Talk about leaving it to the last minute. Canberra Racing might have to wait until less than 24 hours before Melbourne Cup Day before they find out what their crowd at Thoroughbred Park will be next Tuesday.
ACT Health have told the race club they will make a call on crowd size at the end of this week at the earliest, meaning Canberra Racing might not know what their final crowd size will be until the day before the races.
Luckily, there won't be too much difference between their current approved capacity and what they've applied for in their exemption.
They've already sold out their current allocation of 500 tickets, while withholding a few for owners of horses racing on the day, with members gobbling up the full amount.
But they've applied for an allowance to have capacity of 1000 for what's normally in the top three for biggest crowd's at Thoroughbred Park throughout the year.
The two-day Black Opal carnival's the other two big days in Canberra's racing calendar, which has been scheduled for the Canberra Day long weekend next year on March 13-14.
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It's hoped, if the exemption gets approved, 375 tickets would be available to go on sale to the general public.
There'll likely be a mad scramble for tickets for a day when about 5000 race goers would normally stream through the gates in a non-COVID year.
Last year they were allowed just 667 punters in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic.
Melbourne Cup Day will be Canberra Racing's first meeting held at Thoroughbred Park since the start of August when the ACT went into lockdown.
They've been forced to either cancel or relocate their meets to Queanbeyan since then due to border restrictions preventing enough jockeys and key racing personnel to enter Canberra to allow them to go ahead.
And they couldn't get a much bigger day to return - the day of the race that stops a nation - with the running of the 161st Melbourne Cup.
A crowd of 10,000 has been approved for Flemington, despite more than 1500 COVID-19 daily cases still being recorded in Victoria - compared with Canberra's 15 on Tuesday.