Covid-19 action by ARF racing authorities

A week of unprecedented action by racing authorities in various Asian Racing Federation jurisdictions has seen intense restrictions put in place to ensure racing can continue during the world-wide Covid-19 pandemic.

Following the example of countries such as Japan and Hong Kong, racing in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand from this week will take place without spectators in accordance with directives by their respective Government’s.

In Australia the new restrictions include the following:
- No more than 500 people are permitted into the racecourses.
- Only essential racing authority staff, some licensed racing participants, and a restricted number of broadcast and media representatives will be permitted to attend.
- Owners and racing club members along with General Admission customers will not be allowed entry.
- Race meetings will continue to be fully broadcast across SKY Racing and its digital platforms and both on SKY and Channel 7 on Saturday’s.
- No on-course wagering facilities will be available and essential personnel will be required to leave the racecourse after their horses have run.
- Enhanced hygiene measures will also be implemented throughout racecourses.

Both Australia and New Zealand have mandated 14 days of self-isolation for all travellers entering the respectively countries.

This has had the immediate effect of meaning Australian jockeys will not travel to Hong Kong to ride at this Sunday’s Hong Kong Derby meeting and New Zealand trainers, owners and jockeys will not be travelling to Sydney for meetings over the Sydney Autumn Carnival.

Japanese horses, including the Grade 1 winner Mozu Ascot (USA), that were due to travel to Sydney this week have been withdrawn from the Carnival as well.

New Zealand is closely following the Australian restrictions.

In South Africa the country’s National Horseracing Authority, in a joint statement with the operators of the eight racecourses, announced on Monday afternoon that all meetings will be closed to the public until further notice and only essential racing participants will be allowed access to racecourses on race days.

Off-course betting shops will be subject to a maximum of 100 people at any one time and all non-racing events held at racecourses – such as conferences and meetings – are to be cancelled with immediate effect.

Hand sanitisers are to be made widely available on-course and at training centres.

The statement added: “In addition various restrictive measures are to be implemented, as well as potential lockdown procedures put into place, in the eventuality of an outbreak at any of the grooms’ accommodation.”

Outside of Asian Racing Federation countries the news is more drastic with French, German, Belgium, Italy and Jersey have all cancelled racing until mid-April. In France the decision means that the cancellation of racing until April 15th covers a key section of Classic trials on the Flat as well as several prep races for the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris.

In the UK racing from this week will take place without spectators and the world-famous Grand National Festival meetings at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool on April 2nd to 4th has been cancelled.