Special technology will check race punters
The Australian Turf Club is strengthening biosecurity protocols to protect punters by introducing thermal imaging cameras that monitor temperature levels of every person who enters Royal Randwick racecourse on Saturday.
The race club is the first to implement this technology at an Australian sporting venue as part of the race club's COVID-19 recovery plan.
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Owners with runners will be permitted to attend the meeting for the first time since Golden Slipper Day in late March.
Sydney and NSW racing has been the only top level sport to continue to operate through the coronavirus pandemic in the last three months although race meetings have been run before empty grandstands with only trainers, jockeys, stablehands and essential workers allowed on racetracks.
But under the approved NSW Government Public Health Order plan released earlier this week, owners who pre-register with the ATC will be permitted on track under the first phase to return spectators to Sydney racing.
ATC can also have up to 50 owners in each of the designated dining areas inside the Randwick grandstand. Social distance protocols will be strictly enforced and patrons must remain in those dining rooms for the duration of the race meeting.
After race field acceptances were taken on Wednesday for the Listed Bob Charley Stakes meeting at Royal Randwick, ATC officials issued invitations to owners with horses racing on the day to register to attend.
But for those allowed to be trackside at Royal Randwick, they can only enter if they pass through the thermal imaging camera checkpoints.
The technology is an integral part of the ATC's biosecurity strategy to provide for the safety and security of racing, and specifically, regarding the return of spectators to race meetings.
"The thermal imaging cameras are a measure introduced by the ATC to ensure everyone is safe when they attend our racecourses,'' ATC chief executive Jamie Barkley said.
The cameras will be in operation at venue entry points and are designed to detect elevated body temperature and provide an alert when the pre-set temperature of 38 degrees celsius is exceeded.
Licensed security operatives trained in the use and function of the cameras will be monitoring the temperature readings.
If someone is detected with an elevated temperature, that person will be moved to a separate area, isolated from other people entering the venue, and will then be questioned by medical personnel about their current state of health, recent travel schedule and people they had been in contact.
Their temperature will be re-tested and if it remains elevated, or if their answers to any questions raise a red flag, they will not be permitted onto the racetrack.
The owners who are on track this Saturday will be situated in the upper levels of the Randwick grandstand and won't be permitted near trainers and jockeys who are quarantined on the ground level.
"It's first in, best dressed,'' Mr Barkley said.
"If we get 200 owners in the dining areas on-course on Saturday that is a nice return for racing.
Racing NSW CEO Peter V'landys AM said: "It was always the Board of Racing NSW's priority to allow owners back onto the racecourse first as they are the lifeblood of the industry and have kept their horses in work during this crisis.
"This is just a small gesture of our appreciation for the owners."
ATC is hoping to gain approval for some club members to return to race meetings in coming weeks as part of a staged plan to eventually allow the public back on track.
More good news for NSW punters with pub and club TABs opening again from Monday.
This comes after stand-alone NSW TAB agencies opened their doors last Thursday for the first time in more than eight weeks.
But it's a very different situation in Victoria with all TAB outlets remaining closed.
This means punters cannot have a bet in a pub-TAB in Wodonga but can drive five minutes over the border to bet in Albury. This scene will be duplicated right along the Murray River which divides NSW and Victoria.
In announcing that from Monday, NSW pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants can have up to 50 customers, Premier Berejiklian said the move was about safely bringing back thousands of jobs in an effort to rebuild their local communities.
Victorian publicans do not even have a date as to when they can open their doors again.
LEGEND'S SMALL STEPS TO EVEREST
Classique Legend will be the headline act when he resumes racing in the Listed $150,000 Bob Charley June Stakes (1100m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
The Les Bridge-trained Classique Legend hasn't raced since he finished down the track in the Golden Eagle last November. At his previous start, the hulking grey sprinter ran an unlucky sixth behind Yes Yes Yes in The Everest.
Bridge wants to aim Classique Legend at The Everest later this year - owner Bon Ho is also an Everest slot-holder - and felt the four-year-old needed to have a race preparation given the gelding has not raced for nearly eight months.
Classique Legend won't lack for opposition in the June Stakes with trainer Brad Widdup considering whether to back up with promising mare Adelong after her tough win at Rosehill last Saturday.
Godolphin's James Cummings is likely to nominate Viridine and Coruscate, while Hugh Bowman is booked to ride the Kris Lees-trained Tactical Advantage.
HOOPLESS FOR STRADDIE
Victorem is still without a jockey for the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm next Saturday.
Trainer Jenny Graham said she is prepared to wait until after the final Stradbroke field is declared to determine which lightweight jockey is available to ride Victorem at 52.5kg.
Graham's sprinter is currently on the third line of Stradbroke betting at $8 behind the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Dawn Passage at $4.50 favourite and reigning champ Trekking at $5.
Doncaster Mile-winning jockey James Innes Jnr has been booked for the Stradbroke ride on Dawn Passage at 50kg, a massive 7kg less than the sprinter carried to win last Saturday's Fred Best Classic at Doomben.
Trainers Peter and Paul Snowden have engaged Blake Spriggs to ride last start Gold Coast Guineas winner Hightail.
McDONALD CANTERS TO PREMIERSHIP
With two months of the 2019-20 season remaining, James McDonald is in the box seat to retain the Sydney jockey premiership.
McDonald's treble at Rosehill last Saturday has taken him to 88.5 wins for the season, opening up a decisive margin on nearest chaser Nash Rawiller (77 wins) for the premiership.
The champion jockey has 18 city meetings remaining to get the 12 winners he needs to smash the 100-win barrier for the second season in succession.
There is no stopping Chris Waller who prepared a brace of Rosehill winners including his Lord Mayors Cup trifecta led home by Wu Gok to take him to 119.5 wins for the season. The Hall of Famer has already secured his 10th successive Sydney trainer premiership.
A STAR RETURNS
Pinatubo, the freakish colt who's unbeaten six start juvenile campaign last year earned him a higher rating than all-time great Frankel at the same stage of their race careers, resumes in the English 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday.
Trainer Charlie Appleby said all the indications are Pinatubo has "trained on" since his stunning two-year-old season.
Godolphin's Pinatubo is prominent in early betting for The TAB Everest but the fact Appleby is racing his sensational colt first up at a mile (a1600m) and has entered him for the English Derby (a2400m) would suggest an Everest spring campaign is looking unlikely.
Originally published as New tech turns up heat on bid to get punters back to races