Racing Victoria (RV) notes media reports regarding a decision overnight by the Warrnambool City Council (WCC) to vote to write to the Victorian Government requesting that two upcoming Warrnambool race meetings be cancelled and makes the following statement in response:
RV is today writing to the WCC to provide assurances around the strict biosecurity protocols that will be in place for the Warrnambool race meetings scheduled on Tuesday, 5 May and Wednesday, 6 May.
These will be the same biosecurity protocols, together with further recent enhancements, that were in place for the successful conduct of the Warrnambool race meeting on Friday, 27 March without incident.
Having not been presented with the opportunity to discuss this matter with Councillors prior to their reported decision we look forward to the opportunity to provide them with a detailed overview of the strict measures that we have in place.
RV and the Warrnambool Racing Club (WRC) share the reported views of the WCC that we don’t want people staying in Warrnambool at the time of these race meetings, not only for the health of the local community but for that of industry participants and staff.
It is for this very reason that the event was completely restructured by RV and WRC last week so there are different groups of participants and essential staff attending each race meeting, thus meaning that they don’t have to stay locally nor interact with the local community.
There will be no industry staff staying in Warrnambool and RV and the WRC are telling any participants that don’t live locally to drive to the Racecourse and back home on the same day and not stay locally. This is as important for their health and ongoing livelihoods as it is for that of the local community.
For the avoidance of any doubt, there will be no crowds in attendance at Warrnambool and only a core group of essential staff and participants who have been operating under the industry’s biosecurity protocols since 13 March.
Equally, there will be no one travelling from interstate to these race meetings. RV’s protocols preclude any participant or essential staff member from attending a racecourse, training centre or stables for 14 days upon entry to Victoria.
The WCC and Warrnambool community can rest assured that this will be the May Racing Carnival in name only. It will look and feel nothing like the event that the local community or indeed the racing industry are used to.
In fact, each meeting will have less people in attendance than the restricted number that attended the successful 27 March meeting at Warrnambool due to the decision to split the jumps and flat races across two meetings.
RV and the Warrnambool Racing Club are fully aware of the seriousness of this pandemic which is why the industry sought to lock out crowds prior to Government restrictions on social gatherings coming into force.
As it currently stands, racing is permitted to continue in Victoria under the strict biosecurity protocols which are over and above the directives, guidelines and advice of the Victorian Government acting on the Chief Health Officer.
Racing supports the equivalent of 25,000 full-time jobs in Victoria and the primary reason that it is continuing in a safe and responsible manner is to support those people whose livelihoods depend on it.
The continuation of racing and training in Victoria is also vital for the welfare of nearly 10,000 racehorses who require daily exercise and who rely upon the people working in the industry to provide them with essential care and nutrition every day.
Thoroughbred racing contributes $75 million annually to the Warrnambool and South West economy, an area which boasts close to 4,500 thoroughbred racing participants.
It is a region that is steeped in racing tradition and one that will continue to be for years to come. The racing industry will be there to support local Warrnambool businesses when this crisis is over, restoring the Warrnambool May Carnival to its full glory in 2021.