Spring Racing Carnival 2023: By The Numbers

The Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival has wrapped up for another year, with four big days of punting, fabulous outfits and, most importantly, elite horse racing.

The Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival has wrapped up for another year, with four big days of punting, fabulous outfits and, most importantly, elite horse racing.

From Riff Rocket’s success in the Derby to Mark Zahra’s second Melbourne Cup in a row, this time aboard Without A Fight, Flemington’s Melbourne Cup carnival was not only a memorable one on the track, but a triumph off the track based on the numbers.

Over 260,000 spectators enjoyed the fine weather over four days of racing this year, surpassing the 244,208 attendees of last year.

This was held up by the more than 150,000 people that attended the first two days of the 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival. In particular, Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup Day attracted a huge crowd of 84,492, the biggest attendance for the meeting since 2017, and an increase of 14.5% on last year when 73,816 patrons braved the bad weather.

The numbers are not all positive, however.

Crowd numbers have definitely dropped from years gone past, such as when 122,736 fans packed Flemington in 2003 to see the great Makybe Diva win the first of her three Melbourne Cups.

In terms of prize money, over $30 million was won across the four race days, although some media outlets have reported betting volume was down at least 10% early on this Spring Racing Carnival compared to last year, and about 15% for some bookies.

This drop in racing betting has been backed up by the 2023 financial report for state governing body Racing Victoria, lodged last week with the corporate regulator, which shows its total wagering revenue fell 7.3% compared to the previous year.

Dropping crowd numbers, rising prize money and lower betting numbers all seem to be affecting racing clubs and state racing bodies’ bottom line, a few of whom are heading for financial losses.

The Victoria Racing Club has made combined ­losses of $30m over the past two years, largely due to COVID forcing them to hold the Melbourne Cup behind closed doors in 2020 and 2021, ­before land revaluation gains, and has $58m in borrowings from ANZ and Racing Victoria on its balance sheet.

All in all, though, the 2023 Spring Racing Carnival appeared to be a resounding success, with less packed crowds, more happy faces basking in the glorious Melbourne sunshine and, more importantly, no equine fatalities this year.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.


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