The recent ban imposed by Racing Victoria (RVL) on travelling companions (ponies) attending race meetings has caused widespread concern amongst participants.
This ban, introduced on 19 April, is intended to support RVL’s social distancing measures on race day. This measure centres on leaving a tie-up vacant between groupings of trainers from the same centre. For example, all Cranbourne trainers are placed in one section, a tie up is then left vacant, the Caulfield trainers are placed in the next, and so on.
As a result, and with starter numbers at high levels for most meetings, RVL made a decision to ban ponies to ensure they could both accommodate racehorse numbers and promote social distancing between trainer groups.
Given the number of phone calls and emails RVL (and the ATA) have received on this matter, it would be fair to say that the ban is unpopular.
Before the ban was introduced, the ATA put forward a number of alternative options for RVL to consider. This included leaving ponies in the float park where this could be done without risk to their welfare, to allowing a small percentage of ponies on course for racehorses known to be the worst individual travellers. Only this week we suggested RVL could assess starter numbers on a meeting by meeting basis, and where the numbers were low and the obvious stress on the tie ups reduced, trainers could be advised by text that travelling companions would be allowed for the race meeting.
Despite all our efforts, RVL has elected to stick with their policy and maintain a total race day ban at this time. Naturally this will come as disappointing news to affected participants.
We will continue to discuss all viable options with RVL which may allow them to reverse or relax their policy, as we appreciate for many the use of a travelling companion is not a luxury, rather it is a necessity.
In the meantime, affected trainers should carefully consider their options, which may include the use of commercial transport for individual horses, or selecting race days/programs which allow for multiple stable entries.
We will update you again when we have any news or developments on this subject from RVL.
Should you wish to provide your feedback in writing in relation to these matters, please do so by clicking here.
Alternatively, contact the office on (03) 9372-1688 should any one wish to discuss this with myself.