IF HE has proven anything during the past week, it’s he is a cool, calm, collected and conscious customer.
Becoming Harness Racing Victoria’s chief executive last November, Dayle Brown has barely had time to settle into his position before being confronted with arguably the greatest threat the industry has faced.
While the 2007 Equine Influenza outbreak was a challenging time, racing in Victoria was able to continue under strict guidelines.
The outbreak Australia is experiencing due to the Coronavirus, however, is creeping closer to forcing harness racing to shutdown.
But that won’t occur without a fight and Brown’s is proving a worthy general.
Along with constant dealings with government officials, Brown and his team are working tirelessly to keep industry participants up-to-date with the latest information.
That in itself is a valuable tool to help create some form of ease for those worrying about their livelihoods.
At Tabcorp Park Melton last Saturday night Brown was front-and-centre to record a video message for the industry, which can be watched by clicking here.
During the past 48 hours a lot has changed in relation to government lockdowns, with Brown again staying ‘in the loop’ while assuring the industry HRV is “doing everything it can”.
Everything includes the prospect of turning Tabcorp Park Melton into a quarantine zone where horses can be stabled while trainers and drivers can stay in the venue’s motel.
“We’ve been work-shopping a number of radical ideas to keep harness racing going, and everything is on the table in these uncertain times,” Brown said. “We are ensuring our industry continues to go forward.
“We are in uncertain times and we have to abide by government policy, but we have to take a leadership role in relation to this and show from a socialisation point of view that we are putting policies and procedures in place which keeps our people healthy and well.”
With racetrack attendance restrictions already in place, HRV has made a move to limit the number once again by only conducted eight races per meeting with a maximum of eight horses in each field.
Those meetings will be spread across districts to help avoid travel and limit the industry’s “footprint”.
As it stands only officials, trainers, drivers and required stablehands directly involved with a horse competing at the meeting are permitted to attend.
The public, owners and other licence holders are not allowed into the venues.
“We are trying to spread out racing across the state so we can keep our footprint at meetings as small as we can and that will help with socialisation and keeping the socialisation distance between people and complying with no more than 100 people in areas where there is cover and all those policies are in place to ensure people can continue to race in this state.”
Brown also reassured participants HRV is also looking at ways of helping maintain horse welfare should racing be forced to stop.
“If racing was to stop we’ve certainly got plans in place to ensure people can continue to look after their horses,” Brown said.
“We’re looking at what compensation is available, what we can do from an industry point of view and how we can access any government funding options at a federal and state level.”