THE raw passion and emotion of spectators as they cheer their favourite runner home is something which has long been a feature of the Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival, but in 2020 things will be a little different.
Come Wednesday when the Bathurst Harness Racing Club's annual carnival commences its 34th edition, it will be closed to spectators.
The move comes as Harness Racing New South Wales puts measures in place to try and restrict the impact of the coronavirus.
Though not all of the five race meetings over the course of the carnival were expected to attract 500 people - the number given in reference to the cancellation of "non-essential" gatherings - HRNSW opted to make a blanket ruling for all its meetings.
"Harness Racing New South Wales clearly wants black and white control over what we do. They don't want to say that 'Yes people can come to this meeting' but then you tick off 500 people through the gate and you have to tell the 501st person no," Bathurst Harness Racing Club chief executive officer Danny Dwyer said.
"It's easier for transparency to have no admission for the general public.
"There will still be racing, there just won't be spectators.They still want the product out there.
"They still want the industry to keep supporting its participants because of prize money and things like that, they want to keep everything going."
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The ruling comes as a bitterly disappointing blow to the Bathurst club given the Gold Crown Carnival is the highlight of its calendar and countless hours had been devoted to organising this year's edition.
Not only will it mean a financial hit, but the finals night atmosphere the carnival has been renowned for will be missing for those who qualify.
But as Dwyer points out "there's obviously bigger issues than just harness racing to consider".
"It comes over a two-week period of the 52 weeks, it's just come at the wrong time. It's one of those things, we need to comply with everything that needs to be done," he said.
"We have to do everything we can, make sure we adhere to everything that's in place, to help in the prevention of the disease."
Amongst the disappointment, there is still some good news for the club and local harness racing fans.
Some of the carnival's events which compliment the race meetings will still go ahead. They include Sunday's Gold Crown Yearling Sale at the Bathurst Paceway and the Gold Crown honouree dinner on March 27.
"The yearling sale will be right to go, but there will still be restrictions on that around entries as well. At this stage we will be under the 500 people mark, so we are hopeful we can hold that sale and still comply with everything we need to do," Dwyer said.
"The honouree dinner will still go ahead at the RSL Club ... the things we need to look at now from a management point of view are the barrier draw and calcutta and Gold Crown Ball, just to see whether we have got the numbers.
"The ball was going to be this Saturday night, just to get it going again. That was the general feeling from the younger people, they wanted to bring it back.
"We were really hoping to reinvigorate the ball ... we'll just see how it goes with our numbers, we'll work on that over the next couple of days."