The Bathurst Gold Crown meeting will go ahead on Saturday night after a Harness Racing NSW steward tested negative to COVID-19.
The steward had been in close contact last week with a Penrith official, who has since tested positive for the virus, but he was cleared on Friday allowing harness racing to resume around the country.
Harness set to resume on Saturday after steward tests negative to COVID-19Credit:Katherine Griffiths
"We took extra precautions to protect the industry by testing the steward early and it was a tremendous relief when his COVID-19 test came back with a negative result," Harness Racing NSW chief executive John Dumesny said.
"It is a reminder to the harness racing community to follow all biosecurity protocols, which will become tighter to keep us racing until the virus is eradicated from Australia."
The coronavirus scares also led to race meetings being cancelled on Thursday while waiting for jockey Mark Zahra’s test, which came back negative. Racing officials are moving towards strengthening biosecurity measures with numbers on track to be significantly reduced again, so the sport can keep going.
All states have gone to racing in different regions in an effort to minimise the risk of one COVID-19 case shutting down the industry.
Queensland and South Australia have called off their winter carnivals in response to the pandemic.
Racing Queensland chief executive Brendan Parnell announced regionalised racing on Thursday and has set up a hardship fund for industry participants from the prizemoney saved by cancelling the carnival.
“Given the circumstances, it is the right decision to abandon our carnivals,” Parnell said.
“Our carnivals are used as the shop-front to showcase our codes and to attract patrons, and in this current environment, it is not responsible.
“With restrictions on interstate travel, the quality of racing will be diluted. More importantly, however, we will require the funding to be directed to assist our stakeholders in their hour of need.”
Thoroughbred Racing SA will slash prizemoney by 15 per cent and reduce black-type racing prizemoney to benchmark levels from the beginning of April. They have also called off the Oakbank Easter carnival.
“Our aim is to keep racing going, just as it has been able to in Hong Kong and Japan during the pandemic. It is vitally important that we keep going to ensure there is not a significant equine welfare [situation] that will arise should all thoroughbred horse activities be stopped,” TRSA chief executive Nick Redin said.
“The prizemoney reductions are necessary to try to ensure the industry’s ongoing viability. We’ve discussed this measure with some of our leading trainers, and they understand that we have to do whatever is necessary to get through this.”
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