Day At The Track

Tasmanian racing well placed to go it alone

06:24 AM 24 Mar 2020 NZDT
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Crowd-free harness racing
EMPTY: Crowd-free harness racing continued at Mowbray on Sunday night when participants adhered to strict protocols. The state's isolation may help all three codes keep going
Duncan Dornauf Photo

Harness racing could continue in Tasmania, even if it shuts down in the rest of the country, according to one of the industry's key figures.

I think we can responsibly keep going because we are isolated.

Harness great Barrie Rattray

Barrie Rattray believes the state is in a unique position.

"I think we can responsibly keep going because we are isolated," Rattray said.

"It's a pity they let the cruise ship people in because, apart from that, the government and everyone involved as has done a pretty good job.

"So we might actually be able to keep racing even if the other (states) fall over."

Rattray was an inaugural inductee into the Tasmanian harness racing Hall Of Fame for his deeds as a trainer-driver and now heads the industry's peak participant body, the Breeders, Owners, Trainers and Reinspersons Association.

He was at Mowbray on Sunday night for the state's second harness meeting since the spectator lockout and was satisfied with the outcome.

"I was in the drivers' room and everyone was following the protocols, using hand sanitizers and keeping their distance a bit," he said.

Meanwhile, Harness Racing Victoria will move to smaller fields at smaller race meetings from Thursday.

Meetings will be restricted to eight races with no more than eight horses per field.

HRV chief executive Dayle Brown said the idea was to "limit the number of people in one place to protect the health and well-being of our people and keep our industry viable."

Giftofjoy, driven by Rohan Hillier, wins at Mowbray on Sunday night.

 Giftofjoy, driven by Rohan Hillier, wins at Mowbray on Sunday night.

Quick Changeover (Taylor Ford) was Ben Yole's 800th career winner.

Quick Changeover (Taylor Ford) was Ben Yole's 800th career winner.


Thoroughbred racing in Victoria is to continue until further notice.

In announcing the decision on Monday afternoon, Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson stressed that the industry was in a different situation to the AFL.

"Racing is a non-contact sport where horse handling requires social distancing," Thompson said.

"The industry has demonstrated previously, through the equine influenza outbreak of 2007, that it can successfully implement quarantine measures.

"These are unprecedented times and we have rightly taken unprecedented actions over the past fortnight ... to ensure that we provide the safest environment possible for the continuation of Victorian racing."

Victoria has cancelled all official barrier trials and ruled that only locally-trained horses can run in jump-outs at each track.

Racing NSW announced on Monday that it also would continue racing "under strict bio-security risk management protocols in accordance with government and health authority advice."

However all three codes of racing in New Zealand will be shut down for at least the next 28 days.


Tasracing has changed the way greyhounds will be placed in the starting boxes to meet social distancing requirements.

Effective immediately, dogs will be loaded in four separate groups - boxes 1 and 5, then boxes 3 and 7, boxes 2 and 6 and boxes 4 and 8.

This will keep handlers further apart.

It will also mean that some dogs will be in the boxes for longer than under the previous system when they were loaded in two groups (odds then evens).

In NSW, greyhound racing will close 70 per cent of its tracks and race at only 10 selected venues. The state will be divided into seven zones and, to reduce travelling, participants can only race in their home zone.


Owners may soon have to get used to seeing their horses racing in different colours.

It's been suggested that rather than jockeys and harness drivers wearing the owners or trainer's silks, they each be allocated their own set of colours which they would wear in all races.

Racecallers are professionals and would soon adjust and even punters would get used to it eventually.

By Greg Mansfield

Reprinted with permission of The Examiner

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