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‘We can’t abandon them’: Why racing is different to ‘other sports’ during coronavirus crisis

3aw mornings

Racing Victoria chief Giles Thompson says he’s “not blind or deaf” to the fact that horse racing could soon be shut down indefinitely due to the coronavirus crisis.

But he says the multi-billion dollar industry, which has more than 25,000 jobs depending on it in Victoria alone, can’t simply “switch off” like other sports.

Racing was briefly brought to a halt while the results of jockey Mark Zahra’s COVID-19 test were processed.

It came back negative.

The jockey had been on the same flight as another person who had since tested positive.

Giles Thompson told 3AW he understood why some may be confused as to why racing has continued while most other sports have stopped, but explained there were “fundamental differences” that racing faced.

“Unlike other sports, we can’t just simply switch off,” he said.

“We have horses at the centre of our sport.

“Those horses will still need care, they’ll still need exercising and they’ll still need feeding.

“We can’t just simply turn our back on them.

“We have a responsibility and an obligation to them.

“The nature of a (government forced) lockdown might mean we’re not competing on a racetrack, but clearly we can’t abandon the animals in our sport.

“It won’t be a total lockdown.”

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