Country race meets cancelled in wake of Covid-19 pandemic

2019 Carrapateena Oz Minerals Quorn Cup.
2019 Carrapateena Oz Minerals Quorn Cup.

Port Augusta Racing Club's first meet of the season has been transferred to Gawler following increasing Covid-19 restrictions.

The South Australian racing industry has introduced further measures to ensure financial viability during the global pandemic.

All non-TAB race meetings have been abandoned until September 1, affecting meetings scheduled at Hawker, Quorn and Roxby Downs.

Quorn Jockey Club President Cleyton Finlay said losing the Quorn Cup, due to run in August, would be a big blow for the community but the club has faced bigger obstacles in the past.

The popular event is cancelled for now, but could be rescheduled after September.

"We've had hurdles before. They made us resurface the track because they said it was a little bit dangerous so we got all that done and we were back racing the next year," he said.

"Obviously it will affect the town a lot because it's the biggest event for the town, so you won't get people booking accommodation or coming to cafes and that sort if stuff.

The Quorn Jockey Club spent $20,000 in upgrades to the Quorn Racecourse to see the return of the Quorn Cup in 2017 after a two-year hiatus.

"If there's a year off it won't affect it because they always come back. You always get your racing people from all fraternities and all towns that will always come to country meets," Mr Finlay said.

"Whether it's later this year or August next year, it's not going to matter because they will always come back, they love their country race meets."

Oakbank Easter Carnival and Clare Saturday meetings have been abandoned or transferred to Morphetville for enhanced protocol controls.

There has also been a 15 per cent reduction in overall prize money from April 1 to June 30.

Thoroughbred Racing South Australia (TRSA) CEO Nick Redinsaid TRSA was considering "every available option" to keep the industry viable and racing.

"It is vital that we use every tool at our disposal for the work places, the race tracks, training venues, stables and farms of the 800 small business and independent contractors that make up racing and provide full and part time employment to more than 4800 people across the State," he said.

"Our aim is to keep racing going, just as it has been able to in Hong Kong and Japan during this pandemic. It is vitally important that we keep going to ensure there is not a significant equine welfare issue that will arise should all thoroughbred horse activities be stopped.

"The mental health, wellbeing and welfare of our human and equine participants must be protected, and we will keep working hard to ensure this remains a focus.

"The prize money reductions are necessary to try to ensure the industry's ongoing viability. We've discussed this measure with some of our leading trainers, and they understand that we have to do whatever is necessary to get through this."

TRSA has already limited attendance at all thoroughbred activities to essential racing personnel only and has written to industry stakeholders to urge them to abide by the restrictions.

"I know this is frustrating for people who are passionate about the racing industry but, if they truly love it, they will stay away," Mr Redin said.

"It is absolutely critical that we continue to work as one to get through this crisis."