Support for return to racing
By Michael Guerin
Two of the north’s biggest stables have added their support to an earliest possible re-start to racing in the region.
And both are hoping they can return to full-time training of racing stock if and when New Zealand returns to level three restrictions, which many are expecting to be next week.
While nobody can be sure when racing will return many of the larger northern stables are confident they could have horses to ready to race in the first week of June or soon after.
And that continues a groundswell of interest in northern harness racing about getting back down to business once we are allowed to and can do so safely inside Government and Ministry for Primary Industries protocols.
“I am keen to support winter racing,” said top trainer Tony Herlihy.
“I am just waiting, like everybody else, to hear when the likely race dates are and if we get the all clear under level 3 to return to training then we will definitely have horses we want to race over the winter.”
Herlihy says it is important for trainers to support the racing re-start.
“We have to start somewhere and I have even got a few horses who would be ready to qualify around that time.
“Sometimes in that situation I might qualify them and tip them out but I want to support racing because we need to get things going again. So if we qualified a horse or two we would look at racing them to help out with fields.
“The industry can’t go anywhere while we aren’t racing so the sooner we get back the better.” Herlihy had worked on educating some of his babies in recent weeks with just two live-in staff to ensure none of his other employees need come to the property.
While Herlihy says he could have “five or six” horses ready to race in June, trainer Michelle Wallis says she and husband Bernie Hackett could have twice that many.
“So soon as they are ready to race we will be ready to go,” said Wallis.
“We are not sure what dates they are talking and I think everybody realises that can change but if it is around June we will definitely have horses ready to race.
“We know a lot will depend on when we can get back to full time training but we could have 10-12 horses read to go by then.
“Ideally we would like to see racing come back first at Alexandra Park because I think with Cambridge being closed for training for a while there won’t be as many Waikato horses ready to race, so Auckland would seem the logical place to kick off.” Both stables are joining others in the north wanting a resumption as soon as possible under whatever new Government restrictions are in place in the weeks and months ahead.