Three years ago, the Werribee Racing Club hedged its bets and moved the Werribee Cup to a December race meeting. On Sunday, that bet paid off in spectacular fashion with the club experiencing its biggest crowd since 2010.

More than 4500 punters frocked up and enjoyed the December sunshine for the eight-race meet, watching the Kylie Vella-trained Aeratus take out the Cup in a photo finish from the Darren Weir-trained Articus. A win for Articus would have been three in a row for Weir.

Historically, the Werribee Cup was run on the Wednesday before the Melbourne Cup – usually late October – but organisers struggled to hold down a consistent date once the international quarantine centre opened in the suburb in 2010.

Werribee Racing Club general manager Glenn Scott said crowd numbers had steadily increased since the Werribee Cup was permanently moved to December three years ago.

He said 1000 people took advantage of just one of the many marquees on offer.

“We used to have a meeting around that date [December] most years, but it was simply a Christmas meeting. Now by combining that with the Cup and having it for the third year in a row on the same date, it’s paying dividends,” Mr Scott said.

“A lot of businesses are ringing us … to book a marquee in August and September, because they know when the Cup’s on.”

The next meet at Werribee racecourse will be held on Christmas Eve, with the club partnering  with Werribee and Wyndham Vale CFAs for the event.