Green light for spectators to return to races

SPECTATORS can return to horse racing meetings across Victoria.

Racing Victoria and Country Racing Victoria on Friday announced the resumption of spectator attendance, under COVID-safe protocols, the following day.

Under the state government’s COVID-19 public events framework, racing clubs can welcome limited spectators to attend where they have an approved COVID-safe event plan or have completed and registered an event checklist depending on the number of attendees and the event’s risk profile.

Saturday’s meeting at Yarra Glen and Sunday’s at Warrnambool were each allowed 500 spectators.

Spectators are allocated a specific seat and will be unable to move around the racecourse, unless there is a specific reason, such as buying food.

Clubs will also enact their COVID-safe plans to ensure hygiene and physical distancing arrangements are in place and records are kept to enable contact tracing.

Attendees should carry face masks with them at all times for indoor use and where they are unable to meet safe distancing requirements outdoors.

Racecourses will continue to separate spectators and racing participants in the immediate future.

RV chief executive Giles Thompson was delighted to be able to welcome spectators to tracks for the first time since March.

“Everyone in Victorian racing has worked incredibly hard to safely continue racing and training throughout the pandemic and has helped protect the equivalent of 25,000 full-time jobs across Victoria,” he said.

“The return of spectators is further reward for their efforts.

“In the initial period it will be a different experience for those spectators who attend a race meeting with some restrictions on their movements, but it is important for the community and our sport that we make these initial steps in a safe and responsible manner.”

CRV chief executive Scott Whiteman said at the end of a tough year for clubs, the resumption of spectator attendance was important entering summer, when many community race meetings are scheduled.

“The opportunity to have up to 500 spectators at a race meeting is a welcome first step and we hope to be able to build upon that number in the weeks and months ahead should Victoria remain on top of the virus,” he said.

Clubs who apply and are approved for spectators to attend their meeting will publicise the details of this on their websites and communicate directly to their members.

The next meeting at the Sale Turf Club will be the Christmas race day on Sunday, December 20.

TUGGA War has claimed back-to-back wins for Bundalaguah horse trainer Sharyn Trolove.

Having won at Bairnsdale nine days earlier, the five-year-old mare took out the 1600 metre benchmark 64 handicap at Pakenham on Friday night.

Ridden by Craig Newitt, Tugga War went to the lead out of the gate and wasn’t challenged in the home straight, winning by three lengths.

CRANBOURNE-BASED former jumps jockey Gavin Bedggood trained his first country cup winner on Sunday, when No Effort took out the $70,000 Traralgon Cup (1900m).

The six-year-old mare beat favourite Lord Bouzeron by a long neck, with Nudge Bar a further half-head back in third. A post-race protest lodged by the connections of Nudge Bar for interference during the concluding stages was upheld, promoting the Moe galloper to second and relegating Lord Bouzeron to third.

Earlier, Dixieland, trained in Sale by Troy and John Kilgower, finished second in the four years-plus maiden plate, finishing four lengths behind Beautrooper, trained at Pakenham by Joseph Waldron.