Singapore suspends racing, updates from Australia and New Zealand

Singapore race meetings and overseas simulcast races will be suspended from Tuesday, 7 April 2020 to Monday, 4 May 2020.

This is in line with the Singapore Government’s enhanced measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said during a press conference on the COVID-19 situation that Singapore Pools and horse racing would have to close as part of tighter measures, after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in a live telecast that all workplaces - except for those providing essential services - and schools would be closed under a month-long "circuit breaker" to stem the pandemic.

The tightened measure comes amid a rise in the number of daily new COVID-19 cases, as well as local transmissions and clusters in Singapore.

Local horse racing activities at the Singapore Turf Club will be temporarily suspended from Tuesday, and Singapore Pools will not offer sports betting and wagering until further notice, it said.

"These are temporary measures and we hope to resume operations in line with government directives," said a Singapore Turf Club spokesperson on Saturday.

In Australia last week racing in Tasmania was closed by the State Government for four weeks. Training facilities are permitted to remain open.

NSW racing continues however Racing NSW announced that they are following Victoria in reducing prizemoney with the main source of funding for prizemoney, wagering, severely impacted by the current lockdowns of pubs, clubs and TAB retail agencies.

Racing NSW has determined that prizemoney reductions need to be introduced until 30 June 2020.

The state industry body has also advised that it will absorb racing club losses from its future fund and also provide further funding to NSW race clubs from Racing NSW’s cash reserves to sustain those race clubs while the industry faces the uncertainty and challenges presented by the current situation.

The following prizemoney reductions will apply from Sunday, 12 April, 2020, until Tuesday, 30 June, 2020:
• Prizemoney for NSW races of $100,000 and above will be reduced by 20% (subject to some selected feature races on Saturday metropolitan race meetings);
• Prizemoney for NSW races between $25,000 and $100,000 will be reduced by 10%;
• Minimum prizemoney for Country TAB race meetings will be reduced from $22,000 to $20,000.

Future race meetings have also been reallocated on a regional basis to ensure that racing continues with jockeys and industry participants strictly limited to specific regions to ensure there is no spread of a potential outbreak of Covid-19.

Racing Queensland announced it will provide $2.4 million in funding to support its TAB clubs in the short-term. $1.8 million in funding was advanced to provide immediate cash flow relief and there will be a further $600,000 in emergency support for its clubs until the end of the financial year.

Racing Queensland Chairman Steve Wilson AM said the organisation had approved the funding as part of a multi-staged approach to providing financial assistance to its clubs.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing advised that based on the assumption of a four-week lockdown they targeting a return to racing on 1 July, 2020, at a reduced network of venues.

An indicative four-month calendar has been developed and the key components are as follows:
• If training is able to resume in May, we anticipate trialling in late June with race dates from 1 July
• Building from a single meeting per week in each region in July
• A focus on racing near the horse population in early months and building to wider venue use by late Spring
• Incentives being explored to get horses to the races rather than multiple trials
• The removal of nomination and acceptance fees during the initial period
• A programme that needs to be flexible, with races over shorter distances initially
• No reduction to the minimum stake but a flatter stake model across the board initially to ensure wider distribution of funds to owners
• A return to jumps racing is likely for Northern region but unlikely for South due to likely travel restrictions
• The scheduling of Group and Listed races and reviewing the pattern has been discussed and the recognition that travel restrictions will require a new way of thinking
• Data is important and a team from NZTR’s National Racing Bureau will be making contact with trainers over the coming weeks. Information on the number of horses potentially able to enter work will play a part in forming the programming of races when we resume.
In addition to the measures and activity referred to above NZTR:
• Has reduced payroll and contractor costs by 20% since the shutdown of racing including the salaries of Board members by 100% and the CEO by 25%
• Commenced the development of enhancing the protocols and actions required when a return to racing and training is possible under the Government Alert level system.
• Worked with RITA and the Government in providing data and information on how NZTR wants racing to resume with an appropriate funding model.
• Conducted phone and video conferences with stakeholders and club representatives to provide information and responding to queries in these uncertain times.