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Chris Waller hopes racing can continue under the biosecurity measures employed on Golden Slipper day

Premier Sydney trainer Chris Waller hopes racing can continue under the biosecurity measures employed on Golden Slipper day.

Saturday’s meeting at Rosehill featured five Group One wins but no spectators because of the coronavirus pandemic protocols.

In an effort to keep the sport afloat, only essential personnel could enter the track.

The Australian Turf Club would normally expect upwards of 20,000 on Slipper day.

While everyone kept their distance, jockeys were separated to the greatest degree with the visiting Victorians barred from using commercial flights or public vehicles.

A day later, federal and state governments announced an upcoming crackdown on non-essential services but it is not clear where racing fits.

The industry employs thousands of people, many on the minimum wage, and those people are responsible for the care and wellbeing of the horses with welfare paramount.

Racing has already experienced a lockdown situation in the spring of 2007 when racing was ceased in NSW and Queensland because of equine influenza and went ahead in Victoria under strict conditions.

Unlike EI, coronavirus cannot be transmitted to horses and it is hoped the lessons learned from that experience can help the sport cope.

Waller runs Sydney’s biggest stable and has already introduced temperature and health checks for his staff.

Racing has continued in Hong Kong and Japan throughout the crisis in Asia with the public locked out.

“There’s lot of ways of looking at it. I think continuing on racing and racing sensibly, is brilliant,” Waller said.

“We put on a good show for people watching from outside here and we were very responsible.

“People were there with the sole reason of making sure racing ran and didn’t take any silly risks.

“It’s not going to be easy to suggest we can continue to maintain it at the levels they suggest and I’m sure we can even tighten up more.”

On Sunday the AFL announced the game was on hold for two months while the NRL was still hanging on to hope the competition could keep going.

Racing’s contribution to the economy is immense and the sport is labour intensive and one of the country’s biggest employers.

“It would be terrible for the racing economy,” Waller said.

“The next six weeks, there’s not going to be a lot happening. I’m not saying racing should be the only thing that should keep going on but if we can socially show we’re being responsible, we might be fine.”

 
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