New Zealand working towards racing return

New Zealand racing’s governing body is making plans to get the sport back up and running in the second half of the year.

Racing in New Zealand was shut down last month in line with government protocols surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

NZ Thoroughbred Racing has been working on a schedule for racing to begin on July 1 with restrictions.

“We are targeting a return to racing on 1 July at a reduced network of venues,” an NZTR statement said.

“We will need to be flexible as each region comes out of lockdown and with the possibility that alert levels might fluctuate.

“An indicative four-month calendar has been developed and the key components are as follows:

  • If training is able to resume in May, we anticipate trialling in late June with race dates from 1 July
  • Building from a single meeting per week in each region in July
  • A focus on racing near the horse population in early months and building to wider venue use by late Spring
  • Incentives being explored to get horses to the races rather than multiple trials
  • The removal of nomination and acceptance fees during the initial period
  • A program that needs to be flexible, with races over shorter distances initially
  • No reduction to the minimum stake but a flatter stake model across the board initially to ensure wider distribution of funds to owners

NZTR said a team from the National Racing Bureau would be contacting trainers over the coming weeks.

In addition NZTR has reduced payroll and contractor costs by 20 per cent since the shutdown including the salaries of board members by 100 per cent and the chief executive by 25 per cent.

NZTR says the priority is to resume as soon as possible to maintain employment within the sport and to distribute funds for participants and maintain equine welfare.

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