MacMillan: Open Letter to Officials

Published: January 11, 2021 04:30 pm EST

We are in a pandemic. I get that. It’s the responsibility of government to make decisions that are in the best interest of its citizens.

At this point, the Ontario government has decided that horse racing is temporarily suspended. No one has the actual statistics as to how many people in this province have contracted Covid as a result of racing horses. My contention is that the number would be minuscule. I believe that number at Rideau Carleton is zero. Is it possible that at some point we may have a case? Yes, but let’s weigh the risks against the risks associated with an extended shut down.


There are two separate and distinct groups. There are those who still receive their regular pay through Covid restrictions and lockdowns and there are those who don’t. We as horse people are clearly the latter. Bad enough we don’t have income but we have significant expenses. Therefore, financial hardship is a harsh reality to most of us. In addition, many of us are experiencing physical and mental issues due to the stress caused by the current situation and the future uncertainty. On a personal note, I am stressed, I have difficulty sleeping, and I’m battling depression. It’s my opinion that these and other negative consequences of the shut down of racing should be carefully weighed against the risks of reopening under strict guidelines.

MPP Lisa MacLeod has this situation under her purview. Rideau Carleton, and the NCRHHA have a very positive and long standing relationship with Lisa. We intend to present our case to Lisa this week. We are very pleased that the decision has been made to allow NHL hockey players to begin their season this week - travelling in a large group from city to city to play a contact, non physically distanced sport. This should certainly pave the way for horse racing where our protocols have produced flawless results. In the actual race there is no contact and physical distancing of sort is a rule of our game.

A swift and safe return to racing would significantly improve the economic, physical and mental health for thousands of horse people not to mention the badly needed boost to a floundering Ontario economy.

John MacMillan

The views presented in Trot Blogs are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Standardbred Canada.