The Victorian government has reversed its decision to allow owners on course for two feature Moonee Valley race meetings following community pressure.

Victorian Racing Minister Martin Pakula said he made a mistake in declaring he would permit a small number of owners trackside to watch their horses race.

“The decision to allow some owners on course for the 100th Cox Plate was motivated only by respect for the occasion and a desire to mark a small step on the path to reopening,” Mr Pakula said in a tweet.

“It was a mistake, given that other restrictions remain in place, and we’ve heard the community feedback.”

The Moonee Valley Racing Club was informed of Mr Pakula’s decision on Tuesday night and said it would “support and respect the government’s decision on this matter”.

The Minister said there would be no change to the current biosecurity protocols, which only allow essential workers to attend Melbourne race meetings, until wider community restrictions were eased.

“Owners won’t return to the race track until we reach the next stage of the easing of restrictions. I apologise for any upset that has been caused,” Mr Pakula said.

The Valley will host its feature programs of the spring this weekend with the Group One Manikato Stakes under lights on Friday and the $5 million Cox Plate a day later.


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