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Racing Victoria (RV) and Country Racing Victoria (CRV) have today announced the resumption of limited owner attendance at regional race meetings under COVID-safe protocols from Monday, 12 October 2020.

Owners who reside outside metropolitan Melbourne will be given the opportunity to attend race meetings in regional Victoria when their horse is engaged to compete.

Owner attendance at regional race meetings, commencing with next Monday’s Echuca meeting, 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 COVID Safe Plan;
  • 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 regional racecourses can open to service owners that are permitted to attend, consistent with the restrictions on hospitality venues in regional Victoria;
  • Up to 10 owners permitted in an indoor dining space at a racecourse provided they are seated in accordance with Government hospitality guidelines. A maximum of two indoor dining spaces will be permitted per race meeting;
  • Up to 50 owners will be permitted in outdoor dining spaces at a racecourse provided they are seated in accordance with Government hospitality guidelines;
  • In outdoor areas not operating as a seated dining space at a racecourse, up to 10 owners can gather in a group provided they remain separate from other groups and adhere to social distancing; and
  • The strict segregation of owners from racing participants, meaning that owner access to racing operations areas, including the mounting yard and stabling area, is prohibited and no crossover will be permitted between the two halves of the racecourse.

In making today’s announcement, RV and CRV note that some regional Clubs may not be in a position to satisfy the necessary biosecurity protocols and thus the resumption of owner attendance may not be initially possible at some regional tracks.

RV has also confirmed that the prohibition on owners who reside in metropolitan Melbourne attending any race meeting in Victoria remains in place until otherwise advised.

All owners remain prohibited from attending race meetings at the following tracks within metropolitan Melbourne until otherwise advised - Flemington, Caulfield, Sandown, The Valley, Werribee, Yarra Valley, Mornington, Cranbourne and Pakenham.

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.

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 reduction in COVID-19 cases and the easing of social restrictions in regional Victoria, we are delighted to announce a framework with the support of the Victorian Government that allows us to welcome regional owners back to regional race meetings from next week.

“Those owners permitted to attend regional race meetings will again see a different experience to the one they are accustomed to. Access to racing areas, including the stables and mounting yard, will be prohibited; owners will need to pre-register to secure a spot; and numbers will be limited in accordance with the Stay Safe Directions for regional Victoria.

“It is important to note that there will also be some differences from one regional meeting to another due to each Club’s facilities and COVID Safe Plan. That may mean there are some regional Clubs who are unable to welcome owners back in the immediate future. This will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and communicated to owners via their acceptance email and the Club’s website.

“In terms of potentially broadening attendance at regional race meetings to include spectators, we note that the Government has stated it is assessing events in regional Victoria on a case-by-case basis. Together with CRV we are liaising closely with Government on future opportunities.

“We are also continuing to work closely with the Victorian Government on what opportunities may be possible for the return of owners to race meetings in metropolitan Melbourne.

“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 regional race meetings.”

CRV Chief Executive, Scott Whiteman, said: “This is terrific news for country racing and the many racehorse owners located throughout the regional areas of Victoria. Our Country Clubs look forward to welcoming owners back to their race days from next week and beginning the journey towards welcoming more people back to enjoy a day at the races in the future.”

Commencing with Monday’s Echuca meeting, owners will receive information on how to register and book dining via their acceptance email from RV on the day the fields are released and via the host Club’s website.