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Racing Victoria (RV) has today announced the resumption of limited owner attendance at all Victorian race meetings under COVID-safe protocols from Saturday, 14 November 2020.

The change comes following the relaxation of intrastate travel restrictions and in consideration of the significant reduction of COVID-19 cases across the state.

Commencing this weekend, a capped number of owners will be given the opportunity to attend race meetings across Victoria when their horse is engaged to compete, irrespective of where they live within the state.

Currently, owner attendance is only permitted at regional race meetings, provided that the competing owner resides outside metropolitan Melbourne.

Owner attendance at Victorian race meetings, including the resumption at nine tracks in the metropolitan Melbourne region, will be underpinned by the following essential protocols:

  • Permitted arrival times will be managed on a track-by-track basis subject to each Club’s facilities and their COVIDSafe Plan;
  • Those with a role in running the business may attend including for ownership, sponsorship or governance purposes (not as spectators). Once duties are complete (i.e. inspecting the owned horse after the race or following the trophy presentation for sponsors) they should leave the racecourse;
  • A maximum of 30 owners per race with pre-registration required and compulsory provision of details on and/or before the day to enable contact tracing. In satisfying other protocols, Clubs may not be able to welcome the maximum number of owners for each race;
  • Restaurants at racecourses can open to service owners that are permitted to attend, consistent with the restrictions on hospitality venues in Victoria; and
  • The strict protocols requiring the segregation of owners from racing participants, meaning that restrictions on owner access to racing operations areas, including the mounting yard and stabling area, will continue to be enforced and no crossover will be permitted between the two sections of the racecourse.

Owners with horses engaged at this weekend’s race meetings at Sandown (Saturday), Dunkeld (Saturday), Geelong (Sunday) and Donald (Sunday) will receive direct communications this evening on how to register their desire to attend.

Beyond that, owners will receive information on how to register via their acceptance email from RV on the day the fields are released and via the host Club’s website.

RV notes that some Clubs may not be in a position to satisfy the necessary biosecurity protocols and thus owner attendance may not be offered at every race meeting, particularly in the initial period. Owners are encouraged to clarify with the host Club via its website.

Furthermore, RV reaffirmed that all owners, regardless of where they reside, remain prohibited from attending Licensed Premises (stables) and training centres at all times across the state until otherwise advised.

RV Chief Executive, Giles Thompson, said: “Owners are essential to our sport. They fund the training, care and welfare of our horses and have kept people in jobs right across Victoria with their ongoing commitment to racing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the easing of travel restrictions between regional and metropolitan Victoria and the significant reduction in COVID-19 cases, we are delighted to announce a framework, with the support of the Victorian Government, that allows us to welcome limited owners back to all race meetings from Saturday onwards.

“This is fantastic news for our owners whose understanding and support this year, particularly throughout the Spring Racing Carnival, has been tremendous. Owners love their horses and I know they’ve dearly missed the opportunity to see them race in person.

“Owners returning to the track should understand that this is step one and that they will see a different experience to the one they were accustomed to, both broadly speaking and potentially from one Club to another due to their varying facilities and COVID Safe Plans.

“Owner access to racing participant areas, including the stables and mounting yard, will continue to be prohibited; owners will need to pre-register to secure a spot; and numbers will be limited in line with the Government’s hospitality guidelines.

“Throughout the pandemic, our industry’s focus has been on the health of the community and ensuring the safe continuation of racing and training in Victoria and that remains our objective as we begin to welcome a limited number of owners back to our racetracks.”

In making today’s announcement, RV noted that discussions remain ongoing with the Victorian Government around future opportunities to broaden attendance at regional and metropolitan race meetings to include spectators when it is safe to do so, with the primary focus on feature events.