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The first Melbourne stakes race of the season will go ahead with only essential staff and participants as Racing Victoria responds to a tougher government lockdown in the state.

The sport has been given the green light to continue despite the Victorian government’s move to put Melbourne under stage four restrictions in response to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.

Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson says they are grateful racing has been allowed to continue under strict biosecurity protocols.

However, RV has taken the immediate action of again banning owners from attending racetracks with only essential staff and participants allowed on course.

“As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to take decisive action to ensure that we provide the safest environment possible for those participating in Victorian racing, as well as the wider community,” Thompson said.

“With immediate effect, all owners are banned from attending race meetings in Victoria until otherwise advised, with a return to essential staff and active participants only.

“We have been continually reviewing our biosecurity protocols throughout the pandemic and this will be a key focus again over the coming days to determine what further enhancements can and should be made in light of the current circumstances within Victoria.”

RV on Tuesday stood down apprentice jockeys Michael Poy and Teodore Nugent, along with a stablehand for trainer Robert Hickmott, over possible COVID breaches.

The trio have been banned from attending racetracks and will front a stewards’ inquiry following medical assessments.

It comes on the eve of Melbourne’s first black-type race of the new season with 13 horses nominated for the Group Three Aurie’s Star Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.

Adelaide Guineas winner Game Keeper is in the mix for Tony and Calvin McEvoy, while former Hawkes Racing galloper Trope is set to make his debut for new trainer Julius Sandhu.

Godolphin has entered Home Of The Brave, who along with the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained pair of Hightail and Signore Fox, are dual nominated for the Missile Stakes (1200m) in Sydney.

 
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