Having considered not running the Cox Plate this year, Moonee Valley Racing Club chief executive Michael Browell says they are now exploring whether it can be run under lights.
The 2020 Cox Plate marks the 100th running of the race and club was planning a big celebration involving past champions.
But crowd lock-outs because of coronavirus and the likelihood those protocols will remain in the spring prompted Browell to consider holding the race over until 2021.
It will, however, go ahead as planned on October 24, opening the possibility it could be held at night.
Browell said he would hold preliminary discussions with broadcast partners the Seven Network and racing.com to explore a Cox Plate under lights ahead of the MVRC’s next committee meeting on April 28.
“We have had many conversations about a night Cox Plate (before),” Browell told RSN927.
“This year being the 100th and looking at doing something differently, maybe it is worthy of consideration.
“Wagering will need to be considered as we need complementary product around the country to make sure we can maximise wagering turnover on the day.
“We’ll have conversations with our broadcast partners, racing.com and Channel Seven because it could be a made for television event.
“If it was to be run at night, let’s say the Cox Plate was run at 8.30 in prime time, you could certainly put a different spin on the presentation to lounge rooms around the country.”
The Cox Plate is part of the MVRC’s two-day spring meeting and follows the Manikato Stakes run on Friday night.
Browell has not ruled out a prize money reduction from the $5 million offered for last year’s Cox Plate, saying the club was in discussions with Racing Victoria.
He said the club had fielded inquiries from overseas stables wanting to know how the spring carnival was shaping up.
Last year’s Cox Plate was won by Japanese star Lys Gracieux.
“The $5 million last year was co-funded,” Browell said.
“I think Racing Victoria are working towards some announcements in early June, but I am expecting the WFA Cox Plate won’t be run at $5 million this year.
“The sooner we can get this bedded down the better, then we can go and communicate that to those stables and they can map out the programs for their horses for the remainder of the year.”