Tamworth Jockey Club is preparing to run this month's Tamworth Cup meeting behind closed doors.
Under restrictions imposed by Racing NSW in response to the Coronavirus outbreak, spectators are permitted from attending race meetings.
The Cup meeting is the club's biggest day outside of the Melbourne Cup, and while the prospect of having no crowd is far from ideal, TJC general manager Mitch Shaw said at this late stage it wasn't feasible to postpone it.
"Because this has come around quite quickly, the horses that are targetted for this race were already in work so it is difficult to move a day such as Tamworth Cup," he said.
"It is a shame that we can't have the public here as it is our showcase day but to keep the best interest of our key stakeholders, which are the trainers, going, we've decided to continue with the Tamworth Cup on the original date (April 26)."
Losing a significant revenue stream will have a big financial impact, and Shaw said there have been plenty of sleepless nights, but acknowledged that they are fortunate compared to a lot of other businesses and sports.
"We're lucky we are still racing and the steps that Racing NSW have put in place will hopefully ensure we continue to race so we are better off than a number of other businesses that have been forced to close their doors or other sporting codes," he said.
He said the club have put in a number of practices to ensure they can remain operational for as long as they can.
"We have increased our cleaning capabilities. We're transferring staff from certain areas into additional cleaning, and introduced social distancing as well," Shaw said.
"We're doing all we can to ensure the trainers keep having access to the club."
The club will get a bit of a prelude to what the Cup meeting will be like when they race on Friday.
It will be the first meeting they have run since the lockouts.
Shaw said it should be a great day's racing, albeit an "eerie" one without any members or the public there.
"We've actually been extended to nine races from an eight-race card," he said.
It comes after the club received 141 nominations. Shaw attributed that to trainers trying to get races in while they can with so much uncertainty about how long they will be able to continue on for.
The feature is the Mornington Prelude, which is a prelude to the Mornington Handicap to be held on Tamworth Cup day.
"Apart from that there's some strong fields. There's a benchmark 66, and a Class 3, which holds some great quality horses as well," he said.
The first race is set to jump at 12.40pm.
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