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Victorian racing officials have been given the green light to allow crowds back at Flemington racecourse in the lead up to Christmas.

The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) confirmed 500 members and owners would be permitted on track for its next meeting on Saturday week.

The club is hoping to increase that to 5000 for subsequent race days, although that will require a change to current Victorian government guidelines.

VRC chief executive Steve Rosich said they were thrilled to finally be able to open their gates to the public, who have been shut out during the state’s COVID-19 lockdown.

“We can’t wait to welcome a crowd of 500 for Living Legends race day on Saturday the 12th of December, our first crowd of any size since ‘Super Saturday’ in March,” Rosich said.

“Race days haven’t been the same without our members, owners and racing fans. They create the atmosphere that contributes so much to our sport.

“We hope that, subject to approval from the Victorian government, we will be able to significantly increase the crowd size to 5000 people on the 19th of December and an even greater capacity in January, beginning with our popular New Year’s Day race day.”

The 500 people allowed on course at Flemington will exclude essential workers and is likely to comprise 440 VRC members with tickets allocated via a ballot.

The remaining 60 places with be for owners with horses competing at the meeting and will be on a rotating basis.

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