New Zealand Horse Racing Suffers During Covid-19 Outbreak

As Covid-19 sweeps the world, New Zealand’s alert level 4 comes into effect on Thursday, March 26th. This alert level will cause all non-essential businesses to close across the country. The TAB will continue to operate; however, Kiwis will need to bet on foreign sporting events including Australian and Hong Kong racing.

Unfortunately during the downtime for New Zealand horse racing industry horses and dogs aren’t like other business supplies that can be left on the shelf and survive the alert period without care. Most racehorses in New Zealand are kept at boarding stables, where a monthly fee is charged for their care. Due to their size and needs, most horses are unable to go home with owners or jockeys.

The racehorses and dogs require basics like food, water, and their stables cleaned daily to remain healthy; as well as medical care, and shoes replaced. Additionally, it is dangerous for a fit and healthy horse to regularly train and race, then stop working and be left in a stable! The horse can suffer serious health complications. Time off of work can also make returning to New Zealan horse racing more difficult and result in serious injuries when they resume racing.

New Zealand Racing Industry to appeal against the Decision

Racing industry bosses will appeal to the Ministry for Primary Industries today in efforts to declare training tracks, stables, and farms where dogs and horses are kept and receive training as essential workplaces. Racing may not qualify as an essential business; however, the welfare and safety of the animals involved is crucial and must be prioritized!

Beyond animal welfare, the racing industry will suffer major financial hardship during the duration of closures; it will severely impact the racing codes for years, which will lower the stakes that clubs can offer to competitors. When the stakes are lower, there is less money in the pot for New Zealanders who own racehorses to pay bills and trainers. Trainers will struggle to pay their staff who are regular taxpaying members of New Zealand. Racing bosses will soon be working with horse people and dog trainers to figure out what is available in terms of financial assistance from the government for their loss of income.

The Implications of the Closure of the Stables

Without racing business resuming again within a few months, thousands of New Zealanders will lose their jobs. If they are unable to cover boarding and training expenses due to the stoppage of racing, the fate of hundreds or even thousands of horses and dogs could be uncertain. Retired dogs and racehorses are usually rehomed, however, if there is an influx in retiring animals there is not a home guaranteed for all of them.

New Zealanders nationwide are feeling the effects of Covid-19 physically, emotionally, and economically. The racing industry is a large part of the nation’s economy. Thousands of jobs are at risk due to the alert level put in place by the government. The lives of dogs and horses depend on the stables declaration as essential businesses; and to remain open to continue care and training; the future of the industry depends on these animals.

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