A LACK of crowds won’t stop a quality field taking to the Greenwattle track for the Sale Cup on Sunday.
Attendance will be limited to race participants, officials and horse owners.
Unlike Saturday’s Cox Place meeting at Moonee Valley, where owners will not be permitted to attend following the reversing of the state government’s decision to allow them, up to 30 will be allowed at Greenwattle Racecourse on Sunday.
The owners must live outside the Melbourne metropolitan area, register before arriving and only be at the track to see the race their horse is entered in.
But eager racegoers may be tempted to watch the races from outside the fence along Maffra Rd.
Sale Turf Club chief executive Brad Evans said Sunday will be a Sale Cup like no other.
The only food available will be provided to jockeys and race officials.
“There’s very little food, very little drink, zero hospitality, which is the clear negative for an event like the Sale Cup,” Evans said.
“From a positive, we’re really pleased to be able to maintain the product, maintain the entertainment for people from afar.
“We’ve still continued as a training centre, so all the local trainers and training staff and horses are being catered for. Our venue is under strict bio-security conditions as a workplace.”
Sale Turf Club will host a nine-race program, beginning at 12.30pm, highlighted by the $200,000 listed Sale Cup (race seven, 3.55pm).
Among the chances for the 1600 metre main race will be Phaistos, from the James Cummings stable and to be ridden by Caulfield Cup-winning jockey Mark Zahra. The five-year-old gelding won the listed Weekend Hustler at Caulfield last start earlier this month.
All Too Huiying, trained by Phillip Stokes at Pakenham, is vying to back-to-back listed country cups over 1600m, having won the Seymour Cup on Sunday.
Local interest in the race will be on Sale-trained horses Plymouth Road and Elvaric, for Mario Farrugia and Susie Wells respectively.
The day will also present chances for horses to book spots in races at Flemington through a $100,000 heat of the Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Series and VRC Grand Handicap Sprint Ballot Exempt race.
“We’re encouraged by 443 nominations for the nine-race card,” Evans said.
“Extremely well-supported by all the trainers across the state, some interstate, and certainly locals.
“The course is looking a picture, the roses are in full bloom – it’ll look good on TV.”
The meeting will be broadcast on Racing.com (channel 68 free-to-air and 529 Foxtel) and Sky Racing (channel 526 Foxtel).
Evans welcomed the continued support of club members and sponsors, which will be recognised when attendance is expanded.
“When we can have people back on track, we’re certainly going to show that appreciation to our sponsors and our members by prioritising their return to the track,” he said.
“We don’t race until December 20, there’s going to be an interesting period where we can just assess how things progress over the next six weeks while we have a track renovation. Our course proper gets renovated every November after the cup.”