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MY CALL: LOOKING BACK AT MELBOURNE CUP WEEK

By David Fowler | Tuesday, November 13, 2018

David Fowler is the principal thoroughbred caller for Radio TAB. David, who is a keen form student and punter, has enjoyed a lifetime involvement in the racing media. His personal blog, ‘My Call’, appears exclusively on HRO.

Some observations are worth making after another Cup week at Flemington has now been consigned to history.

Yet again it conclusively proved it is one of, if not the greatest sporting event in Australia.

Its global arm continues to extend paralleling its national consolidation both on the racing front and it's social and economic impact.

The Victoria Racing Club, however, would be derelict in their duty if they ignored a minor drop in the year-to-year overall attendance figure and a slightly disturbing 87,000 and change in attendance at the Melbourne Cup.

This might be an aberration because of the horrendous Cup morning weather yet dropping below the 90k line would ring a bell maybe not of alarm type proportions but enough to create a conversation.

In one way, it's an enviable problem when you consider the kitchen sink was thrown at The Everest raceday that realised a 40k figure at Royal Randwick.

But the Flemington Cup day attendance issue might not be restricted to the host venue.

My intel suggest Cup day attendances are on a decline Australia-wide. Not dramatically but significant enough.

The function competition gets fiercer by the year and the rapid rise in betting technology makes it far easier to place a wager at the Hilton or Sofitel rather than journeying to Doomben, say, for example.

The VRC has signalled a tinkering of Oaks day to lessen the number of races and begin later.

Yet their chairman Amanda Elliot raised a few eyebrows with her assertion that reducing the raceday card will not have an effect on betting turnover.

That's simply wishful thinking.

If a punter has a $200 bank for 10 races and spends $20 on each race it doesn't equate that he will spend double that on each race if only five races were carded.

Punters are generally creatures of habit and only change their unit of betting in either an extreme win or loss situation.

Victoria has mastered the 30 minute gap between races more skilfully than their interstate counterparts and could easily present a nine eventer extending from 3pm to 7pm with the benefit of daylight saving.

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Another red-light matter could be the Mackinnon Stakes, recently relocated to the final day as a follow on from the Cox Plate a fortnight earlier.

Yet not one Cox Plate contestant turned up in the Mackinnon

It's a fair argument they might be still mentally and physically bashed up after Winx breezed by them.

Most, it not all, agree it's too early to make a judgement call.

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Another issue that seems to get an "annual run" is are there too many International runners in the Cup?

It's arrant nonsense on a number of fronts which I discussed on my PRESS ROOM program on RadioTAB yesterday.

Yet the Daily Telegraph's Ray Thomas made a good point when he said the issue could find some common ground if there was a better opportunity for local stayers to achieve Cup inclusion by winning an automatic inclusion race.

It does seem passing strange that the Group One Metropolitan at Royal Randwick is not afforded this status.

Maybe another Sydney / Melbourne thing?

Discussing tweaking and tinkering is a positive thing.

Luckily, one has such a wonderful product to work with.

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