Same but different for this week’s harness racing meetings

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk

Yesterday’s Alert level changes mean harness racing will continue in this country, much as it did post lockdown.

The Government’s moved to place Auckland at Level 3, with the rest of the country at Level 2.

With Cambridge (Thursday) and Auckland (Friday) both holding their meetings this week Harness Racing New Zealand has decided to extend nominations till Tuesday to give those in the industry more time to assess their options.

Should Auckland stay in level 3 past Wednesday night, the meeting will be able to proceed but with no public or owners. Those meetings run under Level 2 allow owners to attend and also give the clubs the opportunity to apply to host pods of up to 100 registered attendees.

Manawatu's six-race on Tuesday will be impacted slightly by a lack of travel permitted out of Auckland but will go ahead with owners allowed to attend, if registered with the club.

Waikato BOP Harness Chief executive David Branch and Karen Blanchard, the Racing Director at Auckland Trotting Club, are ready to roll out the required protocols.

Branch says "We've race under level 2 in the past. We are preparing to race under restrictions but with the ability of horses to travel and for owners to attend and the potential to have pods of 100 people on course, we are confident that we can stage a successful meeting.

"There are 26 horses doubled-up across the two meetings so the delay also will allow trainers to give clubs an indication of where they would prefer to race and set the necessary plans."

Auckland faces the potential of tighter restrictions for their meeting on Friday, but Blanchard was upbeat about running a successful meeting.

"Obviously, we'll be guided by the Government and Wednesday is crucial. We're planning for Level 3, that is racing behind closed doors. Obviously, we are hoping for the best and by holding off doing our fields until tomorrow we're trying to give participants as much time as possible to plan and make appropriate arrangements.”

"This is a key meeting in the build-up to some upcoming Group Ones so we'll be doing everything we can to ensure the meeting is run well, as we move towards our Premier meetings."

HRNZ and respective clubs will be communicating with participants during the week to keep them updated with any developments and will also be updated regularly.


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