Authorities in New Zealand have put forth a blueprint in a bid to return to training and racing once phase four of the island nation’s coronavirus lockdown is lifted.
The proposal outlines thoroughbred racing at selected venues from July.
“We acknowledge that the situation in the national fight against COVID-19 is changing rapidly, and accordingly final decisions about the program of racing for August-November will be made by early July,” NZ Thoroughbred Racing said.
“We are targeting a return to racing from July 1 as long as we can do this safely and in accordance with the strict government and public health obligations.”
While NZTR is yet to confirm funding or prize money, there was importance placed on setting dates for horses to step up their training preparation.
Counties, Waikato, Manawatu and Wanganui on the North Island and Canterbury and Southland on the South Island have been highlighted as key racetracks whose proximity to major training populations as well as boasting the facilities for track personnel and broadcast would be key for a return.
The number of meetings and venues would gradually build up as the calendar progresses to reflect the beginning of the New Zealand racing season on August 1.
“These are incredibly challenging times and we must focus on what is best for thoroughbred racing and what will get the most horses back racing as quickly as possible,” NZTR said.
“In working up the proposed calendar 55 trainers have been contacted, and then deeper discussions have been held with trainer representatives, the Pattern and Jumps Committees, club administrators, and NZTR personnel.
“All those who worked on the calendar have had to step away from tradition, consider the future of the industry, and structure a calendar to fit this new environment.
“It’s a complex piece of work to deliver a cohesive spring calendar which will allow trainers and owners to plan campaigns for their horses.”