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Nation prepares to stop for a Melbourne Cup behind closed doors

Craig Williams (right) drives Vow and Declare to win last year’s Melbourne Cup in a thrilling finish from Prince of Arran. This year “the race that stops a nation” will be held without spectators for the first time in its 144-year history.

MELBOURNE: Australia’s “race that stops a nation” will Tuesday be staged in front of empty grandstands, devoid of the roars from tens of thousands of punters when the Melbourne Cup is run behind closed doors for the first time in its long history.

Held on the first Tuesday of November since 1876, the punishing 3200 metre handicap is so important that race day is a public holiday in the state that hosts it, Victoria, with the winning horse becoming a household name in Australia.

Hordes of colourfully-dressed spectators usually flock to Flemington for a boozy day out, but…

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