Melburnians are tipped to flock to parks and pubs for a crowd-free Cup day in lieu of enjoying traditional festivities at Flemington.
The COVID-19 pandemic has conspired to ensure the famous course will be without a crowd for Tuesday’s $7.75 million race.
Attendance for the race that stops the nation has been dwindling, last year falling to its lowest point since 1995 amid a chilly late spring maximum of 19C.
Flemington is set to be bathed in sunshine this year, with temperatures forecast to top 29C in the city – the warmest Cup day since 2014.
Unable to watch the 3pm main race in the flesh, Melburnians will have to turn to alternatives including park picnics and Cup-themed events at pubs and bars.
Those wanting to stay home will be able to have two adults from the same household as visitors, with the carnival’s rebadged Fashion on The Front Lawn encouraging people to don their finest fascinators, frocks and suits.
However, another Cup day past time won’t be impacted by COVID, as punters try their luck at picking a winner among the 24-horse field.
TAB expects to take up to 20 million wagers on Tuesday, its biggest trading day of the year.
Aiden O’Brien-trained pair Tiger Moth ($7.50) and Anthony Van Dyck ($9) and Paul Preusker’s Surprise Baby ($8) are rated top chances for the 3200-metre Group One.
Under coronavirus rules for regional Victoria, a small number of owners are permitted on course at a concurrent race meeting at Echuca.
Some spectators can also attend Cup day meetings in other states.
Callum Godde in Melbourne