Racing industry encouraged to provide feedback on draft racing calendar

21 April 2020

The Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) has today issued a revised DRAFT 19/20 racing calendar for consultation with the New Zealand racing industry.

The resumption of racing is subject to meeting appropriate COVID-19 Alert Level requirements.

The revised calendar proposes the initial resumption of greyhound racing on 11 May, harness racing on 29 May and thoroughbred racing beginning 3 July and includes a significant reduction in the number of racing venues from 36 to 12 in order to minimise travel and centralise racing as close as possible to the participants and animals. All meetings will be closed to the public.

The RITA Dates Committee, who determine the Annual Dates Calendar, have a legislative requirement to consult with each of the recognised industry organisations on the proposed dates, allocation, and conditions.

Dean McKenzie, Executive Chair of RITA said the draft calendar provided a starting point for a conversation within the racing industry on a schedule of race meetings that reflected the impact of COVID-19.

“The draft calendar reflects the industry’s commitment to ensure any resumption of racing includes  measures to restrict travel, minimise interactions and keep all participants safe. 

“RITA is actively working with a number of Government organisations to ensure the industry’s protocols and rules meet Alert Level 2 and 3 restrictions prior to the resumption of any racing. These discussions have benefited from the response prior to moving to Alert Level 4 and from Australia, where racing has continued under strict restrictions.

“We recognise that the draft calendar, which was developed with the racing codes, presents a very different pattern of racing for the last few months of the year than was originally proposed. But if we are to resume racing this season, we must give ourselves every chance of doing that safely and minimise the threat of COVID-19.”

The draft calendar covers the period 11 May to 31 July 2020 and consultation closes on 28 April, with a final calendar issued on 4 May.

Draft 19/20 Racing Calendar Proposed Amendments - Summary

Greyhound Racing

  • Return to racing as soon as practical with draft start in early May, subject to meeting relevant COVID-19 protocols
  • For the balance of the season, propose to run 9.25 meetings a week at six venues
  • Pre COVID-19 calendar had nine meetings a week at seven venues
  • Full meetings scheduled for Invercargill and Dunedin to be transferred to Christchurch to be closer to racing population and support intent to restrict travel
  • Three races to be scheduled for Southern trained dogs to enable dual meetings with Invercargill harness

Harness Racing

  • Aims to resume racing on 29 May, subject to meeting relevant COVID-19 protocols
  • Amended draft calendar has 37 meetings at four venues
  • Pre COVID-19 calendar had 36 meetings at 10 venues in the same period
  • Racing restricted to three regions (North, Canterbury, Southland) with travel of participants restricted to their regions

Thoroughbred Racing

  • Aim to resume racing on 3 July
  • Amended draft calendar has 13 meetings at six venues
  • Pre COVID-19 calendar had 20 meetings at 17 venues in the same period
  • Racing restricted to four regions (Northern, Central, Canterbury, Southland) with travel of participants restricted to their regions