The Towong Cup could have sold out three times over as the turf club's 150th year was celebrated.
Saturday's event was restricted to 1500 people and followed a phantom race meet last year.
Despite the cap, it was the biggest event to take place in the Towong community since bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Towong Turf Club president Alex Mackinnon said the 20-member volunteer committee had worked hard to make it happen.
"Everyone's happy, it was a pity we couldn't have the full crowd that we usually would have - we had 3000 last year without horses," he said.
"They did give us the opportunity to go to 2000 last week, but with the work involved, we decided not to.
"Everyone has to have a chair and there's social distancing rules.
"Numbers went from 1000 to 1500 - it has gone up and down.
"It's just good to see horses racing again."
Fashions on the field could not take place due to restrictions, with COVID-19 marshalls and police roaming to ensure social distancing compliance.
Race five was a fairy-tale result for turf club committee member Dixie Coutts, winning at her home track with Euphemia, bred by her sister Wendy.
"Winning at Towong is just the icing on the cake," she said.
"Our father was the president for a long time and our great-grandfather beforehand; we've had a long involvement."
Mrs Coutts has helped create commemorative story boards that were installed recently underneath the club's 110-year-old grandstand.
"I've been doing a bit of research, talking to old-timers and reading through all the old race books and newspaper articles," she said.
"They're a still a lot out there to find - we are planning a website and a book."
Towong Cup, which Tom Mitchell described as dwarfing Christmas, has only been disrupted in the 1939 bushfires, World War II and last year - when 80 millimetres of rain made the track unsafe.
During the Depression, a meeting attracted only eight runners "but still the club fought on", Mrs Coutts said.
"In 2020, the New Year arrived with deadly bushfires. The historic grandstand, which had undergone costly restoration in 2014-15, was itself under threat."
But the iconic grandstand was saved.
The same families that fought to protect property in the region put their support behind the event once more.
The Chisholm family which sponsored race five has had an association with the club for nearly the entirety of its history.
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Bruce Chisholm was president from 1986 to 1987 and was one of five committeemen pictured in 1974 - a moment in history which featured on the grandstand storyboards.
Harry Chisholm said it was a pleasure for Khancoban Station to support the club and committee.
"Without these enthusiastic people ... it would not happen," he said.
Member for Benambra Bill Tilley was among the punters in the crowd and said the COVID-19 restrictions were frustrating.
"They're precautions coming from people at desktops in Melbourne," he said.
"Credit goes to Al and the volunteer committee for their work every year."
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