Bets are off as Melbourne Cup fever falters

Ten's ratings took a hit on Melbourne Cup day. (Photo: Studio 10, Facebook)

Did horse racing’s season of scandal turn the Melbourne Cup toxic?

Attendance at Flemington on Tuesday for the biggest day on the racing calendar fell to its lowest since 1993, reflecting a four-year trend of declining turnout. 

The TAB reported a a 5.9 per cent fall in turnover, taking $160.7 million across all 10 Cup Day races, while TV ratings also took a major hit.

The official Oztam ratings show the Channel Ten broadcast attracted 1.44 million viewers nationally, peaking at 1.975 million during the race. In 2018, the broadcast on Seven drew an average audience of 2.5 million, rising to 2.7 million in the final stages of the big race.

Crowd numbers at Flemington have steadily dropped from over 100,000 in 2015 to this years 81,408.

Victorian Racing Minister Martin Pakula denied the declining crowd numbers were indicative of a greater problem and listed a “range of reasons” for the turn out.

In an interview on 3AW, Mr Pakula cited Taylor Swift’s cancelled performance, the impact of crowd capping and recent revelations of animal cruelty as a few of the causes.

“Frankly, when it was over 100,000, Flemington was probably a bit uncomfortable,” Mr Pakula said.

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