The Queanbeyan Racing Club will turn its members bar into a jockeys room on Sunday to help facilitate Sunday's annual Cup meeting amidst strict COVID-19 restrictions.
QRacing boss Brendan Comyn will use the upstairs members bar to house metropolitan and provincial jockeys including star hoops Blaike McDougall and Shaun Guymer who have both been booked to ride at this weekend's flagship meeting.
Country male jockeys will be based in their usual spot, while female riders will be stationed in the women's room.
It's one of several measures Comyn and his staff must adhere to in order to cater for a drastically reduced crowd of up to 800 spectators on Sunday - the club's fourth meeting back since resuming after the COVID-19 shutdown.
Trainers won't be allowed into the mounting yard to leg jockeys into the saddle, or to handle their horses to and from the tie-up stalls.
They will also be separated from jockeys by a fence at all times, while pre-race instructions and post-race discussion will be done at a distance.
"The jockey stands at a number on the fence, the trainer stands on the other side of the fence and gives instructions but they can't come in contact with each other," Comyn said.
"Under normal circumstances the trainer would leg the jockey up and the strapper would just handle the horse. Now the strapper handles the horse, the trainer stands outside the fence and the jockey's legged up by a nominated barrier attendant who then hops in the ute, drives over to the barriers and puts the horses in the stall.
"It's a lot of extra work and a lot of extra labour. I've got to supply two extra security guys and stand on the fence and say you can't come in.
"COVID marshalls are wondering around squirting everything anyone is likely to touch. We'll have temperature checks at the gate so we've got extra gate people."
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Unlike restrictions at Thoroughbred Park which required patrons to be segregated throughout all of the Melbourne Cup race day, attendees on Sunday will be able to walk around the venue freely.
The club will be running two small functions, while three bookmakers are expected to be on track.
Tickets must be pre-bought, either through the club or at any of the pubs in Queanbeyan. Patrons arriving without a ticket on the day will not be admitted entry, due to the strict cap on spectators allowed through the gate under the one patron per four square metres rule. Owners must also pre-register their attendance.
"We're still restricted to the four square metre rule, even though hotels have dropped back to two square metres I believe, we're on a sporting arena and recreation reserve so it's a different category," Comyn said.
"You can guarantee with the Queanbeyan Racing Club's luck it'll all be relaxed the following Monday but we'll still have a good day, we'll have 750 or 800 people here according to the COVID-safe plan.
"It's a big whack on the club as far as financially, gate takings, what you're likely to sell in the takeaway food, what you're likely to sell over the bar. It's not perfect but it's Queanbeyan and we're doing the best we can."