Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel is confident the COVID-hit Sydney jockhouse will be back to near full capacity by the end of the month after Hugh Bowman becomes the last to withdraw from the January Cup meeting.
Winx Bowman jockey and fellow rider Chad Schofield were forced to forgo races in Canterbury on Friday night and Rosehill on Saturday due to COVID-19 protocols, joining Schofield Glyn’s dad, Regan Bayliss and Tommy Berry, who have lost mounts at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.
Brodie Loy and Louise Day also confirmed this week that they had been suspended after returning rapid antigen tests positive.
The timing of the positive cases will be especially difficult for Bowman and Berry, both of whom are due to attend the rich Magic Millions reunion on the Gold Coast next Saturday.
Berry is expected to ride third pick to $ 11 Soaring Ambition in the two-year classic. The couple are expected to come out of isolation in time to fly to Queensland.
But that left the ranks of NSW jockeys stretched for the return to racing at Rosehill, with Racing NSW calling on all riders to perform quick home tests and brief marshals on the results before each race meeting. Previously, the jockeys carried out the tests when they arrived on the course.
“I think we will go through the worst in the next few weeks,” said Van Gestel. “The jockeys informed us in the morning whether they came back positive or not and we go through the isolation process.
“This shows that the system is working and that there would potentially have been a number of jockeys entering the jockeys room. [on Friday night] that would have been contagious so we would have the whole room in trouble. This process gives him advance warning.
Seasoned jockeys Tim Clark and Josh Parr will be back in the saddle at Metropolitan Meetings on Saturday after a short vacation, while Rachel King will also attend her first weekend reunion since recovering from the virus.