IFHA: Owners A Chief Concern Internationally As COVID-19 Pandemic Continues

As racing jurisdictions around the world continue to wade through the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic, international authorities agree that one of the biggest concerns they have is keeping owners engaged during this unpredictable time.

The 54th International Conference of Horseracing Authorities concluded last week with its fourth and final digital session asking racing authorities to look to the future after a rollercoaster year that saw racing suspended or altered in most places.

The biggest theme across two virtual panels was a concern about whether owners would remain engaged during a time when their ability to attend races or workouts has been limited in most places. Economic hardship has come to many people of course, which may also factor into a reduced interest in spending money buying, racing, or breeding horses.

A shrinking international foal crop was already a worry, especially for places like Hong Kong, which relies completely on imports to sustain its racing population. The pandemic has put a more glaring spotlight on the potential ramifications of this continued shrinkage. Of course, the full effects of the pandemic can’t be felt for several more years, and panelists said they didn’t necessarily expect to see drastic changes for the 2021 foal crop. As the years go on however, tracks and regulatory authorities will need to make changes to keep field sizes sustainable and the wagering product attractive if the population shrinks.

Tracks which rely on high-attendance events should be particularly cautious of the future, also — it’s possible that even once a vaccine is developed for the novel coronavirus, some people may be wary of gathering in groups of thousands. Panelists from Britain and Hong Kong agreed that in the meantime, they believe it’s important to show customers stuck at home that they take public health seriously and to instill a sense of trust before they actually ask them to come back to the facility in large numbers.

Catch a replay of the two panels below.

The post IFHA: Owners A Chief Concern Internationally As COVID-19 Pandemic Continues appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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