Craig Williams and Damien Oliver are among 25 jockeys who will be riding on race days only as part of a radical plan formulated by Racing Victoria as it attempts to keep the show on the road in Australia.
While British racing is on hold until the start of May at least because of the coronavirus pandemic, the action has been continuing in Australia, with Racing Victoria implementing a behind-closed-doors policy last week.
The authority has subsequently announced plans to go a step further, though – with 25 riders agreeing not to ride trackwork, trials or jump outs, as well as being asked to isolate themselves as much as possible away from the track.
They are also not allowed to travel to or from race meetings with any jockey outside the selected group, “with individual travel preferred and must separate themselves from other jockeys at race meetings as much as possible”.
An extra jockeys’ room will also be made available, and multiple sets of scales for weighing-out and weighing-in will assist in segregating the selected jockeys.
Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson said: “It is incumbent upon us to do everything possible to ensure that we provide an appropriate framework to help Victorian racing continue for the foreseeable future to protect the livelihoods of the 25,000 people who depend on it.
“As we have stated repeatedly, these are unprecedented times that require unprecedented actions to achieve our goals of protecting the health and well-being of industry staff and participants; and ensuring that our programmed race meetings can proceed.
“The segregation of our riders into groups is all about providing the industry with options should a rider be diagnosed with COVID-19.
“In simple terms, this is another insurance policy to help the industry keep ticking along while many other sports have been forced to suspend competition.
“We appreciate that today’s announcement may not be ideal for all stakeholders. However, we make no apologies for doing everything in our powers to build a framework that will give us the best shot of continuing racing in Victoria through this period of uncertainty.”