For the first time in 60 years, the Clare Easter races have been cancelled following a decision by the board of Thoroughbred Racing SA (TRSA) in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The decision was made last week, stepping up initial plans to scale back the event to a no-spectator event.
TRSA said the races were cancelled to provide the safest possible environment for racing participants and to try to ensure the industry’s ongoing financial viability during the current volatile environment.
Clare Valley Racing Club chairman Gerald Mullighan said the club was disappointed with the cancellation, but would be open to considering diversified events later in the year to recover some of the funds invested into getting the track ready for its biggest event of the year, the Easter races.
“Because of the outbreak of the Coronavirus, the Clare Easter Races were going to go ahead but ‘patron free’,” he said.
“The CVRC wanted to run the races on Easter Saturday for the benefit of horse owners, trainers etc and was disappointed when the Thoroughbred Racing SA Board abandoned the meeting altogether.
“Our club has spent around $8000 on the track since November to have it in perfect order.
“The Easter Races bring significant amounts of money into our community every year.
“Easter Saturday usually makes us enough money to pay our bills throughout the year and without this we, like everyone else, will have to tighten our belts.
“The Club hopes the Clare Valley community gets behind the Racing Club when we resume race days, hopefully in November for the Clare Cup.
“It would be great to see more locals come out (when events resume) to enjoy a day at the races and we encourage families to come and enjoy the picturesque venue.”
Other measures adopted by TRSA include:
Cancellation of all jumps races scheduled for April, including the Oakbank Easter Carnival; with some of its races transferred (Oakbank Easter Saturday flat races transferred to Morphettville; April 8 transferred to Murray Bridge).
The Easter Saturday meeting at Clare abandoned, and the Port Augusta meeting scheduled for Sunday, April 19 transferred to Gawler.
– All non-TAB race meetings have been abandoned until September affecting meetings scheduled at Hawker, Streaky Bay, Roxby Downs and Quorn.
In addition, TRSA has announced a reduction in prizemoney levels from April 1 – June 30, 2020.
CEO Nick Redin said TRSA was considering “every available option” to keep the industry viable and racing.
“It is vital we use every tool at our disposal for the workplaces, 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 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.”