The Melbourne Cup Carnival is in danger of recording its lowest four-day crowd total this century but organisers are hopeful of large attendances for the family-oriented Stakes Day.
Melbourne Cup Carnival crowds have been in decline since 2006 when a record 418,069 squeezed into Flemington over the four days.
A crowd of 65,000 is needed on Stakes Day on Saturday to break this century’s low-water mark of 313,228 – set last year.
Crowds for Derby and Oaks Day were higher this year but the Cup Day crowd dipped below 1000,000 for the first time since 2004.
However, with children under 16 admitted for free and no rain forecast for the racecourse, the VRC is confident it can achieve a bumper day on the family-oriented Stakes Day.
“The first three race days of this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival have attracted a total of 248,503 people, representing a stronger attendance to date than in 2015,” VRC chief executive Simon Love said in a statement.
“With strong pre-event ticket sales and little rainfall predicted at Flemington, we anticipate more than 60,000 people through the turnstiles to enjoy Emirates Stakes Day tomorrow.”
Love said the mid-week Oaks Day crowd of 60,888 was “a stronger crowd than most AFL matches this year”.
Some 68,000 last year attended the carnival’s final day, which has in recent years taken over Oaks Day as the third-best attended day.