Harness racing regionalised

The Riverina Paceway in Wagga will host all Riverina harness racing meetings until at least August 31: Photo: Cheryl Hancock

Temora Trotting Club race meetings moved to Wagga

Following in the footprints of Racing NSW and Greyhound Racing NSW, Harness Racing NSW has made the hard decision to separate the state into four regions and utilise only six major tracks in an attempt to continue racing during the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Wednesday April 1, race meetings will only be conducted out of Tabcorp Park Menangle and Penrith Paceway (Metropolitan), Riverina Paceway Wagga (Southern), Gold Crown Paceway Bathurst (Western), Newcastle International Paceway and Paceway Tamworth (Northern).

This regionalisation will continue until the end of the current racing season, which concludes on August 31, 2020 and during this time, all non-TAB meetings will be cancelled.

All TAB meetings outside of these six tracks will be moved to the respective track in their region, meaning Temora Trotting Club’s meetings set down for July 25 and August 22, will now be held at Wagga.

Temora harness racing trainer Ray Walker said it was the only decision that could be made after strict biosecurity rules were introduced by the governing body.

“I think it’s smart; they (Harness Racing NSW) need to have all the protocols in place to do the right thing and keep the industry going,” Walker said.

Walker further explained that the new Wagga track was the only facility in the region capable of hosting these meetings, whilst also keeping to strict social distancing rules.

“A lot of the smaller tracks like Temora don’t have the stables to separate the participants, but Wagga have the facilities and stables,” Walker said.

“They (Harness Racing NSW) had no other option and no other track in the region could handle this situation.”

The Temora trainer was confident this news would only benefit Riverina trainers, especially with out-of-region trainers not able to attend Southern meetings. 

“It’s a positive for us because the Hewitts and Days won’t be able to come. They have good horses and can be hard to beat,” Walker said.

“There is going to be more prize money spread around for Riverina trainers.”

Wagga Harness Racing Club CEO Graeme White was just pleased racing could continue in the region.

“I think the important thing is that racing continues,” White said.

“One of the main reasons they regionalised the industry was for it to continue racing and offer that income stream for so many owners, trainers and drivers.”

White acknowledged it may be hard for smaller clubs to accept racing would only continue in Wagga but backed Harness Racing NSW’s decision.

“A big reason why we were chosen is because we have so many stables inside and out where we can host trainers,” White said.

“We also aren’t on the showground, so we can control who is coming and going.”

The CEO also touched on the strict protocols in place to prevent the potential spread of Covid-19.

“We have to have security monitoring who is coming in and everything needs to be thoroughly cleaned down before and after racing,” White said.

“We also need to isolate trainers and there is no social gatherings, which is strictly adhered to.”

As racing continues and government regulations become stricter, participants will be expecting more changes.

For updates on Covid-19 enforced changes, participants can visit https://www.hrnsw.com.au/.

Harness Racing Covid-19 General Criteria

Participants (trainers, drivers and stablehands) will only be permitted to race in the region in which they are located.

The meetings will be serviced by regional specific stewards and approved HRNSW Club personnel.

Horse movements between regions will be accepted only with approval from the HRNSW integrity division.

Nominations for horses trained by Interstate licensees will not be accepted by HRNSW unless these horses are stabled in NSW prior to April 1.

Stablehands must continue to work within the region which they are located in prior to April 1 unless otherwise approved by the HRNSW Integrity Division.

Owners will not be permitted to attend training stables outside the region in which they reside for the purposes of strict biosecurity.

All licensees are to be cognizant of fraternisation with other licensees outside of the region in which they carry out their harness racing activities for strict biosecurity purposes.

The HRNSW integrity division will add to and amend the general criteria where necessary.