Two meetings called off

At least two race meetings in the South will be victims of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Today’s harness racing meeting at Winton, and tomorrow’s thoroughbred racing at Oamaru, have both been cancelled.

Otago Racing Club general manager Grant Gaskin said Oamaru could potentially have been rescheduled, pending a drop in alert levels, but the issue was the presence of the Ashburton meeting on Thursday.

‘‘Ashburton has a similar race card, so putting Oamaru off for a few days just doesn’t work for the horses,’’ Gaskin said.

‘‘We can’t do much about it. But it is a shame.

‘‘Oamaru has been pretty progressive with what they’ve been doing, and they had a terrific meeting a month ago.

‘‘This was the last of their three dates this winter. So they will just sort of have to plan ahead for next year.’’

Gaskin said trainers would still be hard at work caring for their horses.

‘‘At the forefront of their minds will be making sure the horses are looked after, and getting their exercise and being kept healthy.’’

Horses can be worked during Level 4 for animal welfare purposes if the trainer considers it it is necessary for the horse’s wellbeing.

The next gallops meeting in the South is at Wingatui on September 10.

‘‘We’ve got quite a big student event planned for that meeting, so we’re a bit nervous about that,’’ Gaskin said.

‘‘Last year was tough with Covid, and not knowing what was going to happen. We’re hoping to avoid that, and get back into the full swing of things.’’

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing chief executive Bernard Saundry said an additional race, an open 1200m, would be included at Ashburton to compensate for Oamaru being cancelled.

‘‘We will have the ability to divide a race or races if the numbers permit,” Saundry said.

NZTR has rejigged the northern calendar and scheduled 12 races for Cambridge and seven for New Plymouth on Saturday, and 10 races for Rotorua on Sunday, pending a drop in alert levels.

Harness Racing New Zealand cancelled Winton and Auckland meetings today.

It was hoping to push tomorrow’s meeting at Addington to Saturday, subject to alert levels dropping.

Winton is scheduled to have another harness meeting next Thursday.

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