Ruakaka trainer Chris Gibbs is philosophical about the impact a revised dates calendar will have on his business once thoroughbred racing makes its return to the track in July. The winter months are where Gibbs and training partner Michelle Bradley generally tend to make most of their headlines, dominating racing on their home patch which is recognised as a leading North Island winter venue.
With a good portion of the winter season lost to the Covid-19 lockdown and the revised dates calendar proposing the use of a limited number of venues that doesn’t include Ruakaka, Gibbs is trying to find some positives in the situation. “On the face of it, it is a blow as the reality is there will be no racing here for at least twelve months,” Gibbs said. “The winter is where our stable tends to shine and to not have racing here is tough.
“I understand they canvassed trainers throughout the country regarding options and the like but they never spoke to us as we would have tried to make a strong case for Ruakaka’s inclusion. “We know there are a good number of trainers that use our meetings to get their horses ready for the spring and they won’t have that option now so I would have thought that might have strengthened our case further. “I guess what we have to do now is sit down and work out what we are going to do and how we can work around what is in front of us.”
With that process in mind Gibbs and Bradley are meeting this week to work on just what their racing team will comprise of for the new season. “I think at this stage we will have around twenty to put into work,” he said. “A number of those will be younger horses as we do have a good bunch of two and three-year-olds coming through. “We will be speaking with our owners to get their thoughts as we know the situation is tough on them as well. “It is obviously not just racing that is hurting and there will be a number of owners that will not have the income to keep racing a horse so that will impact our likely team as well.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has also put on hold plans that Gibbs and Bradley had to take over the Logan Stables brand and business enterprise that is currently owned by ex-pat Kiwi and now Singapore- based trainer Donna Logan and her partner Peter Woods. “Michelle and I had been in talks with Donna and Peter about buying them out and the deal was pencilled in to go ahead on April 1,” Gibbs said.
“That has been put on hold now with Donna and Peter graciously letting us continue to operate how we have been until we can get back to normality. “We are hopeful we can sort out a deal further down the track but the way this virus situation has played out who would know when that might be.
“I guess the best way to look at things is that we have been pretty blessed in this country with how it has panned out to date and we haven’t seen some of the terrible scenes that others have been experiencing. “When you put it in that context, we should be prepared to make the best of what we have.”