Update on the continuation of Victorian racing

Racing Victoria (RV) Chief Executive, Giles Thompson, has today issued the following update regarding the immediate future of Victorian thoroughbred racing in light of announcements by the Victorian Government over the past 24 hours on the imposition of Stage 4 restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne and Stage 3 restrictions in regional Victoria.

“We note the announcements by the Victorian Government regarding the strengthening of measures to contain the COVID-19 virus outbreak across the state of Victoria and the additional restrictions that are being imposed throughout this week.

“Since mid-March, Victorian racing has continued under strict biosecurity protocols that have been implemented in addition to all Government directives and advice. These biosecurity protocols are designed to allow for the safe continuation of racing and training, as well as the appropriate and timely management of any confirmed COVID-19 case.

“It is these biosecurity protocols, coupled with the diligence and cooperation of all within Victorian racing, that has seen 190 race meetings and over 1600 races safely conducted in Victoria during that period without a single case of COVID-19 in our industry.

“Throughout the pandemic our clear objectives have been to protect the health and wellbeing of industry staff, participants and the wider community; maintain 25,000 full-time equivalent jobs; and ensure essential daily care and exercise can be afforded to our horses.

“Thoroughbred racing generates over $3.2 billion economic activity within the state of Victoria and supports the employment of a vast array of people including trainers, stable staff, jockeys, breeders, vets, farriers, float drivers, administrators, officials and many more. It is an important contributor to the state of Victoria, particularly throughout country and regional areas.

“We have today been advised by the Victorian Government that racing and training can continue under the strict biosecurity protocols that have safely guided our industry throughout the past four-and-a-half months without a COVID-19 case.

“We don’t take the right to continue racing during these unprecedented times lightly and are extremely grateful for the opportunity to maintain jobs and continue supporting the 110,000 people who are employed or participating in Victorian thoroughbred racing.

“As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to take decisive action to ensure that we provide the safest environment possible for those participating in Victorian racing, as well as the wider community.

“With immediate effect all owners are banned from attending race meetings in Victoria until otherwise advised, with a return to essential staff and active participants only.

“We have been continually reviewing our biosecurity protocols throughout the pandemic and this will be a key focus again over the coming days to determine what further enhancements can and should be made in light of the current circumstances within Victoria.

“I also want to take the opportunity to remind everyone within the Victorian racing industry of the critical need to continue to abide by all Government directives, in addition to our biosecurity protocols. No one wants to undo all the great work by the industry to reach this point.

“Please stay at home if you or a member of your household feel unwell; have been tested and are awaiting results; or if any of you may be a close contact of a possible or confirmed COVID-19 case. If in any doubt in situations like this, do the right thing by the industry, the community and your colleagues and stay at home, whether you have symptoms or not.”