NEWS: NZTR background regarding Alert Level 3 travel

NZTR is aware of social media discussion regarding the processes which have allowed harness racing to continue in Auckland COVID Alert Level 3.

The Auckland region can support a harness meeting taking place because it has sufficient personnel (trainers/drivers/race day services) based within that bubble. The same does not apply within thoroughbred racing.

A simple example would be if the Waikato region were in Alert Level 3 and the remainder of the country at level 2 at the time the recent Legends meeting was held. The fact that most of our jockeys, barrier assistants and other race day personnel are based in the Waikato would allow the meeting to continue.

It is not the fact that Auckland is at Alert Level 3 which is preventing the Vodafone New Zealand Derby taking place at Ellerslie, rather the fact that the rest of the country is at Level 2 and there are therefore restrictions around inter-region travel.

Since the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday night NZTR has been in regular contact with the DIA, MPI and MBIE, in addition to briefing the Racing Minister. Our primary focus has been to secure the means to transport jockeys, barrier attendants and other race day personnel into Auckland to allow the Vodafone New Zealand Derby to go ahead at Ellerslie.

Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of NZTR and these government agencies we have been advised there is no way within the regulations to allow this to happen. We are aware that some within the harness code have obtained business travel documents for inter-region travel. The advice NZTR received from DIA stated that there was nothing within the latest order to allow travel of this nature to occur other than potentially the animal welfare provisions as the order is designed to restrict inter-region travel.

This is totally in keeping with the processes which were followed during Auckland’s previous lockdowns where Auckland-based trainers were able to send their horses via Float companies (who operated within strict protocols) to meetings outside their region. Once in that region the horses were in the care of other agreed license holders. These are the processes that NZTR would expect trainers to adhere to, should the alert levels not change, and the Vodafone New Zealand Derby meeting need to be held at Hastings on Sunday.

The irony is, that if the entire country were at Alert Level 3 then thanks to the protocols NZTR already has in place the Vodafone New Zealand Derby would be going ahead as planned at Ellerslie.

Issued by the Office of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing


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