MURRUMBIDGEE Turf Club (MTC) will host an extra picnic race meeting on Saturday as the racing industry attempts to push through the COVID-19 pandemic.
With picnic race meetings at Ardlethan, Tullibigeal, Cootamundra and Boorowa all cancelled, Racing NSW has added a six-race picnic card to be held at Wagga on Saturday.
The meeting will be held on the Riverside circuit and will be closed to the general public.
It will be the first time the MTC has raced since Racing NSW closed race meetings to the public.
MTC chief executive Steve Keene is looking forward to helping the industry with the bonus meeting.
"It's to try and make up for the cancelled meetings around the district," Keene said.
"The industry asked us if it was something we could do and we jumped at the opportunity. It's a little thing we can do at this difficult time and gives that calibre of horse and riders a chance to race for money."
MTC received 78 nominations for the six-race non-TAB card, with entries extended until 11am on Tuesday for the Class B Handicap over 1660 metres.
It will be the first of two meetings within three days for MTC, with a full TAB program to be held on Monday, March 30.
Racing NSW reaffirmed its plan to continue with racing on Monday, amid the closure of most sports in Australia and around the world.
"Thoroughbred race meetings in NSW will continue to proceed under strict biosecurity risk management protocols in accordance with government and health authority advice," a Racing NSW statement read.
"These protocols have been in place since 16 March and include the conduct of race meetings without public attendance and appropriate social distancing of industry participants.
"Racing NSW will continue to apply and update these protocols in accordance with advice from government and health authorities to ensure the safety of all industry participants."
Wagga trainer Chris Heywood has nominated four horses for Saturday's picnic meeting. He welcomed Racing NSW's decision to push on.
"At least we're still ticking over, that's the main thing," Heywood said.
"This extra meeting is good, obviously it's important for the industry and they're doing a good job, there's no two doubts about that."
Albury Racing Club has also been given an extra race meeting for Saturday, April 4.
It will be a community level meeting, in a bid to replace the lost non-TAB meetings at Tocumwal, Holbrook and Deniliquin that were scheduled for April.
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