Racing Minister Martin Pakula Explains The Government’s Cox Plate Crowd Backflip
On the Hot Breakfast
Victoria’s Racing Minister Martin Pakula appeared on the Hot Breakfast this morning and explained the government’s backflip on the decision to allow a small crowd of owners at this Saturday.
"The thinking was nothing more than these two thing, Ed: as you know, it’s the 100th running of the Cox Plate, it’s a very historic event, one of the great races in our nation and on our racing calendar," Pakula said.
"There were 10,000+ in Sydney last week at the Everest, and y’know we knew we weren’t going to have anything like that, but a few people, a little bit atmosphere, and giving owners who make an enormous contribution an opportunity to at least see their house run.
"Moonee Valley Racing Club had asked for that, we went through the process of getting the relevant approvals, and, y’know, I’d come to the conclusion that that wasn’t unreasonable.
"The other thing was I thought it would be viewed as just a sign of a little step on the way out of lockdown, but look I’m happy to, I’m prepared to say I read that wrong.
"I think the reaction last night was pretty substantial, the last thing I wanted to do was create the impression that people who had sacrificed so much were being treated differently to a group of owners, and that was never the intention, it was just about respecting the event, the hundreds running every great race and allowing not very many people at all.
"I mean bear in mind Moonee Valley holds nearly 40,000 people, and the most that would have been on course at any one time would have been about 250, outside of the staff and the jockeys and the trainers and the like.
"But look, I would never want Victorians to think that their sacrifice wasn’t being respected, I thought that the right thing to do was to reverse it."
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Pakula also addressed the possibility of people being able to congregate on grand final day, answered listener questions and more.