RESTRICTIONS EASED: Queensland Racing has announced changes in COVID restrictions.
RESTRICTIONS EASED: Queensland Racing has announced changes in COVID restrictions.

‘You have to be hopeful’: Promising signs for iconic event

RACING: Restrictions that previously barred spectators from viewing the races have been eased this week, Racing Queensland announced.

As of June 4, 20 patrons are now permitted on the course to spectate, provided they follow COVIDSafe regulations.

But Stanthorpe Jockey Club president Neil Brunckhorst said only time would tell as to whether the annual Stanthorpe Race Day would go ahead.

“It’s still four months away – we don’t know what will be happening by October,” Brunckhorst said.

Brunckhorst said the announcement from Racing Queensland showed promising signs, but right now all he could do was “sit on (his) hands” and hope for the best.

“It is such a big social event. It’s not only important for the club but for the district too,” he said.

Stanthorpe Jockey Club president Neil Brunckhorst.
Stanthorpe Jockey Club president Neil Brunckhorst.

He said the bottom line was that if there were no crowds allowed the event would not go ahead.

“I would say unless it is all cleared up by October then we won’t be racing.”

He said Racing Queensland would have to give the club the green light no later than August if the race day was to happen.

“That will be the absolute latest we would need to know to get the event organised.

“They (Racing Queensland) don’t know what will be happening in October either, so it is just about waiting to see how everything plays out.

“You have to be hopeful – we are holding on to the fact that it is still four months away.

“Right now, we are planning on racing in October and we are looking forward to it just as much as the people who come to the event.”

Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the announcement highlighted the progress the industry, which was been operating under strict biosecurity measures since March, had made in recent months.

“The Queensland racing industry has done a phenomenal job of banding together during the COVID-19 crisis,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

RQ CEO Brendan Parnell echoed Mr Hinchcliffe’s sentiments, saying this was a reward for the diligence of the industry in adhering to restrictions over recent months.

“There is still a long way to go, however, this is a positive step for our three codes of racing,” he said.

A range of existing biosecurity measures remain in place including:

  • Mandatory temperature testing for all on-course personnel attending race meetings;
  • A 14-day self-isolation period for any licensee – Queensland or otherwise – who travels from interstate; and
  • Restrictions around training, trackwork and interstate animal transport protocols.