McDonald granted exemption to ride while in home quarantine

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Sydney's premier jockey James McDonald has been given a government exemption to ride at Newcastle this Saturday, as well as two meetings next weekend while he remains in home isolation.

NSW chairman of stewards Marc Van Gestel confirmed that McDonald – as well as Hugh Bowman, Kerrin McEvoy and Glen Boss – were all granted government passes to ride at three meetings over the next two weekends as long as they completed 14 days of quarantine at home.

James McDonald.Credit:Getty Images

But Bowman and McEvoy were both suspended during Cup week and have not taken up the offer, while Boss chose to stay in Victoria and ride here until the state borders are opened on November 23, by which point Boss will not need to quarantine in Sydney.

McDonald, who last rode at Flemington on Melbourne Cup day, has been booked for seven rides at Newcastle this Saturday, having returned home last Saturday.

"He was granted an exemption from NSW Health to isolate at home and that was subject to certain stringent conditions, that he can't leave his home unless he's going to ride at race meetings," Van Gestel said.

"We made an application for three race meetings – the first is this Saturday, the Hunter meeting at Newcastle, next Friday at Rosehill and then the Gong meeting at Kembla Grange next Saturday.

"They're the only three meetings he was permitted to ride at because he had to do five days back at home before he could actually return to race riding.

"When we made the application to NSW Health, we just said it was those three race meetings and they obviously performed the risk assessment and because it was only three meetings they obviously thought the risk was low and allowed him to ride."

McDonald leads Tommy Berry in the metropolitan jockeys' premiership race by one win.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Racing NSW said restrictions on horse movement between NSW and Victoria have also been removed.

"Effective immediately, Racing NSW has removed restrictions in respect to horse movement across the NSW/Victorian border and horses are now permitted to travel from Victoria into NSW directly to a racecourse or licensed premises, subject to government orders and the appropriate COVID-19 permits," the statement read.

"Persons transporting horses from Victoria must still follow all proper bio-security measures and ensure they continue to social distance at all times."

However, Racing NSW says participants without a NSW Health exemption "are advised that until 23 November 2020, all other restrictions that require persons to self-isolate for 14 days and undertake a negative COVID-19 test before attending a racecourse or licensed premises remain in place".

Meanwhile, Surprise Baby has not accepted to run in Saturday's Zipping Classic – a ride that Boss was looking forward to. Boss has been left with four rides including Etah James in the Sandown Cup and Galaxy Raider in the Sandown Stakes.

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