Melbourne Cup crowd better than expected

By: Megan Neil Saturday 11 November 201

The decline in crowd numbers at this year's Melbourne Cup carnival has not been as bad as expected amid ongoing construction work.

More than 310,000 people have been trackside at Flemington Racecourse over the four race meetings, compared to almost 319,000 last year.

A rise in numbers on Oaks day helped offset a fall on the three other race days, the biggest of which came on the coldest Melbourne Cup day in more than a decade.

The Victoria Racing Club budgeted for a five to 10 per cent decline in attendance due to construction work for the $128 million redevelopment of the members' grandstand.

"We've actually done better than that, which is absolutely magnificent, but it's also about the experience - everyone has had a good time," VRC chairman Amanda Elliott said on Saturday.

Ms Elliott was not disappointed that the Cup day crowd declined by 7000 to 90,536, given the temperature only reached 16C.

"It was a very cold day. We budgeted for between five and 10 per cent down and that was the day that probably hit those targets rather than the other days.

"Oaks day was actually above last year's figures.

"We're not worried at all. They're still so far the four biggest days in Australia by a long shot."

Work on the Club Stand will be completed in late July.

Ms Elliott said the VRC also expected to make a number of announcements including regarding prize money ahead of the 2018 Cup carnival.

MELBOURNE CUP CARNIVAL CROWDS FALL AMID BUILDING WORK (2017 v 2016):

* Derby Day - 87,526 v 90,136

* Melbourne Cup Day - 90,536 v 97,479

* Oaks Day - 63,673 v 60,888

* Stakes Day - 68,873 v 70,351

* Total Flemington four days - 310,608 v 318,854.