The Sunday Mail
HORSE RACING makes its much awaited triumphant return this Friday, when eight horses line up for the third leg of the Zimbabwe Triple Crown at Borrowdale Race course.
Dubbed ‘The Zimbabwe Derby’, the race will be the first piece of action for the sport since March 15 when racing was halted following the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The Covid-19 pandemic did not only affect Zimbabwe’s horse racing but halted all forms of sport across the globe.
But as racing returns today, one major missing factor will be the spectators as the Government ban on gatherings, as a measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus, is still in place.
Betina Gurajena, Mashonaland Turf Club administrative executive told the Sunday Mail online that they were following the guidelines provided by the government through the Sport and Recreation Commission in implementing the new normal for horse racing.
“We are working closely with the Sports and Recreation Commission, and have taken every measure possible to ensure the safety of everyone involved,” said Mashonaland Turf Club Racing and administrative executive Betina Gurajena.
“There will be no spectators allowed only the riders and trainers. We will be taking precautionary measures like testing those that will attend and sanitising the venue” she said.
This is the last leg of the Zimbabwe Triple Crown for three-year-olds; with Lily Blue and Wantage taking the first two legs, the Zimbabwe Guineas, and the Zimbabwe 2000 respectively.
The race, mainly for Grade Three horses, will afford locals their time in the sun, with the likes of Lily Blue, Wantage, Seattle Frost and Zambezi Rapids all within a shout.
“The race will mostly consist of locals, as the foreign riders, mostly from South Africa, will not be able to travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns.
“In the stead, the locals will take centre stage with Lily Blue one of the stern favourites,” she said.
The fate of the other races, however, remains in the air, as the Mashonaland Turf Club has opted for a more cautious approach to the resumption of the horse racing calendar.
“We are approaching it on a race by race basis, in accordance to the directive from the SRC.
“Each race is subject to approval from the sports commission, so we can give any detail in as far as the other races are concerned,” said Gurajena.
Horse racing remains one of the most followed sports in Zimbabwe but with a lot of caution being placed on health security, punters may have to be content with just having to bet online and away from physically watching their favourite horses in action.