Horse racing suspended in New Zealand after snap COVID lockdown

Horse Racing Bernard Saundry New Zealand
Bernard Saundry: NZTR chief executive is planning for a weekend resumption. Photo: Trish Dunell

By Nicholas Godfrey

New Zealand: Horse racing in New Zealand has been temporarily suspended owing to the new national COVID alert – but the nation’s authorities are planning to resume at the weekend.

On Tuesday evening, prime minister Jacinda Ardern put the country under a nationwide snap lockdown via COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions for a period of three days, with Auckland and the Coromandel region remaining at Level 4 for an additional four days.

The move came after New Zealand reported its first COVID case for six months with a man testing positive in Auckland; he had also recently visited the coastal town of Coromandel.

As a result, scheduled race meetings at Cambridge on Wednesday, Oamaru on Friday and Ruakaka on Saturday have been abandoned but New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) has put in a contingency plan for its resumption this weekend as the restrictions are eased.

Bernard Saundry talks to Andrew Bensley at NZ Racing Desk

“With racing able to recommence under Alert Level 3 restrictions, we are busy working with our participants, clubs, and sector groups to reschedule our racing,” NZTR chief executive Bernard Saundry said, speaking to NZ Racing News.

“We are planning at this point, assuming that by Friday afternoon that we come out of Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3, that we will hold race meetings at Cambridge and New Plymouth on Saturday, and at Rotorua on Sunday.”

Extra races will be carded at the weekend meetings. “We need to be agile and keep the participants informed as to the changing pace of what we can and can’t do,” added Saundry.

“It is a watch and see for us on a daily basis. We would all love to see us come out of this as quickly as possible, but we also have to be concerned about the health of the nation and making sure we can put racing back on the agenda as quickly as possible, and in a safe environment. We do want to race, but we will only do so when the government allows it.”

• Visit the NZ Racing News website

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