Leading jockey Craig Williams has explained the lengths both Racing Victoria and the riding fraternity are going to in a bid to ensure the sport can continue to flourish amid the coronavirus crisis.
Racing as an industry doesn’t necessarily need to lean on spectators to survive and if the correct measures are put in place, then the races can go ahead.
At present, there is a temporary hiatus as top rider Mark Zahra undergoes tests for COVID-19 but Williams explained that the jockeys are doing everything in their power to keep the sport and indsutry afloat.
Even a charter flight was booked to travel to Sydney for last weekend’s Golden Slipper meeting at Rosehill.
“Part of the procedures and the protocols set up in place was we did have to go to the means of chartering a flight,” he said on SEN’s Whateley.
“I was asked to come up and ride (track) work during the week and my team and I discussed that we weren’t going to take the risk of being on a commercial flight with other people.
“We’ve been basically isolating ourselves for the last three weeks prior. We made that conscious decision then.
“We are going on nearly two weeks earlier (with how the Zahra situation came about) and those later measures weren’t implemented at that stage. Then of course everything has been changed and the borders closed down.
“We are now not able to charter. Melbourne jockeys are Melbourne jockeys and New South Wales have been segregated to New South Wales.”
Williams also revealed what has been taking place in Victoria in order to keep racing virus-free.
“Racing Victoria then took the steps early to try and segregate groups and clusters of riders so as if one cluster went down, we were hoping to sustain it with another group of riders,” he added.
“Everyone has been trying to put these measures in place to satisfy the government, first and foremost, because they are the controlling body on our destiny and careers.
“Once we can guarantee we can implement those and hopefully stop the spread of the virus getting into the industry, then that was the whole principle to get another day, another time out of it.
“But it’s very aggressive. If it was a jockey it would be winning all the races, that’s for sure.”
As it stands, racing in Victoria has been postponed we await test results for Zahra. If he is cleared of COVID-19 then racing will resume on Friday.
If that occurs, Williams will be forced to ride at Bendigo for the Golden Mile rather than travel to Sydney for the Group 1 Tancred Stakes day.
Listen to Williams' chat with Gerard Whateley below: