Medhurst's Grave Fears For Tasmanian Racing

HALL of Fame trainer Ted Medhurst holds grave fears for Tassie racing if the government’s four-week suspension extends out any further.

Adam Dobbin

3 April 2020

HALL of Fame trainer Ted Medhurst says he holds grave fears for the Tasmanian racing industry if the government’s imposed four-week suspension extends out any further.

On Thursday afternoon, Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein blindsided the entire racing industry when declaring that the three-codes would cease for a month as a further measure to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was just getting ready to walk out the door and load the trailer up to go to Hobart when I heard the news,” Medhurst said.

“I just sat there in shock for 20 minutes. The decision smacked of typical politicians making a knee jerk reaction to misinformation. I can’t for the life of me understand why they’ve done this. If all hell had broken loose and the virus was spreading like wildfire then I understand, but it hasn’t.”

Medhurst took particular umbrage with the government’s decision to cancel Hobart’s Thursday night card only hours out from its scheduled commencement.

“Ben Englund had a four hour drive and was half-way when he heard,” Medhurst said.

“The poor greyhounds get canned with a few hours notice yet the massage parlours are given 24 hours grace at the same time. Work that one out. I can’t.”

At Thursday’s press conference, Premier Gutwein presented his line of reasoning for suspending racing in the state, another clear point of conjecture for Medhurst.

“Everything he came up with you can debunk in two minutes – not even that,” Medhurst said.

“He was worried about the older participants attending the tracks. Easy we get someone else to take them. He mentioned no betting turnover with pubs and clubs closed. Does he know the majority of us now use our phones and computers? Then there was the excess travel. We move to zoned racing. If the state’s Medical Officer had concerns I’m sure Tasracing would have worked through them as they had been.

“The whole thing is totally illogical. The industry has moved and shifted with what’s been needed to continue racing. There’d be more people at McDonald’s on a Saturday morning than what there’d be at a dog meeting. It’s ridiculous.”

Like the entire racing fraternity in Tasmania, Medhurst is calling on Tasracing to communicate with the government and expedite a return to racing.

“We need our leaders to lead,” Medhurst said.

“I’d say 99 percent of participants in the three racing codes live from week to week. A suspension of racing any longer than a month will be devastating.

“Our overheads are horrendous and they’re not going anywhere. The welfare of our animals will always come first and they’ll get spoiled rotten but I fear any relief or compensation will spread pretty thin.

“Being fair dinkum the social footprint of the racing industry on the community is next to zero. We go to the races and home, that’s it.

“I’m not saying we’re a protected species but if there’s no practical reason to stop racing then we shouldn’t. We need to demonstrate that now to the government.”