“It’s definitely weird – I do feel a bit sad that obviously everything is going ahead without crowds. But I’m really glad it’s going ahead,” she said. “We are really making a big day of it.
“I’ve been going to the races since I was little, and we have been watching races at home on TV since March, every weekend,” she said.
Saturday’s decorations included vintage bookies boards and bags, and horse-themed artworks she made herself on the wall.
This year would have marked her 15th time attending the Caulfield Cup, which she says has its own distinct character compared to other spring races.
“I think it’s got a young kind of buzz about it when you’re on track,” she says. “A young, frenetic energy.”
And while this year wasn’t quite the same, Ms Menz was already looking forward to the day that Melbourne’s racetracks open their gates to crowds again.
“As soon as they let me back I will be there. I can’t wait to be back,” she said.
Racing is one of the few sports which has continued in Victoria during the state’s second wave, despite a ban on crowds.
Domestic wagering turnover for last weekend’s Caulfield Guineas Day was $104 million, up 20 per cent on the previous year, according to Melbourne Racing Club chief executive Josh Blanksby, reflecting Melburnians’ desire to be involved in the carnival, even from a distance.
Ms Menz put her money on Finche to win, but it was Verry Elleegant that landed the $5 million prize on Saturday, delivering champion trainer Chris Waller his first Caulfield Cup.
The celebration of fashion was conducted online with racing fans sending in images of their outfits and celebrations to Social Style Stakes, a competition run by Melbourne Racing Club. The winner will be announced on Sunday.
In another twist from tradition, the trophy was delivered by a senior nurse educator called Deborah Ward, who was nominated by a friend for her work providing critical care to patients with COVID-19.
Crowd numbers at the Caulfield Cup, which is the world’s richest 2400-metre handicap, have hovered around 30,000 for the past decade.
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Simone is a crime reporter for The Age. Most recently she covered breaking news for The Age, and before that for The Australian in Melbourne.