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Trainer David Hayes has compared the locked-out Caulfield meeting to like watching a silent movie.

Hayes, his co-trainer son Ben and Caulfield trainer John Moloney sat in an empty grandstand at Caulfield on Saturday to watch the opening race on the All-Star Mile program.

With the growing threat of coronavirus, owners of the 89 horses accepted to race at the meeting, along with regular racegoers, were locked out with only raceday officials, trainers and their staff, jockeys and a limited number of media allowed on course.

Hayes said it was an eerie feeling.

“I’m glad we’re racing, but it’s a bit sad not having all the owners and spectators here and hopefully it won’t last too long,” Hayes said.

“It’s like watching a silent movie.

“I had John Moloney with me and we were talking about how our horses were going as we were racing.”

Senior jockey Dwayne Dunn, who rode the $2.30 favourite Rainbow Thief into third place in the opening race, said it was disappointing there were no spectators on course, but otherwise it was business as usual.

“We’re out there to do the job,” Dunn said.

“But it’s actually better for the horses, they’re more calm and relaxed but it’s a bit more like a trial day, but with the high stakes still to race for.”

MRC chief executive Josh Blanksby said it was disappointing having to race behind closed doors.

He said planning for Saturday’s meeting began the day after last year’s inaugural All-Star Mile at Flemington.

“A lot of work went in to the day from Racing Victoria and the Melbourne Racing Club in promoting the day,” Blanksby said.

“Unfortunately we had to make the decision yesterday but in the end health and safety were paramount in pretty strange times at the moment.”

Blanksby said the MRC had been expecting a crowd of between 12,000 and 15,000 with all dining rooms booked.

He said the financial implications were not factored in when they made the decision to run the meeting crowd-free.

“This will probably have longer-range impacts for everyone,” he said.

“Our business is an events business. We’ve got events coming up constantly now and under the new directive we’ll have to assess how we do that.

“That’s every business now and we’re all in this together and we’ll see where we end up.”

 
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