Covid restrictions impact NZ Derby

28 February 2021
New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) and the Auckland Racing Club (ARC) held discussions this morning regarding the impact of last night's announcement that Auckland was moving back into Covid Alert Level 3 for seven days.
Of primary concern to the racing industry is the Group One Vodafone New Zealand Derby, which was due to be run at Ellerslie on Saturday, 6 March. Under the current status with Auckland at Alert Level 3 and the remainder of the country at Alert Level 2 the meeting is unable to be held at Ellerslie on that day.

NZTR and the ARC's preferred solution is to move the Vodafone New Zealand Derby meeting to Sunday, 7 March in the hope that Auckland would move back to Alert Level 2 at the end of the seven-day period announced by the government.

"While this is the 'best case' scenario, it is by no means a certainty," NZTR CEO Bernard Saundry said. "We are continuing to work through different options should indications be that Auckland will not come out of Alert Level 3 at that time. Our focus, and that of the ARC, is to ensure that the country's blue riband event for our three-year-olds goes ahead. Two World Wars failed to see the New Zealand Derby stopped and we are determined that Covid won't either."

"There are a couple of options we are considering in conjunction with our stakeholders and we are all focused on making the best of the cards we have been dealt,” he said.

ARC CEO Paul Wilcox agreed that the focus must be on making any change work for stakeholders.

“Our priority is to ensure horses and trainers do not have their planned programmes unduly impacted. In what is a tricky situation running the Derby on Sunday is the best course of action, we have plans in place should that not eventuate but we are hoping we do not need to activate these,” he said.

With the ARC unable to race on Saturday 6 March the meeting scheduled for Awapuni on Friday, 5 March will move to the following day to provide two race meetings on Saturday. NZTR is also continuing to work with Hawke’s Bay Racing Incorporated (3 March) and Otago RC (6 March) to determine they have protocols in place for racing under Alert Level 2.

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