WHILE COVID-19 restrictions are easing, Manning Valley Race Club chairman Greg Coleman said it is still too early to call if patrons will be allowed to attend the Taree Gold Cup Carnival in August.
Initially the club was preparing for a carnival sans spectators.
However, racehorse owners were allowed onto metropolitan tracks earlier this month while club members were given the green light to go on course last weekend.
Mr Coleman stressed this only applies for the metropolitan area.
"And the members have to register their intention to attend the meeting beforehand,'' he added.
"At this stage nothing has changed with country race meetings. We're still under strict biosecurity guidelines.''
Mr Coleman hasn't been to the Bushland Drive track since the restrictions were put into place. There are also stringent guidelines that have to be followed for each meeting. Jockeys and trainers have to leave the track when their commitments are finished.
"But at least we're still racing,'' Mr Coleman added.
"If that's what is required to keep the industry going, then so be it.''
Mr Coleman hopes that by August more restrictions will be eased.
"We'll just have to wait and see, if there's no spike in infections that could be the case,'' he said.
However, he said the Clarence River Jockey Club is preparing for the rich July Grafton Cup Carnival to proceed without spectators.
The Taree Cup Carnival will be run on Friday August 21 and Sunday August 23. The 2000 metre Taree Gold Cup is scheduled for the Sunday.
Mr Coleman expects prizemoney for the carnival would be 'back to normal levels' by August. Last year's cup carried record prizemoney of $100,000.
There are restrictions on jockeys travelling to meetings. Manning Valley Race Club is in the northern zone that stretches from Newcastle to the Northern Rivers Racing Association. If this stays in place it would mean that champion hoop Tommy Berry, who rode the favourite Hogmanay to win the cup last year, wouldn't be able to return this August. Berry only had the one ride here last year.