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Update to Victorian protocols around field limits, arrival times and jockey weights

Racing Victoria (RV) on Thursday advised of an update to the biosecurity protocols in place in Victoria to allow for the safe continuation of racing and training during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The protocols, which are developed in accordance with all current Government directives, guidelines and advice, serve to protect the health of industry staff, participants and the wider community; as well as minimise the risk of participants catching the virus which may in turn impact on the continuation of racing.

The protocols are continually reviewed based on risk analysis, industry compliance, participant feedback and the broader community landscape.
Following ongoing consultation with the Victorian Jockeys Association (VJA) and Australian Trainers Association (ATA), RV has announced that the following protocols will be updated:

Field Limits

From 1 July 2020, metropolitan field limits will return to pre-COVID levels and the country cap will be raised from 12 to 14 starters per race where possible and appropriate.

Field limits at country tracks will be assessed on a case-by-case basis around traditional safety limits, rail placements and stabling infrastructure.

The cap on a maximum of nine races per meeting remains in place statewide until otherwise advised.

Arrival Times on Course

From 1 July 2020, a horse’s required arrival time on course for metropolitan race meetings will revert from one hour prior to its race back to the traditional two hours prior to its race.

The additional time on-course will allow for pre-race testing and any veterinary inspections to be completed on horses earlier, thus increasing the window prior to their race.

Jockey Weights

A return of jockey weights to pre-COVID levels has been earmarked for the commencement of the new racing season on 1 August 2020 with the date subject to an ongoing review of the circumstances regarding COVID-19 within Victoria.

RV has confirmed that the 2kg increase in minimum weights for day meetings and 1kg increase for night meetings introduced on 24 March 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions will be removed.

Minimum weights will return to pre-COVID levels of 54kg for day/twilight meetings and 55kg for night meetings. The minimum topweight will also return to the pre-COVID level of 60kg.

Racing Victoria (RV) Chief Executive, Giles Thompson, said: “We are continually reviewing the protocols in place for the safe continuation of Victorian racing and today’s amended protocols emanate from that process.

“Restrictions on field limits and on course arrival times were introduced in March in order to reduce the number of attendees on raceday and better assist in managing social distancing requirements.

“Following a review of participants’ protocol compliance and raceday processes we are satisfied that we can increase the field limits at most tracks, as well the time spent on course at metropolitan meetings by essential stable staff, without compromising the safe continuation of Victorian racing.

“Victoria remains the only state with COVID-related increases to its minimum weights in place. Following consultation with the VJA and ATA, it is clear that there is not a definitive push from all stakeholders to maintain the increases in perpetuity.

“To that end, we have determined that minimum weights for jockeys at all meetings will be returned to pre-COVID levels next racing season which will allow riders plenty of time to adjust. At this time, we are targeting 1 August 2020, however we will continue to review it based on the circumstances within the Victorian community.

“This planned change to minimum jockey weights reflects the increased opportunities for members of the Green Team to participate in regular trackwork and jump-outs which assists in their weight management.”
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