AGAINST THE ODDS

VRC FLEMINGTON (@flemingtonvrc

27 May 2020


At the end of April, the Victorian racing industry proudly recognised that more than 500 races had been run, even in these unprecedented times. As the only live sport still continuing, keeping the racing industry alive is not only crucial to those whose livelihoods depend on it, but also provides a beacon for racing fans and ensures the horses continue to receive their crucial daily care and exercise.

If it wasn’t for the swift decision-making by Racing Australia, Racing Victoria and Clubs, the industry may not be where it is today, and could have suffered the fate of all other live sport that has been suspended until further notice.

Some of the successful measures taken have included the following:

  • Closing the gates of all Victorian race meetings to spectators in accordance with the government’s guidelines on gatherings, reducing the risk of spread. Only key race-day personnel are allowed on course who are imperative to the running of the race, as well as smaller broadcast teams.
  • As everyone was instructed by the government to work from home if they could, the VRC and Racing Victoria implemented this policy across their businesses. 
  • Of course, working from home is not possible in the sport of racing where hands-on practices are required, so strict protocols were introduced in stables and at the racecourses.

PRECAUTIONS TAKEN IN THE FLEMINGTON TRAINING PRECINCT

  • The Flemington training precinct has been shut down since March 18.
  • Security personnel at entrance points conduct temperature checks before anyone is permitted entry.
  • Flemington-specific passes were issued for all quarantine entry to ensure only authorised persons can enter the Flemington training precinct.
  • Hand sanitiser is available across the entire site.
  • Social distancing measures have been taken to split staff into two teams. This means that if someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, work can continue to maintain the training and racing surfaces, along with the Flemington gardens.

FLEMINGTON JUMP OUTS AND JOCKEY SEGREGATION OVERVIEW 

  • Victorian jockeys were separated into two groups – Green group and Gold group. This is in to ensure that if a jockey from one group is diagnosed and that group has to isolate, the other group can continue riding, therefore ensuring racing can go on.
  • If there are members of each of the Green and Gold groups riding at the race meeting, Clubs must provide enough rooms and ensure that, for each jockeys’ room, the number of jockeys from each group allocated to that room adheres to social distancing rules.
  • Car parks, entrances and the changeover are clearly signed to define team spaces.
  • A ‘Green Team Assistant’ is available to leg on all jockeys ensuring no stable staff contact.
  • Jockeys enter and exit the course and jump heats via designated gates.
  • Hand sanitisers and buckets with bottled water are available at each changeover for jockeys.

PRECAUTIONS TAKEN BY FLEMINGTON TRAINERS

As well as the main guidelines outlined for Flemington, trainers have gone above and beyond in their mission to ensure there are no cases of COVID-19 in the industry. Some of the measures they have taken include:

  • Providing separate tack for each rider
  • Separating stable staff into two teams who don’t come into contact with each other 
  • Temperature checking staff in their own stables
  • Spraying antibacterial product over every door handle in the stable, as well as every head collar and bridle for the horses.

As the climate changes daily with the COVID-19 pandemic, the VRC and racing industry as a whole continues to face the unpredictability with intelligence, altering their protocols to align with this. Ensuring the safe continuation of the sport helps protect the jobs of more than 100,000 people who work in the industry in Victoria, which in turn protects the health and wellbeing of our equine athletes at the core of it all.

Against the odds | Flemington Insiders