Punters will be able to attend this year’s spring carnival for free after the Melbourne Racing Club announced that the Caulfield gates would be thrown open on Underwood Stakes day.
MRC Chairman Mike Symons said he hoped for a crowd of at least 20,000 for the September 17 meeting.
“We want to promote the day and get people to focus on the spring carnival,” Symons said.
“We would hope to get 20,000 plus, but that will still be weather dependent. If it works we will do it every year. We want people to get into a mindset – it’s Underwood Stakes, it’s free, you are going to watch Group One racing at a premium track.
Symons acknowledged that the move was a gamble, especially seeing as Melbourne will be gripped by AFL Finals fever at the time, but he moved to allay fears by saying that any lost revenue would be made up by the clubs gaming venues.
In another plus for punters, all mid-week meetings at Sandown between August 1st and the end of the spring carnival will also be free entry.
Symons actually remarked that paying ticket collectors to work on the gates at mid-week meetings was actually costing the MRC money.
The AJC have implemented free meetings at Randwick and Warwick Farm in the past and there has been little to no change in attendances.
In fact the only race club in Australia that has experienced continued growth in terms of attendances is the VRC. This can be out down to the fact that at 30,000, the VRC clearly has the largest membership base.
Attendees of the free Underwood Stakes meeting will also be on course to witness the Thousand Guineas Prelude, the Naturalism Stakes and the How Now Stakes. The Group One George Main Stakes will also take place on the same day at Randwick.