The sport of kings has provided irrefutable proof of the COVID-19 cross-border minefield being navigated by Albury-Wodonga.
Crowds were given the green light to return to Albury races on Monday for the first time since the pandemic began in March and led to its Gold Cup meeting being a no-go zone for spectators.
Across the river, crowds are off-limits and the fate of Wodonga's Gold Cup meeting in November remains up in the air due to the dramatic spike of coronavirus cases in Melbourne which saw the tally of daily cases soar to 75 yesterday.
The full-day public holiday for the Gold Cup is also still in place in Wodonga even though there remains doubts about crowds being able to attend.
Racing Wodonga general manager Steve Wright is hoping Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews' recent revelation about different restrictions for regional areas where there are minimal virus cases being considered comes to fruition to deliver some certainty about its biggest race meeting of the year.
The Albury-Wodonga health region has not recorded a COVID-19 case for three months and health authorities are urging residents to avoid unnecessary travel to Melbourne.
"We're planning if we are still going ahead and we are still five months away," Mr Wright said.
"But we've got our fingers crossed.
"We noted with interest Daniel Andrews say they might treat regional areas different to the city.
"It's getting so hard to plan.
"We are trying to book entertainment, but the last thing we want to do is spend $50,000 or $60,000 on a big name act and then the event not go ahead."
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To manage the return of crowds, Albury Racing Club had three zones for members, owners and general public with restrictions on movements around the course for all three.
Wodonga-based club members were unable to attend.
Each area had a cap of 50 people and owners had to leave after watching their horse run and general public attendees were encouraged to notify the club they would be in attendance.
"It is a great step in the right direction," ARC chief executive Steve Hetherton said.
"We've still got a lot of safety aspects in play, but hopefully it is a sign of things to come.
"We're very hopeful our Wodonga members and owners can attend again soon."
Thurgoona's David and Glenice Blake own two horses who ran yesterday.
"It's a small crowd, but it is fantastic to see people back at the races," she said.
"It is good to be out and about and watch your horses race."
Earlier this year the public holiday for the Warrnambool carnival was changed back to Melbourne Cup day when crowds were not permitted to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Country Racing Victoria is not allowing Racing Wodonga to take bookings for this year's event yet.
"Cup day will definitely go ahead regardless of whether we have got crowds or not," Mr Wright said.
"We've sent an email to everyone who had marquees last year saying we are planning to have crowds and we've had a really positive response with those people."