NO CROWDS: Races planned for this weekend will still be going ahead, but with no spectators. IMAGE: file.
NO CROWDS: Races planned for this weekend will still be going ahead, but with no spectators. IMAGE: file.

Racing continues despite gathering ban, but there’s a catch

THERE is bittersweet news for horse racing fans as two local clubs confirm their events planned for this weekend will be going ahead – with a catch.

Racing Queensland this week passed down a new advisement, that all scheduled events go ahead with only key personnel, and no patrons, until further notice.

The decision was made in response to the ongoing COVID-19 situation and the Federal Government’s ban of gatherings with more than 500 people.

Kilcoy Race Club chairman Conway Searle confirmed the news.

“The Kilcoy Race Club will race this Sunday, but general public and owners will not be allowed into the Kilcoy race course,” he said.

“The only persons allowed into the track will be RQ staff, QRIS registered licensees, and the race club’s essential staff.”

He said, even though people would not be able to watch in person, the races would still be broadcast on Sky TV.

The status of future race meetings, the next currently scheduled for April 18, remains uncertain.

The Lockyer Turf Club committee released a statement confirming a similar situation for the Laidley Cup on Saturday, which had been expected to draw a crowd of 1500 or more.

“It is extremely disappointing, not only for our club but for the businesses around the Valley who were involved with catering, FOTF, the band, bar, and betting, and staff who will now miss out on wages for the day,” the club said.

“Our patrons’ safety is the most important and we feel this is the best decision.”

Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell explained the decision behind the new mandate.

“We are experiencing a unique and complex situation which requires Racing Queensland to adopt a uniform approach,” he said.

“The health and safety of our 40,000 participants, including those who are employed in the industry, remains our top priority and we will continue to work with our clubs, QRIC and participants to navigate this period.”

According to the release issued by Racing Queensland, access to events will be permitted to licenced participants who have a horse or greyhound engaged at the meeting, along with essential club, QRIC and RQ staff; broadcast services, approved accredited media and associated staff required to conduct racing activities including veterinarians and ambulance services.

Access will not be permitted to the general public in any code, nor owners or on-course wagering providers.

“We are mindful of the carnivals we have on the horizon – and the impact that this decision may have on our clubs,” Mr Parnell said.

“But it is important that we restrict on-course access in the short-term to limit the potential spread of COVID-19 and the potential impact to our industry.”