COVID-19 Update (Jockey and Trainer Protocols, Official Trials)

Racing Victoria (RV) wishes to advise of changes to the biosecurity protocols in place in Victoria to allow for the safe continuation of racing and training during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The protocols, which were developed in accordance with all current Government directives, guidelines and advice, have served to protect the health of industry staff, participants and the wider community; maintain 25,000 full-time equivalent jobs; and ensure daily care and exercise can be afforded to all thoroughbred racehorses.

The protocols are continually reviewed based on Government directives, risk analysis, industry compliance, participant feedback and the broader community landscape.

With the significant reduction of COVID-19 cases within Victoria, RV, in consultation with industry stakeholder groups, has determined that certain protocols are to be eased in the coming days. In doing so RV notes that, should circumstances change within Victoria, these protocols (and others that may be appropriate) may be reintroduced to again protect the industry.

Jockey & Track Riders Protocols

Effective from 11.59pm (AEDT) on Sunday, 15 November 2020, the following changes to jockey and track rider protocols will take effect:

  • the separation requirement of jockeys into the Green and Gold Teams will be removed subject to maintaining appropriate distancing and room quotients within jockey facilities; and
  • the daily limit on the number of venues at which jockeys and track riders may ride will be removed subject to compliance with COVID-19 biosecurity protocols.

RV also advises that the COVID-19 adjusted riding weight scales will continue until 31 December 2020, with a view to reverting to normal scales in the new year. This date will remain the subject of an ongoing review.

Trainer & Stable Staff Protocols

Effective from 11.59pm (AEDT) on Sunday, 15 November 2020, the following changes to the trainer and stable staff protocols will take effect:

  • the rule of a maximum of one stable staff member per horse in attendance at each meeting will be removed. Whilst the cap has been removed, trainers are asked to only bring those licensed or registered persons with a genuine role to perform at the race meeting. All stable staff will be required to continue to comply with social distancing requirements; and 
  • one representative from each stable will now be permitted in the mounting yard to leg up a jockey, provided that they leave the mounting yard immediately thereafter and continue to comply with RV’s COVID-19 protocols.

Resumption of Official Trials

Official Trials have been approved to resume on a restricted basis, commencing at Tatura on Monday, 23 November 2020.

In order to limit the number of horses and maintain COVID-19 distancing requirements, Official Trials will initially be limited to specified classes of horses (2YOs, 3YOs, unraced horses of any age and horses embargoed pending certification) with a maximum of 12 horses per trainer.

A new Official Trials schedule will be released by RV in the next fortnight with two sets of Official Trials to be programmed on average each month in the initial phase.

Protocols restricting jump-outs at a venue to locally trained horses only are the subject of ongoing review and remain unchanged until otherwise advised.

Quotes attributable to RV Chief Executive, Giles Thompson

“It’s pleasing that we have reached a position where we can start to ease some of our biosecurity protocols and in doing so I would like to recognise all the hard work of everyone across the industry that has allowed for the continuation of Victorian racing right throughout the pandemic.

“I would also like to especially thank our Racing Clubs, who have helped implement and manage the protocols on raceday and our jockeys, in particular the members of the Green Team, who have made significant sacrifices throughout 2020 to provide the industry with options in the advent of a case or cluster.

“While it is terrific that we can ease some protocols, I want to implore everyone to avoid complacency. If you or someone you live with are unwell, please stay home, let us know and get yourself tested. In addition, you must continue to wear face masks as required and ensure that you maintain appropriate social distancing.

“Moving forward, we’ll continue to review all of our biosecurity protocols on a weekly basis both to determine what is necessary to ensure the safe continuation of racing and to consider any changes announced by State Governments, in particular around border closures and interstate travel.”