Firstly, and most importantly we hope that you are all in good health and even better spirits. It has felt like the last two months have taken two years to pass, but as BC “flattens the curve”, good news is starting to appear across society – luckily for us, including at Hastings Racecourse.
It had been announced last week that the backstretch was reopening to horses and over the last few days details of training protocols have been released, which means we were in a position to bring all of our horses back to the track which is underway as we speak. There have also been preliminary indications from the HBPA that a return to racing may be possible in early July. There is no official confirmation of this yet, but we’re all in the need of positive news so wanted to pass things along.
From talking to the trainers (and from the pictures below), they are very happy with the condition the horses are returning in after their farm training. Dancer hit the track for the first time at Hastings on Saturday morning and in typical fashion, was eager to run for as long as galloper Robbie would let him. Even during a pandemic, some things never change. Dancer may work out on Sunday morning, although official timed workouts aren’t scheduled to begin until the end of the month.
Among the horses arriving at the track was Richard’s Command, our two-year-old filly who arrived at Hastings for the first time. Perhaps the least impacted of our horses so far (given the two-year-olds don’t start racing until mid-summer anyway), she is going to be hitting the track on Sunday morning for her first look at the bullring.
As it was before the horses moved out, the backstretch is restricted to essential personnel only. This does mean that owners, jockeys agents and guests are not permitted to the backstretch at this time. We know that visiting the backstretch is one of the biggest benefits of the Racing Club, but naturally at this time everyone is all hands on deck, ensuring we do our bit to create an environment where racing can safely resume.
As mentioned above, there are no official plans released for a return to racing yet, however at the Club we are having discussions about how to navigate this year. There is a good chance that when racing resumes, that it is behind closed doors, meaning no spectators are permitted. If this is the case we will put into place as much as we possibly can to keep all of you in the loop. We’re still planning things, but this may take the form of a virtual orientation session and live behind the scenes videos from the track on racedays so even when if you’re watching a race from home, we can still take you into the paddock (and hopefully the winners circle!).
We received a lot of communication from members voicing and offering their support for the industry and the workers at Hastings, which was incredibly touching. As plans for racing are created, we may well be in the situation where Hastings is the only sporting action happening in Vancouver for the foreseeable future. If you have any friends who are feeling the boredom of physical distancing please do let them know about the track and the Racing Club, as it may be the perfect antidote to brighten up someone’s summer.
With the above in mind, if you still need to return your membership agreement/fees please touch base with us as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org as we are looking to get our membership list firmed up so we know how many spots we have left to offer new members.
We will sign off with some special mentions. The last couple of months have been turbulent times for everyone on the backstretch and our deepest thanks go out to the trainers, the horsemen who temporarily lost their jobs, the farms (and all of their staff) for taking our horses in at short notice and those who have been working behind the scenes to get a return to racing framework created. I know we all offer our thanks for them coming back in such good racing shape and most importantly, for keeping them safe.
Finally, but certainly not the least, we have the news to pass along that Nigel is going to be taking a step back from co-managing the Racing Club this year to focus on the many other hats he wears at Hastings. His experience and energy was a big asset last year as we tried to keep the show on the road after Richard’s passing and I know that we all would want to extend our warmest thanks. If anyone would like to touch base with him personally, he provides excellent commentary on BC and international horse racing on Twitter and also has a website https://www.nigelreidracing.com/ where he has all his contact information.