NZTR chief executive Bernard Saundry.  Photo: Trish Dunell

NZTR establish plan for a return to racing

NZ Racing Desk
18 August 2021

While racing has temporarily ceased in New Zealand as a result of COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown restrictions, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) has put in a contingency plan for its resumption this weekend.

On Tuesday evening New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the nation would enter COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions as of 11:59pm on Tuesday for a period of three days, with Auckland and the Coromandel region remaining at Level 4 for an additional four days.

As a result, race meetings at Cambridge on Wednesday, Oamaru on Friday, and Ruakaka on Saturday have been abandoned.

In preparation for New Zealand dropping to Level 3 on Saturday, with the exception of Auckland and Coromandel, NZTR have rescheduled meetings to recommence this weekend.

“With racing able to recommence under Alert Level 3 restrictions, we are busy working with our participants, clubs, and sector groups to reschedule our racing,” NZTR chief executive Bernard Saundry said.

“We are planning at this point, assuming that by Friday afternoon that we come out of Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3, that we will hold race meetings at Cambridge and New Plymouth on Saturday, and at Rotorua on Sunday.

“There will be 12 races at Cambridge and seven at the Taranaki meeting, with a 10 race programme scheduled for Rotorua.

“These plans are dependent on the relevant areas being out of Level 4 on raceday.

“We need to be agile and keep the participants informed as to the changing pace of what we can and can’t do.

“It is a watch and see for us on a daily basis. We would all love to see us come out of this (lockdown) as quickly as possible, but we also have to be concerned about the health of the nation and making sure we can put racing back on the agenda as quickly as possible, and in a safe environment.

“In the circumstance that we remain in lockdown (level 4) on the weekend, we will look to reschedule (races) the following week when we come out of Level 4.

“We do want to race, but we will only do so when the Government allows it.”

“The Oamaru meeting has been postponed on Friday, but there is almost an identical programme scheduled for Ashburton on Thursday the 26th of August,” Saundry said.

“We are going to run an additional race, an Open 1200m race, and we will have the ability to divide a race or races if the numbers permit.”

With the Ruakaka meeting cancelled on Saturday, the Gr.3 Cambridge Stud Northland Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) will now likely take place at Te Rapa on August 28.

Trainers are reminded that horses based at Pukekohe and further north, but not staff, can be floated to meetings in other areas by commercial transport companies but arrangements need to be made to put the horses into the care of another trainer once they arrive at the course.

The proposed meetings at New Plymouth, Cambridge and Rotorua will be closed meetings, which means that only essential staff are able to attend.

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