Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel remains confident Sydney jockeys won’t breach coronavirus protocols, unlike rugby league players.
Racing was the only show in town last year when the pandemic locked virtually everyone down and Wednesday’s Canterbury meeting is not in doubt.
“Racing has been able to adapt in this pandemic to ensure the show can go on,” Van Gestel said.
“I can only talk about racing but racing has a very solid framework in terms of integrity and adherence to the rules that dates back many years.
“Participants are issued with a license and I think they see that as a privilege and realise the industry is there for their prosperity and if it doesn’t continue it effects their livelihood.”
Racing NSW Chief Steward Marc Van Gestel remains confident Sydney racing will continue. Picture: Photo by Mark Evans – Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Racing NSW stewards have spoken to their pandemic expert about running meetings in hot spots like Randwick, Canterbury and Warwick Farm.
“His advice to us was, because of the measures we have in place like wearing masks and social distancing, that there was no increased risk in conducting meetings in those areas,” Van Gestel said.
“It’s a venue locked down to just industry participants.”
Stewards have been out at Warwick Farm conducting temperature checks and making sure everyone is social distancing.
Van Gestel said industry participants are doing the right thing and will need to keep it up, particularly in the next fortnight which will be seen as a crucial period as Sydney tries to stop the spread of the virus.
“Jockeys are the ones we’re really focusing on because their participation is paramount to the industry continuing,” Van Gestel said.
“We have to ensure they’re all doing the right thing. We have our highest level of protocols in place and are confident they’ll provide adequate protection to the industry.”
To succeed in Sydney, Bjorn Baker has had to make a habit out of being a giant killer and he’s on the cusp of claiming another huge scalp.
For more than 10 years Chris Waller had ruled Sydney racing but Godolphin has run second in the metropolitan trainer’s premiership for the past six seasons with John O’Shea and James Cummings as head trainers.
In 2014/15 O’Shea trained 81-½ winners with Baker finishing on 26.
Baker bobbled up and down in the next few years then got to within 16 wins of Cummings last season.
The victories of Harpo Marx and Van Giz at Randwick on Saturday took Baker to 52 city wins this season – just one behind Cummings.
And Baker wants to finish in front of Cummings when the season finishes at the end of this month.
“I’m going to give it a crack,” Baker said.
“I think I’ve got some good runners going around in the next few weeks so we’ll see how we go.”
To be fair, Cummings has won bigger races and more on a Saturday which is why his horses have earned $12 million more than Baker’s stable but wins are all that counts on the premiership table.
Harpo Marx wins for Bjorn Baker at Rosehill on Saturday. Picture: Mark Evans – Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“If someone told me I could train more winners in town than Godolphin three or four years ago I would’ve said ‘no chance’,” Baker said.
“Just on the pedigrees alone they’re in a different ballpark and nothing is going to change.
“My job is just to get my horses running to the best of their ability. You can’t take things for granted in Sydney because it’s so tough.
“Last season was good and it probably went under the radar a bit but to run in the top three would be very good.
“The Group 1s is where I’ve got to aim.”
A few seasons ago Baker decided to take his horses to the bush for a confidence booster.
Bon Hoysted famously took future champ Manikato to a lesser meeting for his debut “to get the confidence of a win” before he went on to win another 28 races on the big stage.
Baker’s O’mudgee ran at Bathurst twice, Scone and Nowra and only won one of those four races but has since scored twice in town.
“People used to tease me three or four years ago for winning out wide in the country and I’ve still got a lot of those horses now,” Baker said.
“I’m just getting a lot of horses back year on year and have a good team behind me. It’s a lot of fun to work with good people.
“We’re in a good position but at the end of the day you can only worry about yourself so we’ll keep going.”
Like all trainers, Baker’s best horses are back in his stable ahead of the spring carnival and he pointed out his best horse who will be on a staying campaign.
“I’ve just got my pin-up horse back, She’s Ideel, and she’s come back stronger again,” Baker said.
“She’s probably my best horse but I like Malkovich a lot and Maurice’s Medad will go on to bigger things and Belluci Babe is another who will win good races.”
We will have to wait 10 years or so to see what influence Jamie Kah’s history-making day on Saturday has on racing.
There must be a stack of girls in their teens and even younger who will now go on to chase their dreams of being a jockey after Kah became the first hoop to ride 100 winners in a season in Melbourne.
She was on the front pages of major newspapers down south.
“A truly remarkable effort. Great for all young sportswomen to try and emulate,” Blake Shinn tweeted from Hong Kong.
In sad news, champion stallion Galileo died on Saturday aged 23.
The son on Sadler’s Wells was euthanised due to “chronic, non-responsive, debilitating injury to the left fore foot”.
Galileo sired 91 Group 1 winners including the highest rated horse of all-time Frankel.
He was a 12-time champion sire across Great Britain and Ireland.
“It is a very sad day, but we all feel incredibly fortunate to have had Galileo here at Coolmore. I would like to thank the dedicated people who looked after him so well all along the way,” Coolmore‘s John Magnier said.
Originally published asNSW racing to go ahead in face of Covid-19 threat
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