Horses jump out the gate at Penn National racecourse.

Horse racing off and on

Horse racing is continuing in many parts of the world despite the Coronavirus threat. However, more race venues are beginning to cease racing. While these track closures continue, there is great concern about what racehorse owners will do with horses who are not racing. It is a costly enterprise maintaining a racehorse, and no one has a clue how long this will go on.

Here’s news of a recent racecourse closure. The Guardian reports:

Fears for animal welfare as first Australian state bans horse and dog racing amid coronavirus crisis

Tasmania has banned horse and greyhound racing “effective immediately” in the latest wave of shutdowns intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus, while the racing industry in other states is quietly trying to make arrangements to house thousands of furloughed racehorses should the ban become national.

Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein announced the ban on Thursday, cancelling all race meetings for four weeks but allowing training facilities and people responsible for the care and wellbeing of the animals to continue operating.

Explaining the decision, which followed an outbreak of Covid-19 in the regional hub of Devonport, Gutwein said he was concerned that large groups of people were continuing to gather at the races, even though spectators have been banned.

New South Wales Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi has called on other states to follow Tasmania’s lead, saying it was “absolutely crazy that greyhound and horse racing is continuing in the middle of a global pandemic”.

Other Cancellations

 Ireland shut down racing last week, following the United Kingdom. Hong Kong and Japan are still running.

Racing Victoria said it would continue racing after Victoria introduced tough stage-three social distancing laws this week. Jamie Stier, the executive general manager of integrity services, said the industry was “continually reviewing our biosecurity protocols” and “learning from our collective experiences over the past three weeks”.

Both thoroughbred and harness racing was suspended last week due to coronavirus scares, but the sport resumed when tests were returned negative.

Churchill Downs’ blog,, published the following on Mar. 12:

“A number of jurisdictions are conducting racing without spectators, including Hong Kong, Australia*, and Japan.

“Live racing has been canceled in South Korea (through April 5), France (at least through April 15), Ireland (through April 19)**, New Zealand (through April 21), South Africa (through April 17), India (all tracks for an indefinite period), South America (Uruguay indefinitely), and Mexico (indefinitely)”.

*Except Tasmania. **Shut down last week (see above). Our notes.


There are 35 active racetracks in the USA. It is hard to keep up, but there are some running. Most of those are racing without spectators. Santa Anita was recently shut down by the Los Angeles County Health Department. Other racing in California continues.

Racehorses in peril

RSPCA chief scientist Bidda Jones said it was “inevitable” that horse racing would be suspended in Australia.

“Nobody quite knows what the capacity is for farms to take horses leaving racing because we’ve never been in a position whereby, if there was a shutdown of racing, so many would be leaving at one time,” he said.

Jones added however that a shutdown posed “a huge risk” to horse welfare and the industry needed to prepare so it was not attempting to retire a large number of horses at once.

Julie Fiedler from Horse SA said that widespread job losses caused by the shutdown of the hospitality industry and other coronavirus control measures would cause a “silent animal welfare tsunami” as people became unable to afford to care for their horses. Major saleyards such as Echuca and Pakenham in Victoria have suspended their horse sales, leaving knackeries the only option for a quick sale.

“If it goes on for an extended period of time, people are going to have to reevaluate the cost of keeping a horse,” she said.

At the mercy of racing

So what should and what will horse racing do about the horses? Here racehorses are, yet again, in peril, and at the mercy of racing.

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Related Reading

» Despite coronavirus lockdown, horses were still racing at Sacramento’s Cal Expo. Until now. Sacramento Bee. 1 April 20.

4 thoughts on “Horse racing off and on”

  1. I was watching the news on TV when the Premier of Tasmania came on and made his announcement.
    At last the only decision that should’ve been made weeks ago finally took place. But, this is just a small racing jurisdiction. What will it take for the other states to do the right thing. I’m disgusted that Racing Australia has just sat back, turned a blind eye and dished out spin. The racing industry here has been giving pathetic excuses for racing to continue on despite the deadly Covid-19 crisis we have.
    It was necessary for me to drive down to Sydney yesterday and as always I saw the horse racing transport trucks on the highway. I felt sick in the stomach.
    RA and the industry here, as well as the Federal government (which has been providing $billions for various industries and the people of Australia at this time) have the power and money to place all of the racehorses in a safe and healthy environment for as long as it takes.
    Ever since the seriousness of this coronavirus came to light, I worried about the welfare of the racehorses and believe me, horses will disappear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These greedy, selfish people are insatiable and are keeping horse racing going for the gambling revenues, and perhaps the purses too, but to a much lesser degree. Gambling keeps horse racing alive. And yes, you are spot on, the horses will disappear. Most of the cast off racehorses, as you know, will be slaughtered and disappear into the bellies of horse meat consumers.


  2. This article affirms what opponents of horse racing have always said.
    The racehorses are considered disposable gambling chips because hardly anybody has any plans to re-home them or even have the facilities to facilitate a plan.
    So it only stands to reason that they have not enough homes now in light of this human catastrophe.
    You would think if somebody really “cared for their family member” as horse racing often spews than they would think about providing a home for their racehorse when they can no longer race.
    Those plans would have and should have already been in place.
    Furthermore, there have been major natural catastrophes in the past 2 years from earthquakes (Puerto Rico) to floods and fires (California) and the multi-billion dollar horse racing business didn’t even have Emergency or contingency plans in place, which is why many racehorses suffered, and subsequently died.
    This business only knows how to exploit, abuse, dope, beat, dump and kill.
    Anything beyond that is “caring” and parasites don’t care about their host.
    They leave their unwanted racehorse mess up to everybody else to clean up that’s after they’ve sucked them dry just like a good parasite does.
    This entire vile business needs to be BANNED.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for spelling it out so well. Racing is filthy rich and just like you said, they can afford to take care of these horses, but they won’t. We particularly love the statement, “parasites don’t care about their host”. We may borrow it, giving you credit of course!


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