Current coronavirus crowd restrictions are going to cost Canberra Racing in excess of $100,000 for the upcoming Canberra Carnival.
While Canberra Stadium's been given the all clear to return to full capacity, because Thoroughbred Park's not a seated venue their crowd's capped at 2000 - although they've applied for an exemption to allow all members and owners to attend.
That would take capacity to about 3000 with Canberra Racing chief executive Andrew Clark hoping to get an answer from the ACT government on Monday.
Clark said they'd budgeted for 2000 - which has been sold out for weeks - and anything above that was a bonus.
The two-day Canberra Carnival is in just its second year, with the capital's biggest race day of the year split into two - Black Opal Stakes Day next Sunday, with Canberra Cup Day a day later.
Held over the Canberra Day long weekend, the carnival was developed to help boost ACT tourism.
They were lucky to get last year's inaugarual carnival in before the COVID-19 lockdown, with about 10,000 coming through the gates across the two days.
"We're still at a limit of 2000. We've put in an exemption [request] with ACT Health a week ago," Clark told The Canberra Times.
"I expect to know something [on Monday]. I would suggest we're looking to extend it for members and owners so that all our members and owners can get in.
"So people can join to become a member if they like, but that's where we sit so I won't know anything more until potentially [Monday].
"We've been sold out for about four weeks ... probably 3000 would pull up enough to have all of the members and owners on track."
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Nominations have started to come in for the $250,000 Black Opal Stakes and listed Canberra Cup.
Wagga Wagga trainer Scott Spackman has nominated Rocket Tiger for both the Black Opal and the Todman Stakes - on the previous day to the Opal in Sydney - and will decide where he runs after the barrier draws.
Rocket Tiger impressed in his second-place finish in the Silver Slipper last weekend.
The second-favourite for the $3.5 million Golden Slipper, Stay Inside, could also be Opal bound.
Collide, trained by Kris Lees, could also have his first run in Australia in the Canberra Cup.
The son of Frankel finished sixth in the Prix Kergolay in France last year - a race that's considered a good indicator for the Melbourne Cup.
"We're treating it like a positive because we've set all our business model on the 2000 we could've sold out," Clark said.
"Anything from here is a bonus in terms of the club's finances.
"But comparing that to last year you're looking about one third of the crowd or 25 per cent.
"If you're comparing strictly to last year it's a significant downturn, but at the end of the day we were very lucky to get the carnival in last year - making it in by less than a week [before the lockdown]."
Sunday: Black Opal Stakes Day. Gates open 11.30am.
Monday, March 8: Canberra Cup Day. Gates open 11.30am.