Sport

Shepparton to host all North-East Victorian trots

By Alex Mitchell

Victoria's harness racing scene has been split into six regions to attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus — and Shepparton will be one of nine venues used across the state.

The six regions — Inner-west, West, East, North West, Central and North-east — will have centralised tracks, with Shepparton acting as the home base for the North-east.

Participants from Echuca, Kyabram, Benalla and Cobram will race at Shepparton, while Seymour horses have been zoned in the East region and will race at Kilmore and Cranbourne.

The new system is designed to limit the travel for participants, in turn hoping to restrict the spread of COVID-19.

“This model allows us to keep essential personnel and participants at race meetings. It also provides us the best opportunity to continue conducting race meetings,” Harness Racing Victoria chief executive Dayle Brown said.

“The support we have received through regular and thorough consultation with our industry representative bodies during this challenging period has been really important and I thank them for that.”

Trots Clubs Victoria president Tim Scala said, while some clubs would lose meetings, continuing to race while meeting coronavirus regulations was far more important.

“We want to survive as an industry and come out the other side of this,” Scala said.

“It will mean that some clubs will have their racing transferred to another track or region, but we need to be happy that there will still be clubs operating.”

Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association president Lance Justice said the move was vital for the sport's stakeholders.

“Naturally there will be some who would like to have been assigned to another region or race at other tracks. I understand that, but we must unite to support this model so as we can continue earning prizemoney and paying the bills,” Justice said.

“The racing office staff at HRV will be flat-out reworking the programs and the fields. We have been given assurances they will program to provide as many opportunities as possible throughout all the regions.”

With the next fortnight's venues released, Shepparton will host races tomorrow night, as well as on Sunday, April 12.