LOCKDOWN 5.0 delivered a cruel blow for the Moe Racing Club, who for the second time this year had to shut its gates to the general public on
Saturday’s Christmas in July meeting went ahead without spectators, mirroring what happened in February for the Local Cups and Community Race Day.
As the lockdown became official, the situation quickly became a logistical nightmare for the club.
Speaking to The Express last Friday, Moe Racing Club chief executive officer Shane Berry was understandably devastated.
“Everybody’s disappointed and frustrated … frustration is the key word,” he said.
“We put in a lot of effort to arrange events, it’s across the board for all racing and all clubs, you have to put in applications to run a safe COVID event and they’re quite particular, it takes a lot of time and a lot of approval and a lot of planning goes into that.
“It’s been now 19 months of this, we need to find a better solution than locking down the whole state every time.
“It’s hard to keep trying to stay motivated and positive but we do our best.”
The club had sold all its racing and hospitality packages and estimated at least $20,000 in revenue loss just from the meeting.
Added into that was the loss from the closure of Turfside Bistro for its three biggest trading days of the week from Friday to Sunday – growing that $20,000 figure even more.
Unfortunately the lockdown also meant a vast amount of food went to waste and needed to be thrown out.
Despite all the negatives, the Moe Racing Club, in helping those who help them, refunded those who purchased packages or gave them the option to transfer to their next meeting, the Ladbrokes Members Day on August 7.
All racing club staff were paid for the hours they worked.
While other sporting codes didn’t even get on the field, Berry said it was pleasing to at least have some action on the track.
“I do appreciate the state government allowing the racing to continue without crowds because there are a lot of livelihoods involved with racing,” he said.
“I’m not talking about food and beverage I’m talking about the industry as a whole – without racing we’d all be in a bit of trouble.
“These horses, they’re athletes themselves so they need this – it’s all about the welfare of the animal too.”
At the meeting, only necessary staff and trainers were permitted to be on site.
Owners could not attend, as the process basically went drop off, run, pack up and go home.
If there is any saving grace, the racing public has already shown its support for the Moe Cup on Friday, October 15.
“On a positive the Hillside’s (pavilion) already sold out,” Berry said.
“We’re really hoping for a big Moe Cup this year. The club needs this to come back … it’s ‘Country Comeback'”.