Covid racing update

By Michael Guerin

The right of owners to see their horses race live will be a key point of debate as New Zealand horse racing continues on under the two differing Covid-19 levels.

But from the industry participants point of view it will be more or less racing as is, just with a few restrictions on travel.

While Auckland is set to stay at Level 3 until at least 11.59pm on Sunday night there are no horse racing meeting scheduled for inside the region in that period.

Alexandra Park were not programmed to race this week while the gallops meetings at Ruakaka on Wednesday has been transferred to Rotorua.

So no race meetings of either equine code will be lost to the Level 3 restrictions but horse people inside the Auckland area will not be allowed to accompany horses to race meetings in the Waikato.

That means horses from Pukekohe north can race at the harness meeting at Cambridge this Thursday but their trainers can’t travel with them.

The differing restriction levels also means that any jockeys or harness drivers in the Auckland region can’t compete at this week’s meetings but will be able to from next week if, as expected, Auckland returns to Level 2.

Owners with horses racing will be allowed to attend Thursday’s harness meeting at Cambridge where they can be easily separated from participants in the Clubhouse Cafe and Bar on track.

“We did that for our Sunday meeting last week and kept the numbers below 100. We sent all the owners an email once the fields came out asking them to register to come along,” says Cambridge harness boss David Branch.

But New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing will today discuss whether that is logistically possible for their club’s racing in the next 12 days.

“It is easier for some clubs than others to allow owners to attend so we will work through that with them and discuss protocols,” says NZTR chief executive Bernard Saundry.

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