Victorian Fan lockout but but Racing NSW will allow Saturday’s meetings to go ahead as normal
Victorian officials have enforced a fan lockout on Saturday’s rich All-Star Mile day at Caulfield and Friday night’s Moonee Valley meeting – but Racing NSW will allow Saturday’s Group I Coolmore Classic meeting to proceed as normal after the latest coronavirus advice.
The latest coronavirus advice from Prime Minister Scott Morrison – who has warned against gatherings of over 500 people, but only from next Monday – has allowed the Coolmore meeting at Rosehill to go ahead with spectators allowed.
“Racing NSW refers to the advice received from the Commonwealth and NSW Governments that they are moving towards restricting public gatherings of over 500 people from Monday, 16 March 2020 but that there are no restrictions in respect of such gatherings over the weekend,” a Racing NSW statement said.
“Consistent with that advice, thoroughbred race meetings in New South Wales on Saturday, 14 March 2020 and Sunday, 15 March 2020 will remain open to the public.”
However Victoria has taken a vastly different approach with All-Star Mile day to proceed, but without spectators.
“The Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) is taking considered action to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of members, patrons, participants and staff for The All-Star Mile Race Day,” a statement said.
“Our position has always been that we will follow advice from the relevant state and federal government agencies in relation to Coronavirus (covid-19).
“We have now been advised non-essential mass gatherings attended by more than 500 people should not proceed from Monday.
“In the interest of patron safety, in consultation with Racing Victoria, the MRC has taken the decision to take extra precaution and proceed with The All-Star Mile Race Day without spectators. Only persons essential to the operations of the race meeting will be admitted into the racecourse.
“As a result of this decision, Racing Victoria’s Raceday Wild Card Competition to select the Owner Ambassador to represent Black Heart Bart will not go ahead.
“Instead, the applicable prizemoney attributable to the Owner Ambassador for Black Heart Bart shall be donated to the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal, the official charity partner of The All-Star Mile. All other previously announced Owner Ambassadors for the remaining 14 horses will remain eligible for the 2020 All-Star Mile Fan Competition prize pool.
“General admission pre-purchased ticket holders will receive a full refund. Hospitality clients will be offered credit or refund.”
Fans were also banned from Friday night’s Alister Clark Stakes meeting at Moonee Valley.
“The Moonee Valley Racing Club, in consultation with Racing Victoria and following the Government announcement advising the imminent imposition of restrictions on the number of attendees at mass gatherings, have taken the decision to proceed with tonight’s race meeting with only racing participants and industry officials on course,” a club statement said.
“Whilst this restriction does not take effect until Monday, the decision to proceed without members, owners and racegoers attending tonight’s race meeting has been taken in light of the increased concern over the transmission of COVID-19. The health and well-being of the broader community need to be our priority at this point in time.
“It appears that this restriction will remain in place for next Friday’s Group 1 William Reid Stakes meeting. If this meeting is to proceed, the same restrictions on entry will be in place. Further updates will be provided next week.”
It appeared earlier in the day that fans would be locked out of Saturday meetings – including the All-Star Mile day at Caulfield – but the Monday deadline changed things in NSW, Queensland and South Australia.
Racing clubs were clinging to hope on Friday morning that race meetings would be able to proceed as planned – despite this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne being officially cancelled because of the coronavirus crisis.
But it was always a situation that could change rapidly.
A crowd of around 12,000 was forecast for the $5m All-Star Mile day at Caulfield on Saturday but now not even owners – many of whom have played a key role in the All-Star Mile promotion – will be permitted on course.
It is understood Queensland’s metropolitan meeting on the Gold Coast will go ahead on Saturday as will the South Australian meeting.
But all race meetings, as of next Monday, will surely be run with no fans allowed.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Friday morning firstly confirmed fans would be barred from entering the Albert Park motor-racing track because of the coronavirus crisis surrounding the Australian Grand Prix.
“On public health grounds, there will be no spectators at the Grand Prix, if the event happens at all,” Mr Andrews said.
The Grand Prix was later called off entirely.
Cricket has banned spectators from upcoming Australian ODI games and, with the latest government advice, it appears likely the football codes will soon be played without spectators.
Racing stables could be significantly affected by Carona virus. Stable staff cannot work from home. We are going to need to invoke some risk mitigation procedures. It won’t stop disruption but we need to slow it down if we can IMO.