New Zealand racing authorities have released a blueprint for a return to training and racing when the Alert 4 lockdown in place for the coronavirus pandemic is lifted.
The revised calendar proposes 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.”
NZTR said it could not yet confirm funding or prize money but said it was important to set dates so horses could get back to training.
The venues chosen for July are Counties, Waikato, Manawatu and Wanganui on the North Island and Canterbury and Southland on the South Island.
The tracks have been selected based on proximity to the horse population and commercially material cost savings at tracks with broadcast transmission by low cost fibre rather than expensive satellite uplink.
The number of meetings and venues used builds up as the calendar progresses into the new season beginning 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.”