WINNING a race at ‘Headquarters’, Tabcorp Park Menangle, is something every harness racing trainer in this state aspires to.
And while trainers have been confined to competing in their respective regions during the COVID pandemic, things will change from Saturday night’s Menangle meeting.
The higher-classed assessed horses in country areas have had fewer races to contest simply because there are less rivals in the ‘bush’.
That has brought about a change which will allow trainers from regional areas to nominate for the Saturday night Menangle meetings, starting this weekend.
Protocols have been strictly adhered to so that racing could continue during the pandemic and HRNSW will ensure that trend continues when the country horses hit town.
That includes a directive that horses must be driven by drivers from the same region as the trainer and stablehands must also be from the same region as the trainer they assist.
Trainers will also be segregated into designated stabling areas to correspond with the region that they are from, which may not be in the main race stalls building.
And any licensee attending a metropolitan meeting must e-mail the result of a negative COVID test to stewards within seven days of the race meeting.
“We’re lucky we have the facilities to be able to accommodate everyone as we have the old stables as well as the retention barn stable facilities which we can use,” said Club Menangle racing manager David Wonson.
“It’s a great tribute to everyone that we have been able to continue racing through these tough times.
“Now we can look forward to the Breeders Challenge finals in a couple of weeks before we roll on through to the Inter Dominion.
“Nominations for the Inter Dominion pacers and trotters closed yesterday and we are excited about the quality of horses that are likely to be here.
“The trotters, in particular, are promising some great match-ups.”
Meanwhile leading Menangle trainer Jason Grimson makes a return to the sulky at Menangle today when he has only his second drive in the past eight months.
Grimson took the reins behind Rainbow Titan, who finished unplaced at Penrith last week, his first drive since February 2.
He’ll jump back in the bike today to pilot talented filly Island Blue Chip, who resumes from a spell in Race 6.
Island Blue Chip is having her first start from Grimson but is ready to run a bold race on the back of a trial at Menangle almost three weeks ago.