Zahra cleared of COVID-19 26 Mar, 2020
Jockey Mark Zahra (Image: Racing Photos)
Star jockey Mark Zahra has been cleared of COVID-19 – clearing racing to return to Victoria.
It ends a nervous wait for the hoop and the industry after he was informed on Wednesday that he may have had contact with a Coronavirus case when he caught a commercial flight to Victoria on March 12.
Zahra, as well as other star jockeys Hugh Bowman and Tommy Berry, were tested as a precaution and racing was halted across Victoria and NSW. The duo were also cleared on Friday afternoon.
Zahra's negative test for COVID-19 paves the way for racing to resume at Warrnambool's meeting on Friday afternoon.
The Friday twilight meeting at Pakenham will also go ahead as planned, as will Flemington's jump outs on Friday morning.
Racing Victoria had planned to wait until the last possible second on Friday before postponing the Warrnambool and Pakenham meetings. Thankfully, Zahra's results came late on Friday night.
Zahra is not booked for any rides until the Golden Mile meeting at Bendigo on Saturday.
Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson said the "situation has placed undue pressure on Mark through no fault of his own".
"I want to again publicly thank and acknowledge the professional and responsible manner in which he has acted," Thompson said.
“Mark’s negative test paves the way for racing to resume in Victoria tomorrow and for this we are extremely grateful. We are acutely aware of the incredible hardship that many Australians are facing as at this time through the loss of their jobs, which is why we are continuing to work so hard to protect the livelihoods of all those within Victorian racing who depend on it.
“Victorian racing supports the equivalent of 25,000 full-time jobs through the employment of a vast array of people including trainers, stable staff, jockeys, breeders, vets, farriers, float drivers, administrators, officials and many more. At the centre of our sport is the horse and these people provide the critical care and attention that our horses require on a daily basis.
“In announcing the resumption of racing, I want to assure the Victorian community that racing will continue to operate under strict biosecurity protocols and where required act decisively, as we did when suspending racing yesterday, should there be any risk to the health of our industry stakeholders and the wider community.”