Covid: Cancellation of NZ Racing Continues

GREYHOUND Racing NZ has stepped up to the plate by paying industry subsidies while the Covid-19 suffocation of all New Zealand racing continues.

Peter Fenemor

25 August 2021

GREYHOUND Racing NZ (GRNZ) has stepped up to the plate by paying industry subsidies while the Covid-19 suffocation of all New Zealand racing continues.

Yesterday, GRNZ introduced a nationwide $5 per greyhound subsidy which is inclusive for all greyhounds irrespective of age (includes pups and retirees).

The outbreak of the Delta coronavirus variant has seen the entire nation being placed in full level 4 lockdown.   

New Zealand operates under four Covid-19 alert levels with level 4 being the harshest meaning that only absolute essential services can open or operate.

There are various government-controlled subsidies that can be applied for.

All sport and racing events are suspended at level 4 and can only recommence under very strict criteria when a drop back to level 3 occurs.

Racing industry participants from all three-codes will be holding their collective breaths for this Friday afternoon’s government announcement about a possible level downgrade. 

It has already been announced that the Covid-19 hotbed Auckland region will remain at level 4 until at least midnight Tuesday, hence the transfer of Sunday’s Manukau meeting to Cambridge providing the Waikato region drops to level 3.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the South Island remains Covid-19 free, with Wellington being the only other region that has recorded positive cases. 

Hopefully the normal New Zealand racing schedule (Auckland excepted) can start up again for the balance of the country from Monday, starting at the Manawatu and Addington Raceways. 

Obviously, trainers and owners are financially hemorrhaging hugely owing to the loss of race stake earnings. 

The GRNZ subsidy covers a 14-day period ending this Friday. Provision has been made for the scheme to be extended should level 4 be prolonged, which will apply to Auckland based industry participants.

GRNZ Racing and Welfare Manager Michael Dore informs the Greyhound Recorder.

“Greyhounds still have to be fed and with license persons facing cuts owing to losing their prime racing incomes GRNZ has stepped in to fill the gaps (income).

“This initiative provides some surety for them – it is open to anyone who requires it. We have received positive feedback about providing solid support.”

It is estimated the subsidy cost to GRNZ will be approximately around the $50,000 mark.         

“We now wait to see the next direction that Delta takes – fingers and toes are crossed for a return to racing this weekend,” added Dore.

Northern based training sisters Lisa and Tracey Craik enjoyed great success during the recently completed 2020/21 racing season (145 winners) and had started the new season in great style.

However, their young racing team face a longer period in being denied racing opportunities, being based in Drury, part of the Auckland region.

“It is utterly frustrating, although it is what it is – we just have to carry on caring for our greyhounds,” advised Lisa.

“We really appreciate any support offered and it’s good to see GRNZ providing support for the licensed persons – something is better than nothing.

“Mentally the lockdown is tough to take – our addiction is watching our greyhounds race. Not being able to do so is the hard part. There’s a limit to how much we can do with them here at home. 

“However, life goes on,” reflected Lisa.