Almost everyone wore a mask at the New Zealand Bloodstock Breeders’ Day at Wingatui, held under Covid-19 restrictions and excluding the public.
Otago Racing Club general manager Grant Gaskin was pleased that Saturday had gone well and grateful that the event could go ahead, despite Alert Level 2 restrictions limiting attendance to 100 people in any one area.
"I’m happy about what we’ve done", he said, but was disappointed that it had been necessary to do it that way.
The public could not be admitted and owners also could not be accommodated, because the club would otherwise have found it "very difficult" to maintain the strict pandemic attendance restrictions.
"Telling people they couldn’t come is never going to be something we want to do," he said.
The "most difficult decision" was whether the owners could attend.
The pandemic was "something we haven’t had to manage for a very long time", he said.
Close to 100 people had attended, and people had responded positively by wearing masks and following other pandemic safety requirements, he said.
The club had also followed safety guidelines provided by New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, he said.
Everyone entering the racecourse had had their temperature tested, people were required to fill in forms on entry, and mask use was required.
The club had also used its earlier experience in having hosted Otago’s first spectatorless race meeting, also because of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, in March last year.
Mr Gaskin acknowledged that New Zealand had benefited by earlier working closely together against the pandemic, and we were now able to stage race meetings — although in this case without spectators — something which was impossible in some other parts of the world.
"The US is just all over the place", including with a large and rising death toll, he said.
"That’s the benefit of what we’ve done," he said.
"It actually worked," he said of New Zealanders’ efforts to limit the pandemic’s effects.
"We’ve been good little Kiwis and we’re getting the benefits," he said.
Many sacrifices had previously been made, and had also been made at the meeting through restrictions on entry, but "I think we’ve done quite well", he said.