There's a star coming to the Melbourne Cup but organisers are tight-lipped about who it is.
Victoria Racing Club CEO Neil Wilson says they have secured a replacement for pop star Taylor Swift, who announced last month she would no longer attend the Cup as key guest.
"We will have a wonderful pre-Cup entertainment experience on the day and we're super excited with what we've been able to do in the short time frame," Wilson told reporters earlier this week.
While Swift attributed her cancellation to a clash with her Asian tour, the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses believe public backlash was to blame.
"She's been touring the world for a long time and they don't make mistakes like that with someone like her," spokeswoman Kristin Leigh told AAP.
The anti-horse racing group said the VRC are intentionally keeping quiet about the replacement, fearing backlash for the star.
"I've never heard of an event not wanting to advertise who their headline act is," Ms Leigh said.
"They don't want to leave enough time for the public to put the pressure on them, which just goes to show how powerful people speaking up can be."
Commentary about the secret star came as model Megan Gale, a regular for many years as the face of Melbourne Cup sponsor Lexus, announced on Thursday she wouldn't be attending.
Last week dating app Bumble announced the celebrity guest for its Cup marquee, US actress Lana Condor, had decided to withdraw, also citing scheduling conflicts. The announcement was accompanied by a $130,000 donation to the Victorian racing industry's program for retired racehorses.
Myer ambassador, actress Asher Keddie, made it clear when she signed with the retailer earlier this year she would not be attending the carnival because of her concerns about horse racing.
RMIT senior lecturer in marketing Dr Lauren Gurrieri said a precedent had been set by the number of stars shunning the race.
"If more and more celebrities are declining or citing scheduling conflicts then it doesn't look good it doesn't reflect well," she told AAP.
But Dr Gurrieri expects the racing club will "ride out" the latest controversy.
"The public often forget. They become very aware and outraged for a while and often rightly so, but then move onto something else," she said.
"The groups that are advocating on behalf of the racehorses have to ensure that this continues as a conversation beyond the Cup if they're really wanting to make a difference."
Australian Associated Press