Horse racing: three codes scramble together to minimize diffusion in the racing community


Jockeys will not be allowed to travel between the islands for racing for the next two weeks as the latest step in horse racing’s struggle to keep the industry going under the cloud of Omicron.

Jockeys will not be allowed to travel between the islands for racing for the next two weeks as the latest step in horse racing’s struggle to keep the industry going under the cloud of Omicron.

That was one of the key developments on Monday as officials from the three race codes made efforts to minimize the spread of the most contagious Covid variant, which is expected to hit the community soon.

Both horse and greyhound races can continue under the red light, but race bosses work through protocols to ensure they have the participants needed to actually hold race meetings.

The most crucial among them are jockeys as there are so few riders in the country and for weight, skill and license reasons they are the most difficult to replace.

But keeping the racing going also means having plenty of other skilled personnel, such as Racing Integrity Board members and novice counselors, two groups that are also small in number and difficult to replace.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing has already moved to keep the pools of jockeys in the North and South Islands separate, with inter-island travel not allowed for the next two weeks.

At the very least, that should help stop a nationwide spread within the jockey’s riding ranks if one or more riders become infected, and in the worst-case scenario, if racing was threatened by a short-term lockdown on one island, it could end up on the other. others can continue, provided the industry with a crucial income.

“That is the first step, but we are now also working on a new testing regime for race day participants, especially jockeys,” said NZTR chief executive Bernard Saundry.

“We are looking at the number of rapid antigen tests needed to be tested before meetings, as well as to do saliva tests in between.

“Things are changing very quickly, but the racing continues and we will do our very best to keep it that way and keep the participants safe.

“But we also want them to help with that. To take care of themselves and make good decisions so they can stay safe and still get to work and earn a living.”

Saudry says the decision on whether or not to admit race fans to meetings, in individual pods of 100, will be left to individual clubs based on the resources they have to safely do so.

“Wellington has told us that they will do that for their Cup Day next Saturday, but whether that means an audience will be allowed, we don’t know yet.”

Waikato Racing Club chief executive Andrew Castles says Te Rapa plans to do the same for their big group one meeting in Te Rapa on Feb. 12, provided there are no changes to government regulations before then.

Alexandra Park is hosting their new Harness Millions gathering that evening, but boss Mauro Barsi says a family day event leading up to race night will be canceled.

“We were going to hold an event to welcome people to The Park and get some stores involved in our new developments, but we will postpone that until the settings change,” says Barsi.

“The Harness Million is a huge gathering and we certainly aim to have people there, but how much will depend on any changes to the 100 person per room rules.” New Zealand Bloodstock is another key player in the industry that must plan all the developments as they prepare to host their standardbred sales from Karaka on February 13, and their much larger six-day thoroughbred sales from March 7.

“Both sales are sure to go through at this stage and will be on site with the yearlings here,” said NZB Director Andrew Seabrook.

“We are working on contingencies this week to determine how many people may be in our interior spaces, but we are confident that unless something significant changes at the government level, we will have buyers, as well as all sellers and staff.”


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