Ballarat stable staff test positive to COVID-19 in midst of carnival

At least two stable staff at Ciaron Maher Racing’s Ballarat satellite have tested positive to COVID-19, according to multiple sources, sending shockwaves through the sport in Caulfield Cup week.

Trainers in Ballarat said they were aware that multiple staff members at Ciaron Maher Racing had tested positive and that Maher’s co-trainer David Eustace was isolating after being tested on Wednesday morning.

Trainer David Eustace is awaiting results of a second test.Credit:Getty Images

Racing Victoria stewards announced on Wednesday morning that jockey John Allen was unavailable for his Thousand Guineas day rides at Caulfield after he was also stood down and asked to get tested and isolate.

Allen told The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald he had returned a negative result to a rapid antigen test on Wednesday morning, but was still awaiting a second test result.

Industry sources familiar with the Ballarat situation said they did not believe the spring carnival would be jeopardised, but the COVID-19 positives had sent a significant scare through the complex.

The Melbourne Racing Club has not yet been briefed on the situation and is not certain that any of the staff who sources said have tested positive to COVID-19 attended Saturday’s Caulfield Guineas. Eustace was at the group 1 meeting on Saturday.

One Ballarat trainer said they received a government text asking them to get tested and isolate, but didn’t have any further information on when or where a possible exposure might have occurred.

When contacted by The Age, Ciaron Maher said he didn’t have enough detail on the COVID-19 positives. Eustace and the stable’s chief executive, Andrew Wiles, have not yet responded to calls for comment.

Maher and Eustace’s two Caulfield Cup runners, Explosive Jack and Persan, are both trained out of Caulfield.

Racing Victoria said it had been working with a Ballarat racing stable and the Ballarat Turf Club to manage a COVID-19 incident related to that stable.

“RV and the stable have today facilitated COVID testing of the stable’s employees and other persons identified through the industry’s contact tracing process,” it said in a statement.

“RV and the [turf club] are implementing arrangements to ensure that appropriate care and exercise can be afforded to the stable’s horses by designated staff pending receipt of those test results.”

Ballarat Turf Club chief executive Belinda Glass has not yet responded to calls.

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