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Covid alert levels have dropped just in time for the start of the new thoroughbred racing season in the South.
It is not quite a perfect world, though.
Being at Alert Level 2 means there is no opportunity to get punters through the gates for racing at Wingatui today.
The Otago Racing Club was planning to start "a new and exciting season" off with a bang today but its meeting would now be a relatively quiet affair, general manager Grant Gaskin said.
"The virus means that the meeting will be raced behind closed doors for the safety of all.
"We will be looking after the trainers and essential staff on the day.
"We have had to postpone the student event, ‘Invades’, which was set to entertain 2000 people, a great way to have the younger generation at the races."
It is just a seven-race card for the first meeting of the southern season.
Riverton trainers Kelvin and Aimee Tyler have 10 horses running at Wingatui as they seek to follow up their marvellous 57-win season.
Michael and Matthew Pittman, who won the South Island premiership last season by a single win, are bringing six horses from Riccarton.
The next major Wingatui meeting is on October 21, leading into the traditional Melbourne Cup day on November 2.
Other highlights ahead include:
- Cromwell hosting Racing in the Vines on November 28.
- The Forbury Park Trotting Club will be at Wingatui on December 3 for its first dedicated day of harness racing at the track since the closure of the club’s South Dunedin venue in July.
- The Hazlett Stakes is the feature event at the Boxing Day family races at Wingatui.
- The Waikouaiti Racing Club holds its meeting at Wingatui on January 15.
- Champions Day on February 5 is the premier day on the Wingatui calendar with the White Robe weight-for-age, the Dunedin Guineas and the Dunedin Gold Cup.
- Breeders Day on March 5 finishes the premium race season with the New Zealand Bloodstock Insurance Stakes for 3yr-old fillies.
- There is a dual-code meeting on March 21 with Forbury Park TC and the Beaumont Racing Club running a shared event.