Victoria's Racing Minister Martin Pakula has given major hope to the Burrumbeet and Windermere Racing Club that its annual meeting will be able to have a significant turnout of patrons.
Speaking on RSN on Monday morning and following the state government's announcement regarding the further easing of COVID-19 restrictions, Pakula said talks were imminent about getting crowds back to race meetings.
Some thoroughbred owners have been allowed on course in regional Victoria during recent weeks - including last Saturday's Ballarat Cup meeting - but patrons are not yet permitted through the gates.
"Basically we've got a public events framework in place where organisations that want to put on events make applications, submit COVID-safe plans and get tick-off," Pakula said.
"The nature of that process differs depending on the size of that event. If it's under 500 it's very different to a Boxing Day Test at the MCG."
Pakula said it was unlikely each club would have to submit applications for events separately.
"We'll work with Country Racing Victoria to try and submit something on behalf of all the country clubs so that once we've got that signed off, so long as everybody abides by whatever protocol is agreed, they'll be able to have some people at their events," he said.
Pakula said the potential for crowds between now to early-mid December would be around the 500 mark, but thought that there was potential for "up to 5000 in a few weeks' time".
On Sunday, Racing Victoria issued a statement acknowledging the latest easing of restrictions.
"RV, Country Racing Victoria and the metropolitan clubs will be discussing this announcement with the government over the coming days to best understand the framework and the opportunities it presents for Victorian racing," it read.
Pakaula said Harness Racing Victoria and Greyhound Racing Victoria would also be part of the discussions regarding crowds. Only essential participants are allowed onto harness and greyhound tracks in this state right now.
The Burrumbeet Cup meeting is scheduled for New Year's Day.