We spoke to Timeform Australia handicapper Gary Crispe on the Paddy Power From the Horse’s Mouth podcast about the current state of Horse Racing Down Under amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
All of us in the industry are holding out breath day-by-day and hoping it does continue.
One of the things I think the general public who haven’t been involved in racing don’t realise is back in 2007 we went through Equine Flu which virtually devasted Australian Racing for the best part of six months.
Some racing was allowed to go on at the time, but with extreme protocols around it.
The experience of those protocols and for people who attended those meetings, like myself and the media, saw the amount of effort that was put in to getting those meetings going, and keeping them going.
I think racing has learned a lot from that and the protocols in place now have replicated that and even gone further.
The Australian racing board have been very proactive in getting to the National Cabinet here, which is basically run by our Prime Minster, and put a submission to that National Cabinet to show how important racing is to the Australian economy.
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For example, it contributes about AU$9.5bn annually, and half of that is generated in regional areas of Australia. It’s important to keep that going, and so far it’s been relatively unaffected by the virus.
Also, that prize money flows down to the participants to keep the industry going. You’ve got roughly 100,000 participating in the thoroughbred industry in Australia so you’re talking about a massive community, and it’s important it does continue, and they are taking all the right steps to make sure it does.
With no football to watch on a Saturday, turnover has gone up. The returns back to the racing industry are good.
All States have decided to reduce prize money. A lot of races over AU$1m are being cut in half with the prize money being put aside to ensure the industry does have enough money to get it through to the other side.
People in the industry think that’s a good thing to do. Whatever sacrifices we need to make as a body to get through I think is all worthwhile because it does give everybody something to look forward to each day, and particularly at the weekend.
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