May 2, 2020
Racing clubs from around the world have contacted the Australian Turf Club in Sydney for advice on how to keep thoroughbreds racing during the coronavirus lockdown.
Australia is one of the few countries to still have live horse racing together with Hong Kong and Japan, whose racing authorities have both come to the ATC for advice.
“The Australian Turf Club has led the way in keeping thoroughbred racing going and deploying what we believe are world’s best practices,” ATC chairman Matthew McGrath said.
“International jurisdictions and race clubs from across Australia have approached the Australian Turf Club for advice and procedures, which is a tremendous endorsement of our staff and our racing.”
At today’s Royal Randwick meeting there will be no spectators or owners at the track, with less than 300 people in attendance. Jockeys are temperature tested upon arrival at the course and isolated in up to eight separate jockey rooms.
Jockeys and trainers are kept separate and trainers can no longer give jockeys leg ups onto their horses — that role instead going to dedicated individual staff.
All race day staff including clerks of course and barrier attendants wear gloves and face masks.
Mr McGrath said the safety measures had been shared with tracks right across the country.
“This collegiate and positive interaction across Australia and beyond shows how racing can work together to create great outcomes,” he said.
“The ATC and Racing NSW Stewards are determined to keep our participants healthy and safe and to keep racing operating for the tens of thousands of people who work in the industry and the many millions more who enjoy it.”
University of Sydney business expert Dr Rohan Miller said the Australian racing industry employed almost 50,000 nationally and pumped $3.5 billion into the economy across 800 race meetings a year.
“The racing industry has an enormous value chain that reaches into the depths of rural Australia and is so very important to a broad range of industries that it keeps going,” he said.
“It is also an important part of the content in our lives at this time when there are not a lot of other sporting options.”
Top trainer Gai Waterhouse said: “Keeping the racing industry going is essential for the welfare of thousands of people who are employed by it. There are people there who simply could not get a job in another industry and would be unemployed if racing stopped.
“Right now it is the only sport in Australia that you can watch every day, have a bet and get some relief from this hideous lockdown.
“You have to give people something to look forward to.”
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