Harness racing fraternity raring to get to the start blocks
The Driving Horse and Pony Club is keeping close tabs on the Government’s easing of Covid-19 restrictions in the hope of harness racing resuming at Vesey Street before the start of Spring.
A spike in the number of positive cases on the island led to the shutdown of sporting activities on the island early last month.
However, the Government has since unveiled a four-stage plan, in phase two at present, for sporting activities to resume and eased restrictions allowing teams to return to full training.
“The DHPC is hopeful that phase four of the government return-to-sport protocol will allow us to restart the 2020-21 race season on March 14, pending all necessary approvals are in place,” Colin Mello, the DHPC president, said.
In phase four — “Return to Play” — fans will be permitted at sporting events, although the maximum number is still to be determined by the health department.
“The membership and race teams are excited to get back on track with the 2020-21 race season,” Mello added.
“With our season being paused since December 5, and the restart hopefully going ahead on March 14, many of the ponies and race teams have put in a lot of work to keep all the ponies fit and race ready.”
The popular Boxing Day and New Year’s Day Stakes Races were unable to be held as a result of the shutdown.
However, the DHPC still intends to stage two of its biggest and most prestigious events on the racing calendar when the season resumes.
“We have created an updated season calendar with the aim of also rescheduling what would have been our usual Boxing Day and New Year’s Day Stakes Races,” Mello said.
“Current plan is to hopefully host the holiday season stakes races on March 28 and April 3, and then finish the season on the weekend of May 2 and 23 with our Champion of Champions race weekend.”