Racing thrown a lifeline as training centres and stables deemed essential services
Racing has been thrown a lifeline by the Government during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Ministry Of Primary Industries has announced that training centres, stables, agistment properties and stud farms where horses are in containment are considered essential services under animal welfare considerations.
Businesses with more than five people (including the owner) working at each business site, or who cannot achieve social distancing between staff, are required to register.
The businesses will need to answer 11 questions to provide assurance they have a plan and process to manage infection risks. Much of this will be covered in the protocols which will be distributed later today.
MPI has requested that all businesses which need to register do so by 5pm on Friday, 27 March 2020. Businesses will be able to continue operating while going through the registration process.
New Zealand Throughbred Racing, the NZ Trainers’ Association and the NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association will be providing a template to assist with completing the paperwork later today.
The decision comes after a combined plea from NZTR and Harness Racing New Zealand which are confident training tracks and stables can remain safe places of work under strict protocols and that people in racing can look after horses without further spread of Covid-19.
The codes’ plan stipulated only essential working personnel would be allowed at training tracks and that all safety measures implemented by the MIP would be followed.
The news was welcomed by Lincoln Farms’ trainer Ray Green.
“Common sense has prevailed. We’ll be able to look after the horses better rather than just slinging them out in the paddock.
“And this will save a heap of jobs and potentially keep the whole game alive. We can continue to train the horses and have them ready to go when racing resumes.
“Otherwise it could have been another three or four months even when we got back to level three and that would have been disastrous for the industry.”
The decision will send a number of the country’s biggest stables into a spin as they have already sent their teams to agistment farms.
NZ Trainers’ Association president Tony Pike said he had cut his team from 80 to 25 and even though trainers now had the go ahead to work horses it was not the intention that full teams would be maintained.
“We’ve been given a small window of opportunity and everyone has to be very careful how we do this.
“I understand they’re working through the protocols now and that there won’t be any jumpouts or trials - it’s purely to enable us to exercise our horses.
“Obviously only a couple of horses will be allowed on the track at once as we’ll need to keep everyone as far apart as we can.”
Pike said he was very pleased MPI had allowed horses to stay in work as “we were running out of room for agistment and with no grass, and getting into winter, places would be seriously over-stocked.
“If the tracks hadn’t reopened we’d only have had half a dozen small paddocks for the ones left, and a walker, and the animals would quickly have become stir crazy.”
More news in Harness
10 out of 10 drive on Captain Nemo earns Mark title of Dux of the class, 60 years and all
Tommy Lincoln in terrific form but he’s at the mercy of the pole runner on Saturday night
Mark takes a turn in the sulky behind luckless Captain Nemo at Albion Park tonight
Not hard to see Arden’s Horizon doing best of the newbies at Auckland on Friday night
Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them
Friday night at Auckland
Race 2: Arden’s Horizon
“He certainly looks a good chance on paper. He’s a good, honest pacer and there’s nothing wonderful in there against him.”
Race 4: Nirvana Franco
“She’s got a good draw and is a bit more experienced than the others and seems to be waking up. She’s a big filly who’s filling out nicely now.”
Race 4: Bet On The Tiger
“He has a lot to learn. He still paddles a bit on the corners but he’ll get there. He’s a trier.”
Race 4: Argyle
“I think he’ll go well. He’s one of those Bettors Delights who don’t really try that hard in training but he does most things right and he’s looking OK.”
Race 4: Next To Me
“He’s got a long way to go yet but he’s training better. He’s a lazy type who takes a bit of encouragement to go. This race should wake him up a bit.”
Race 5: Louie LeBeau
“He’s got a lot of ability but he’s not as strong as he could be yet so I wouldn’t want to see him launched and put into the race too soon. But with a nice, soft trip he’s definitely a chance.”
Race 5: Pasquale
“He’s a lovely pacer who might not have as much speed as Louie LeBeau but he seems to keep going. He’s the only one on the second row so he can follow out which one he likes. There are some promising types in this but he’ll go well.”
Mark Dux’s comments
Friday night at Albion Park
Race 3: Captain Nemo
9.40pm NZ time
“I think he would have won easily last week if he’d got a clear run, he was going half pace. It’s not an overly hard field tonight and it will only be the traffic that stops him. With average luck, he’ll be right in the finish.”
Saturday night at Albion Park
Race 1: Tommy Lincoln
8.10pm NZ time
“It’s a tricky alley but but he’s certainly going well enough to be among them. It will all come down to how quickly the one horse gets out. If she holds the front, Tommy’s a winning chance from the trail. If she hands up, and puts Tommy three deep, we’re only running for a place.”