They’re off and racing

Racing will resume at Racing.com Park today (Friday) from 4.15pm. 200049 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By sports editor Russell Bennett

Racing will resume today at Pakenham Racing Club’s Racing.com Park following confirmation that jockey Mark Zahra tested negative for Covid-19.

The scheduled Friday twilight race meeting at Racing.com Park will proceed as programmed under strict Covid-19 protocols that govern the conduct of racing, in accordance with the current directives, guidelines and advice handed down by the state government on the advice of the Chief Health Officer.

In a statement released by Racing Victoria yesterday, chief executive, Giles Thompson said: “We’re really pleased for Mark that his test has come back negative. This situation has placed undue pressure on Mark, through no fault of his own, and I want to again publicly thank and acknowledge the professional and responsible manner in which he has acted.

“Mark’s negative test paves the way for racing to resume in Victoria tomorrow (today, Friday) and for this we are extremely grateful. We are acutely aware of the incredible hardship that many Australians are facing as at this time through the loss of their jobs, which is why we are continuing to work so hard to protect the livelihoods of all those within Victorian racing who depend on it.”

Wade Calderwood from the Pakenham Racing Club also spoke ahead of the twilight race card at the club.

“The Pakenham Racing Club is strictly adhering to the protocols placed on our sport by Racing Victoria to ensure we can effectively deliver race meetings at Racing.com Park,” he said.

“Special conditions include the separation of jockeys into two teams, regular sanitising of all areas that are heavily-trafficked, and ensuring a minimum of one-and-a-half metres distance between all industry participants – such as jockeys, trainers, stable hands, and officials.

“We’re delighted that our members, sponsors, and local racing enthusiasts can view all the action from their home track from the comfort and safety of their homes.”

A standing order remains in place for all industry participants to remain at home if they are feeling unwell, are displaying symptoms of Covid-19, or have been in contact with a confirmed case.

Strict protocols currently in place throughout the Victorian racing industry include the banning of owners, members, the general public, non-broadcast media, and non-essential staff from attending all Victorian race meetings. Only the following people are permitted to attend, with all of them subjected to enhanced operating protocols, hygiene, and social distancing measures: licensed jockeys engaged to compete at the meeting; licensed trainers with runners engaged at the meeting; registered stable staff of trainers with runners engaged at the meeting with trainers asked to minimise the number of staff in attendance; essential race-day officials and staff; and the official broadcaster (Racing.com) and official photographer (Racing Photos).

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