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Media Release: COVID-19 – SA Racing Industry Update

  • All South Australian thoroughbred racing activities to be limited to essential racing personnel only with no spectators
  • Decision affects all metropolitan, provincial and regional clubs with some meetings cancelled
  • 2020 Oakbank Easter Racing Carnival to be a no-spectator event, focus turns to Christmas Twilight meeting

All South Australian thoroughbred racing activities are to be no-spectator events for the foreseeable future after a decision by Thoroughbred Racing SA to limit attendance to essential racing personnel only.

This follows the Australian Government’s advice that all non-essential organised mass gatherings of more than 500 should be cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 situation.

The decision affects all race meetings, barrier trials and trackwork and comes into force with immediate effect. This will include the race meeting conducted at Gawler tomorrow. A list of approved essential racing personnel is included at the end of this release.  

CEO Nick Redin said TRSA was providing ongoing guidance and support to each of the State’s 25 racing clubs and their associated racing communities.

“This is an unprecedented move but, in order to protect the 3,600-plus jobs thoroughbred racing provides across the State, these are actions we feel necessary to take at this time,” he said.

“The restrictions will remain in place until further notice and TRSA will continue to monitor the situation in conjunction with the Racing Minister’s Office and Public Health Officials.

“Everything we are doing is in the best interests of the health of participants and we are committed to keeping people informed as much as possible during what is a very challenging time for everyone in racing.”

The 2020 Oakbank Easter Racing Carnival will go ahead under the restrictions. The carnival, which encompasses racing on Sunday 5th April, the new midweek raceday on Wednesday 8th April and the traditional feature raceday on Easter Saturday 11th April, will now be limited to essential racing personnel with no spectators permitted on any day.

Oakbank Racing Club Chair Arabella Branson said it was “a very difficult decision to make, but the right one in the circumstances”.

“We have more than 140 years of history and tradition of racing at Oakbank, and we’re a big part of the South Australian and Adelaide Hills tourism story,” she said.

“We’re obviously saddened, not only for the 30,000 people who would be coming to the carnival but also because of the flow on effects it will have on businesses that support the event.

“However, the races will go on – and that’s a positive. Our new format has generated increased interest from trainers in SA as well as Victoria and New Zealand, so we’re expecting strong fields.

“It’s a huge shame the crowds won’t be there to see it, but this is a problem being faced across the industry and across South Australia. We encourage everyone to support our racing online from home or at their favourite local venue this April and join us in person on December 23rd for the Oakbank Christmas Twilight Races.”

The club will be contacting ticket holders to organise full refunds or to offer racegoers the option to defer their booking to the Oakbank Christmas Twilight Races on 23rd December.

All race meetings at Morphettville will be limited to essential racing participants and racing officials only with no spectators or members allowed on course.

“Unfortunately, this means that we will be unable to welcome members and owners to the track, and instead we are encouraging them to follow the action from home,” said SAJC CEO Grant Mayer.

The decision affects a number of upcoming provincial and regional events including:

  • The Kimba Cup on March 22nd will run under the restrictions
  • A decision has been made to cancel the Streaky Bay Cup on March 28th in consultation with the club
  • The Clare races scheduled for Easter Saturday, the Penola Cup on Easter Sunday and the Easter Monday Barossa Cup at Gawler will all run under the restrictions.

Racing enthusiasts will be able to watch races live on free to air TV on, channel 78, and Sky and view all trials and club jump outs on the Thoroughbred Racing SA website.

Essential racing personnel are defined as:

  • Thoroughbred Racing SA stewards and veterinarians
  • Trainers, jockeys and stablehands with a runner at the race meeting
  • Barrier attendants, starters and essential track staff
  • Clerks of the course
  • Judges and photo finish operator
  • Weighing room staff and jockeys’ attendants
  • Raceday event staff and security including horse stalls, mounting yards and float carpark
  • Ambulance services
  • Farriers and other essential service providers approved by TRSA in conjunction with the club
  • Broadcast services including the racecaller
  • Restricted core racing media as approved by TRSA and the club
  • Restricted operational race club staff and management

No on-course wagering facilities will be available and essential personnel will be required to leave the racecourse after their horses have run. There will be no public access.

All industry participants will be required to have their industry ID cards to access race meetings.

Media enquiries: Phil Martin, Michels Warren PR on 0418 817 876 or

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