RACE TO THE FINISH: Abb Roy (orange and black silks) ridden by Emma MacPherson at the St Mary's Race Day on Saturday (Photography: Bubbles Barbierato Photography).
RACE TO THE FINISH: Abb Roy (orange and black silks) ridden by Emma MacPherson at the St Mary's Race Day on Saturday (Photography: Bubbles Barbierato Photography).

Racing brings new look to keep industry alive

HORSE RACING: It was a different scene when the horses took to the tack at Allman Park on Saturday.

Guided by the restrictions handed out by Racing Queensland, the seven-race meeting was limited to essential personnel – with no owners or punters allowed trackside.

In a bid to keep the racing industry alive amid the threat of coronavirus, Warwick based trainer Naomi Hemmings said she was grateful for the measures Racing Queensland were taking.

“Any jobs that can be safely carried out are kind of important; it’s just one of the ones we’re trying to keep going,” she said.

“It was more like morning track work, where everyone is doing their own thing.

“We were all mindful of staying away from each other.”

Trainer of Abb Roy – a horse which took out a race at $101 – $1 odds – Hemmings said the six-year-old mare looked good on the track.

“She was favourite for the race, so getting second wasn’t too surprising,” she said.

“She’s pulled up really well; she was pretty excited to be there.

“She just tried her hardest.”

At the conclusion of Saturday’s meeting Racing Queensland announced they would implement designated racing regions to ensure the safety of trainers and jockeys.

WARMING UP: Warwick trainer Naomi Hemmings with Veena before Saturday's St Mary's Race Day at Warwick Turf Club (Photography: Bubbles Barbierato Photography)
WARMING UP: Warwick trainer Naomi Hemmings with Veena before Saturday's St Mary's Race Day at Warwick Turf Club (Photography: Bubbles Barbierato Photography)

Hemmings believes the move is essential to ensuring the longevity of the industry.

“It’s just a way so that it can restrict things even more, so people are only in their own little area,” she said.

“That way if there’s a hint of anything, one zone can be shut down completely.

“It’s sort of a work in progress at the moment for the new calendar too.”

As Racing Queensland work to ensure safe hygiene habits, the Warwick Turf Club took measures of their own.

Hand sanitiser was readily available to trainers and jockeys, and all those in attendance were temperature checked before entering the premises.

While the atmosphere trackside was less noisy than usual, Hemmings was appreciative of the close-knit racing community here in Warwick.

“It didn’t really feel different for me personally because I’m not relying on crowds or other people,” she said.

“It’s just down to the basics of horse racing.

“We’re like everyone else, just trying to hang in there until this is all over.

“But it felt safe to me and just felt nice – when it all goes over, we want people to go to the races again.”