Sydney virus outbreak causing headaches for racing participants contemplating heading north

The 2021 Gold Coast Magic Millions plans for Sydney-based trainers, jockeys and owners remain up in the air as the Northern Beaches COVID outbreak creates increasing uncertainty for participants.

The Northern Beaches cluster, which has resulted in 83 new cases up to Monday, has seen parts of Sydney thrown into lockdown until Wednesday and border closures for NSW residents across the country.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk reintroduced a hard border between NSW and Queensland, which will prevent Sydney residents from coming into the state without special exemption.

It remains to be seen how long that will be in place and could potentially have a huge impact on if jockeys, trainers and budding owners hoping to travel to the state for the Magic Millions.

Hugh Bowman has Magic Millions bookings. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Leading hoops James McDonald, Hugh Bowman, Kerrin McEvoy and Jason Collett are just a few of the NSW-based jockeys hoping to head to Queensland for the January 16 raceday.

Sydney premiership leader McDonald has been locked in to pilot the likely favourite in the $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic however it is yet to be decide which Chris Waller-trained horse that will be.

Group 3 Breeders Plate winner Shaquero ($4.50 fav) and recent Magic Millions Wyong victor She’s All Class ($5) are the top-two in the market and McDonald has partnered both to last start victories.

He will partner Shaquero again on Boxing Day at Randwick, which will undoubtedly give the hoop an increased idea on which horse he will link up with on the Gold Coast.

She’s All Class won the Wyong Magic Millions with James McDonald aboard.Source:Supplied

However, McDonald could be forced to undergo 14 days of quarantine to take the coveted ride if border restrictions aren’t ease or a similar arrangement to the Spring Carnival isn’t available to jockeys.

Jockeys were able to quarantine for five days when travelling to ride in Victoria during the spring provided they adhered to strict health and safety conditions and passed COVID tests.

There is similar uncertainty for Sydney-based trainers and owners looking to head to the Magic Millions Yearling Sales to purchase new racehorses.

The Magic Millions Sale runs from Tuesday, January 12 until Monday, January 18 however industry participants usually arrive more than a week before the start date to inspect yearlings.

For that to occur in 2021, Sydney-based owners would need to go into quarantine in Queensland in the next week.

Luke Currie and Away Game combine to win the Gold Coast Magic Million 2YO Classic.Source:Getty Images

“It is the uncertainty which is the problem at the moment,” Sydney-based trainer Richard Freedman said.

“We know you need a certain amount of time to look at 1300 yearlings and you are usually going to inspect them more than once or twice.

“Few would be confident purchasing them without seeing them or just seeing them online.

“We’ve only got a small window of time between now and the sales.”

The coronavirus pandemic forced Inglis Easter Yearling Sale to go ahead online this year as a virtual sale.

Currently most NSW studs are largely unaffected by the Queensland border closures as they are based outside areas labelled COVID ‘hotspots’ and can apply for a Border Declaration Pass.

Meanwhile, Magic Millions confirmed late on Monday afternoon that the raceday and yearling sale would go ahead.

Originally published asCluster buster: Major players face Magic Millions uncertainty

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