‘We are a million miles behind NSW’: State wars heat up
Shadow racing minister Tim Bull claims Premier Daniel Andrews "inaction" on relaxing COVID-19 restrictions has gifted NSW another win after race-track restrictions were partially lifted at Randwick on Saturday.
Pointing to the presence of a small number of owners at Randwick and the reopening of Pub-.TABs in NSW, Ball said it was a "ridiculous situation", urging the Andrews Government to review lockdown measures.
"You can walk into a Pub-tab in Albury and have a bet, but not in Wodonga and this is duplicated right along the border," he said.
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"Every bet benefits the industry in the state it is placed.
"With many (people) hitting the road over the long weekend, they are likely to push on the extra five or 10 kilometres over the border where they can have a flutter on the horses or pokies.
"Now, to rub further salt into the wound, NSW owners returned to the track yesterday at Randwick, but they were still banned at the Flemington meeting.
"We are a million miles behind NSW.
"It looks like due to the inaction of the Andrews Labor Government, NSW Racing CEO Peter V'landys and racing in that state wins again.
"Of course we will hear Daniel Andrews and his Racing Minister (Martin Pakula) blame the health advice, but when it has suited them on issues like fishing and returning to school, they have been happy to overrule the chief health officer.
"There is no health advice to say Pub-TAB's can't be open or owners can return to the track. The fact is NSW is supporting its racing sector and is proactive about it returning to normal as soon as possible, but in Victoria we are not.
"I would also like to see the industry advocating more strongly and asking why we can have 200 people in Bunnings, but we can't have 200 owners on course, in a much bigger space, under the same restrictions."
Pakula responded by saying that "racing has been able to continue because everyone has respected the important biosecurity protocols that have been put in place.
"We continue to talk with Racing Victoria and metropolitan and country clubs regarding the road ahead. The same applies for Tabcorp and TAB outlets.
"Properly, decisions on these matters will be based on the advice of the Chief Health Officer."
The Andrews Government support for racing to continue through the pandemic includes an investment of $44 million across the three codes to protect jobs."
The Valley back in business
With under 20 weeks until the centenary Cox Plate, Moonee Valley Racing Club's Michael Browell is confident minor works will have the track in prime condition for Saturday's return to The Valley.
"We did a major track renovation last year," Browell said.
"We didn't race from March until August and we were pleased with how that worked for us.
"The track came up really well.
"This latest process was just house- keeping. We removed some of the poa (grass), which has tended to creep back in."
The Valley last raced in March and will on Saturday host a nine-race card as the venue continues to be redeveloped.
"The redevelopment is continuing and there's been significant progress but it won't impact the race meeting on Saturday."
The Valley's next meeting after Saturday is on August 1, when Browell hopes an easing of the COVID-19 crisis will allow a return of members, owners and the general public to the track.
Originally published as 'We are a million miles behind NSW': State wars heat up