Update on tomorrow’s Victorian race meetings

Racing Victoria (RV) advises that a decision on whether tomorrow’s race meetings at Warrnambool and Pakenham will proceed as programmed may not be made until tomorrow morning.

RV is still awaiting notification of the result of the COVID-19 test undertaken by licensed jockey Mark Zahra who was advised yesterday by health authorities that he was unknowingly on the same commercial flight 14 days ago [12 March 2020] as a confirmed case.

In the event that his test result is not known by 7am tomorrow, RV will postpone the Warrnambool meeting [first race 11.50am] until Monday, 30 March with further details on the postponement to be communicated if required.

In the event that his test result is not known by 12 noon tomorrow, the Pakenham twilight meeting [first race 4.15pm] will not proceed either and a further announcement will be made on any necessary programming changes.

A decision regarding the conduct of tomorrow’s Flemington jump-outs and whether licensed flat jockeys [excluding picnic riders] within the ‘Gold Team’ will be permitted to ride trackwork tomorrow and/or participate in the jump-outs will be made at 7.30pm this evening.

A standing order remains for all industry participants to remain at home if they are feeling unwell, are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with a confirmed case.

If the test result is known later this evening, RV will seek to advise the industry this evening.

RV Chief Executive, Giles Thompson said: “We appreciate everyone’s patience as we await the result of the test, in particular for Mark who has been placed under undue pressure through no fault of his own. I know that the best wishes of the industry are with him and I want to again thank and publicly acknowledge the professional and responsible manner in which he has acted.

“As I have stated on numerous occasions we have two clear objectives; to protect the health and wellbeing of industry staff, participants and indeed the wider community; and to provide a framework that allows for the safe continuation of Victorian racing for the 25,000 people whose livelihoods depend on it and for our horses which require ongoing care and attention.

“As noted yesterday, should Mark’s test be negative, we will resume racing as soon as possible under the strict COVID-19 protocols we’ve implemented in accordance with all the current directives, guidelines and advice established by the Victorian Government on the advice of the Chief Health Officer.”