There’s an old saying that a week in politics is a long time. It’s fair to say that the past week has been one of, if not the, longest weeks in the history of this Country. So much has happened since last weekend it is almost impossible to comprehend. While it wouldn’t be considered of overwhelming national importance, the goal posts in the field of harness racing seemed to have been changing on a daily basis, which is presumably important to anyone reading this.
The team at HRNZ have been working from home, in an effort to help the industry understand what we can and can’t do under COVID-19 Alert Level 4. This has involved a number of conversations with the Ministry of Primary Industries who, to be fair to them, have been dealing with multiple sectors, all seeking the best possible outcome for themselves during the lockdown.
The initial understanding of what allowing horse racing to be declared an essential industry, for animal welfare reasons, changed somewhat during the week. There was some concern that ALL horses should be turned out for the duration of the lockdown. Fortunately, this was able to be clarified with MPI, which means trainers could do breaking in and light work on their properties, as long as they complied with the original conditions set out by the Ministry. The most important thing to remember is that you cannot have anyone coming to your property to care, feed or exercise horses unless you have registered with MPI. Don’t forget to check out details of what you and your staff are entitled to in terms of the Government’s wage subsidy – details are on the HRNZ website.
It has been a harrowing time for the whole Country and there’s still three and a half weeks to go, but at least racing has been given a small window of opportunity to continue operating in some form, thanks to the combined efforts of HRNZ and Trainers & Drivers Assn. We have been kept informed of developments throughout, and had the opportunity to feed into the process.