Harness racing across NSW has been suspended for at least three days as the industry awaits a test from a steward who had contact with a coronavirus sufferer.
Harness Racing NSW announced the suspension on Tuesday after discovering a participant who attended last Thursday's meeting at Penrith was a potential coronavirus carrier. Chief executive John Dumesny later told Sky Racing the participant was a steward who was tested on Tuesday and results would take four to five days to come back.
Programming for meetings beyond Thursday have continued to ensure an immediate resumption of racing if the test is negative.
However, the news puts in doubt Saturday night's Newcastle meeting and Bathurst's group 1 finals.
Maitland's Mitch and Guy Chapple have La Cabeza Gem in the Bathurst Gold Tiara and Nulkaba trainer Clayton Harmey has Fire And Sword in the Gold Chalice.
Both were drawn on the second line for their respective group 1, $100,000 races on Tuesday. La Cabeza Gem, an impressive 18m heat winner, will start one out from the pegs, while Fire And Sword has the inside spot.
Full HRNSW statement below:
HRNSW Management advises that they are currently monitoring the health of an industry participant who was in attendance at the Penrith Harness meeting on Thursday 19 March 2020 and who had previously been in direct contact with a person confirmed to have contracted the COVID-19 virus.
All persons who had direct contact with the industry participant have already been notified. Consequently and regrettably, HRNSW advises that Harness Racing will be temporarily suspended until the results of medical testing become available.
The race meetings scheduled from today through until Thursday 26 March 2020 have been abandoned.
For meetings after that date, fields will be drawn to facilitate the recommencement of harness racing at the earliest opportunity.
All persons who attended the Penrith harness meeting on Thursday 19 March 2020 are advised to closely monitor their health and seek immediate medical attention should they develop flu like symptoms. www.healthdirect.gov.au
HRNSW should also be advised immediately if any industry participant becomes unwell regardless of their location.
HRNSW management reminds all industry participants of the available industry support program: www.hrnsw.com.au/industry-integrity/development--support-program-dasp
Finally, the Board and management of HRNSW have taken these precautionary steps for the protection of the community, industry participants and staff.