Racing NSW’s chief steward Marc Van Gestel is confident Sydney’s COVID-impacted jockey room will be back to near capacity by the end of the month after Hugh Bowman became the latest to withdraw from the January Cup meeting.
Winx’s jockey Bowman and fellow rider Chad Schofield were forced to forfeit rides at Canterbury on Friday night and Rosehill on Saturday due to COVID-19 protocols, joining Schofield’s father Glyn, Regan Bayliss and Tommy Berry, who lost mounts at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.
Hugh Bowman is the latest Sydney jockey to be ruled out because of COVID.Credit:Getty
Brodie Loy and Louise Day also confirmed this week they had been stood down after returning positive rapid antigen tests.
The timing of the positive cases will be particularly challenging for Bowman and Berry, both of whom are due to ride at the rich Magic Millions meeting on the Gold Coast next Saturday.
Berry is due to ride $11 third pick Soaring Ambition in the two-year-old classic. The pair should be out of isolation in time to fly to Queensland.
But it has left NSW’s jockey ranks stretched for the return to racing at Rosehill, with Racing NSW asking all riders to undertake rapid tests at home and notify stewards of the results before each race meeting. Previously, jockeys would undertake the tests upon their arrival on course.
“I think we’ll be over the worst of it in the next couple of weeks,” Van Gestel said. “The jockeys have been notifying us in the morning whether they’ve come back positive or not and we go through the processes of isolation.
“It shows the system is working and potentially there would have been a number of jockeys entering the jockeys room [on Friday night] that would have been infectious then we’d have the whole room in trouble. This process is heading it off beforehand.”
Experienced jockeys Tim Clark and Josh Parr will make their return to the saddle at Saturday metropolitan meetings after a short holiday, while Rachel King will also ride at her first weekend meeting since recovering from the virus.
Bowman was due to ride Chris Waller’s So You Win in the listed January Cup, while Chad Schofield was aboard stablemate Criminal Code.
Godolphin’s Criaderas was a $3.90 favourite with Sportsbet on Friday after beating all bar Parry Sound home in the Summer Cup on Boxing Day.
Runaway premiership leader James McDonald is still scheduled to ride in the January Cup and will team up with Order Again ($6), one of seven runners for Waller.
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