4:45pm: Any trials prior to race meetings will be suspended as Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) continues to restrict the number of people required at race meetings. 

HRV earlier today said from Thursday race meetings would be run as eight-race cards with no more than eight horses in any one race, allowing participants to maintain distance in stalls and limit the number of people required at the track.

HRV also announced trainers with a horse engaged could have only one stablehand attend the races, with the exception being trainers who have more than three horses engaged at a meeting. They can have two stablehands.

See below for earlier updates. 


2.04PM: Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has confirmed that from Wednesday night at Shepparton temperature checks will be conducted on all persons entering Victorian harness racing meetings. This includes participants and staff. 

HRV has also revealed that from Thursday race meetings will be programmed for eight races only with no more than eight horses in each race. These measures are to minimise the number of people required to congregate at one time in any one venue, allowing HRV to spread participants out throughout the horse stall area. Full details available here.


12.19PM: Smaller fields and less races, the potential of a Tabcorp Park Melton quarantine and care for horses in the event of a shutdown were all discussed when Harness Racing Victoria CEO Dayle Brown joined Gareth Hall on RSN 927 today.

Below is a transcript of their conversation.

GARETH HALL: Now what is the latest, I know you have been in meetings all morning regarding this situation.

DAYLE BROWN: The latest is Gareth we have been workshopping a number of radical ideas to try and keep racing for as long as we can. We are talking closely to our industry participants.

As I said on my roadshow when I started in the role, nothing’s off the table and that certainly can’t be further from the truth now – everything is on the table.

We are ensuring that our industry continues to go forward. As (GRV’s) Alan (Clayton) pointed out earlier, we are in uncertain times and we have to abide by Government policy, but also we have to take a leadership role and show that from a socialisation point of view that we are putting policies and procedures in place, which keeps our people healthy and well.

And we are looking to increase those procedures as we go forward, in relation to trying to keep our footprint on race day as small as possible. So from Wednesday, we will only be racing a maximum of eight races with eight horses per race.

So you are not spiking at a meeting with a number of races and entries, we are trying to smooth that out across the state so we spread the racing across the state and keep our footprint at meetings as small as we can.

That will help with our socialisation and keeping distance between people and complying with no more than 100 people in areas where there is cover and all those policies are in place to ensure people can continue to race in this start in harness racing.

GARETH HALL: So do you think Dale you can continue on with the meetings as scheduled or you might have to cut them back?

DAYLE BROWN: I think we can continue with the meetings as scheduled, we will just decrease our footprint at meetings.

That will help us to be able to compress the race day so our people are not exposed to a large number of people, of participants, on the day. We keep that footprint smaller and that will then minimise the risk to our people from a health and wellbeing point of view.

GARETH HALL: Harness Racing Victoria and Harness Racing New South Wales released a joint statement today, declaring no interstate horses can come and race in their state, so you can’t border hop and compete in Victoria any more?

DAYLE BROWN: Correct, in conjunction with New South Wales we will be advising our participants that they can not go over the border to compete.

We believe the proper and prudent thing to do is to keep our participants healthy and well and that’s to keep them in this state.

We will provide the racing for our participants in this state, and all the other states will do likewise. I think it’s important that we keep putting measures in place to keep our industry going as long as we can.

GARETH HALL: There was a tweet this morning from Adam Hamilton regarding maybe a lockdown at Tabcorp Park Melton. You’ve got stable facilities there obviously, you’ve got a motel where you can accommodate the participants. Is that a possibility down the track?

DAYLE BROWN: We are looking at every option at the moment Gareth. We are looking at ways that we continue to race and how do we even quarantine part of our industry.

We are looking at every possibility. Tabcorp Park, we know the infrastructure is there, it’s a set-up that’s made for something like that potential.

And we are looking at that and workshopping that at the moment. As I said earlier, nothing’s off the table. I’m going to be talking to industry leaders at 11’o’clock today to look at all the different options that are open to us so we can put procedures in place so that we continue to race and we continue to be at the front of this issue.

GARETH HALL: The welfare of horses if racing does stop, have you thought about that – the situation that HRV might find itself in there?

DAYLE BROWN: Yep, we will be talking to Government. If racing was to stop we’ve certainly got plans in place to ensure that people can continue to look after their horses. We will look at what compensation is available, what we can do from an industry point of view and also how we can access any government, at a federal and state level, funding options.

GARETH HALL: Your message to the industry participants in your sport?

DAYLE BROWN: I just want to reiterate the sentiments of Alan Clayton, these are really troubling times. Harness racing also is a very very tight family.

We are in this together. We have to be one in this. We have to observe all the processes that are put in place.

And I said very, very clearly over the weekend, if you are not well do not come to the race track. Get yourself checked, go to emergency, get a test, isolate yourself for the betterment of the industry.

This virus is so persuasive, if it gets into our industry then it puts it at threat. All the processes we are putting in place are to ensure that our industry remains viable (and) it continues to race.

11.45AM: Dayle Brown reveals raceday limits on RSN

HRV CEO Dayle Brown has revealed that from Thursday Victorian harness racing meetings will be limited to eight races per meeting with no more than eight horses per field.

“We must keep our footprint as small as we can and limit the number of people in one place to protect the health and wellbeing of our people and keep our industry viable during these unprecedented times,” Brown said.


10.15AM: Victorian Racing Minister Martin Pakula joins RSN 927

Racing will continue for the foreseeable future, Victorian Racing Minister Martin Pakula told RSN 927 this morning, but with COVID-19's spread the timeline of surety remained short.

"As we sit here today racing, and I believe this to be the case around the country, racing is continuing today," Mr Pakula said.

"I think it will certainly continue tomorrow, the premiers have indicated the National Cabinet won't meet again until tomorrow night.

"Today and tomorrow is still the green light, but as we've seen in many other parts of the economy, this thing is very changable. I think we enjoy it while we can."


9.45AM: HRV, HRNSW close borders to interstate visitors

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) and Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) have today announced strict new measures to protect harness racing populations from the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From today both HRV and HRNSW will not accept interstate nominations from any state and no interstate trainers or drivers are permitted to enter race meetings.

“The message to our people is simple – do not travel,” the joint HRV/HRNSW statement from CEOs Dayle Brown (HRV) and John Dumesny (HRNSW) said.

HRV and HRNSW will update the industry throughout the day as the situation continues to evolve. 


Industry participants are reminded they can access the Industry Assistance Program by clicking here.