Southwest racing under new coronavirus travel restrictions
JOCKEYS and horse trainers of the southwest are effectively locked inside the region for the foreseeable future, as Racing Queensland implements strict new measures to stop coronavirus spreading on the state’s racetracks.
From today, trainers and jockeys from the Darling Downs racing region – which includes country tracks from Oakey to Quilpie – will not be able to travel to race meets outside of the designated zone. Major tracks including Toowoomba and Warwick are off limits.
Downs country representative and Roma race caller Peter Flynn said the new rules are not a quarantine as such, but are essential to stop coronavirus from devastating bush racing.
“This is to isolate as many people in the industry so their ability to contract coronavirus is lessened,” he said.
“By setting up the regions and virtually closing the borders in those regions will allow participants to continue racing in their own region.
“We hope this will keep the industry going, and look after animal welfare; if our people aren’t able to look after their horses in the stables, they will have to finish.”
The announcement comes after Racing Queensland declared race meetings would be conducted without punters, and only allow essential personnel at turf clubs.
In Roma, this weekend’s much anticipated Picnic Races were due to draw thousands of spectators, but will now run with a skeleton crew of trainers, jockeys and staff.
While the crowds won’t be there, the new isolation measures have actually created a jump in runners for the popular race day.
“We will expect fewer participants (owners), but it is looking like the number of horses in each race will be growing,” Flynn said.
“That is the situation with regionalisation – the region Roma is going to race in goes out almost to Toowoomba, south to the border and Goondiwindi, and north to places like Eidsvold.
“It is a massive region and I believe the number of horses travelling to come to those meets will be in excess of what we are getting at the moment.”
All upcoming race meetings at Roma will be TAB meetings and are set for broadcast on the Sky Racing Channel.
A livestream of Saturday’s Picnic Races will also be broadcast via the official Facebook page.
Racing will begin at 11.30am with the Hall Chadwick Maiden Plate, and the final race will be the TopX Roma Benchmark at 1.30pm.