Birdcage, preparing 1.2 million canapes.
However, this year Good Food reports “its famous chicken sandwiches are being boxed up and delivered far beyond Flemington” as people prepare to celebrate more casually.
“As well as finger sandwiches, hampers have been flying out the door, filled with poached prawns, slow-cooked salmon and grilled chicken breast with pistachio mayonnaise. CEO Michelle Biddle says more than 1000 have been ordered by Victorians who are keen to do ‘fashions on the front lawn’ this year.”
The drinks brands at Melbourne Cup
Furphy and Penfolds are Major Partners of the event this year. The Group 1 Penfolds Victoria Derby race will run on Saturday, while the Furphy Plate will run on Tuesday at Flemington.
Penfolds was announced as the Victoria Racing Club’s (VRC) new Victoria Derby Day naming rights sponsor earlier
this year and is preparing to mark the inaugural Penfolds Victoria Derby Day with a “symphony of celebration”.
With a nod to Grange creator Max Schubert’s love of music, Penfolds has collaborated with renowned music producer and international DJ Dan Lywood to offer Australians who can’t attend the race a curated playlist that can be downloaded and enjoyed throughout the day.
Penfolds will also gift a Magill Cellar 3 Barrel, valued at $160,000 to the winner of the coveted race, in what will become an annual tradition.
Meanwhile, Maison Mumm officially opened its first global flagship venue – the Mumm Champagne Bar within the new members Club Stand at Flemington in May.
At the time, Pernod Ricard Pacific Managing Director, Bryan Fry, said the elegant new Mumm Champagne Bar was a celebration of champagne and racing.
“Mumm, the VRC and Flemington have a strong association with celebrations, international events and sophistication, and the new Mumm Champagne Bar is a discerning, distinctive and stylish celebration of those relationships,” he noted. “This striking space will be a high-energy yet sophisticated place to enjoy the races, and we look forward to celebrating our continued success with Flemington and the VRC as we lead into Melbourne Cup Carnival.”
Summer events dependent on Melbourne Cup outcome
Victorian Covid commander Jeroen Weimar said how the Melbourne Cup plays out will be a crucial case in deciding what restrictions will look like for major events planned for the rest of the summer.
“If we can see that these case numbers don’t go crazy, if we can ensure that we can keep the hospitalisation numbers as low as possible so we can keep Victorians out of hospital, and the way we do that is by getting more people vaccinated,” he said.
“If all those things happen over the coming weeks then we have a really good run in to see how that’s going to play and what it means for December and events like the Boxing Day tests.”