The best jockeys in the country will not take part in this year's Wagga Gold Cup carnival due to a new rule introduced by Racing NSW.
As the industry tries to continue to operate despite the threat of COVID-19, the latest restriction has provided another blow to this year's carnival.
NSW jockeys have been asked to designate one of three regions in the state they wish to ride, in a bid to restrict movement by riders.
With the likes of Kerrin McEvoy, Glen Boss, Hugh Bowman, James McDonald and Tommy Berry all naturally choosing the Sydney metropolitan region, it has ruled them out of riding at this year's Gold Cup carnival.
The latest development comes just a week after it was decided that this year's carnival would be closed to the general public.
Murrumbidgee Turf Club chief executive Steve Keene believes the unique situation will provide a rare opportunity for the region's jockeys.
"The Tommy Berrys of the world and riders like that won't be allowed to come," Keene confirmed.
"It will be great for our local jockeys though and it's going to give them an opportunity to ride in races they otherwise might not have.
"It's a great chance for them and if I was a local jockey, I'd want to be in form in a month's time."
The likes of Boss, Berry, Bowman, Tim Clark, Glyn Schofield and Rachel King have been regular visitors to the Wagga Gold Cup carnival in recent times.
It will also rule them out competing for the Tye Angland Medal, for the leading jockey over the two major days of the carnival. While only introduced last year, the medal already holds strong significance to the jockeys, including many from the metropolitan region who are friends with Angland.
Wagga apprentice jockey Josh Richards experienced his first ride in the Wagga Gold Cup and Town Plate last year.
He believes it will be a good chance to feature more prominently over the carnival.
"It's a great opportunity, I guess, for more local people to get a go, even trainers," Richards said.
"It's great, it should probably make it a bit more of an even playing field too."
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