What was meant to be a nice holiday in Hawaii last month for Nicky Chilcott turned into a frustrating three weeks of self-isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Cambridge trainer was expecting to be relaxing on the famed golden beaches of Hawaii but instead was forced to stay cooped up in her hotel room for a week before returning to New Zealand.
“We were overseas when it all happened,” Chilcott said.
“The first day we got to Hawaii it was fairly normal, but then after that everything just shutdown.
“All the beaches closed over there and you couldn’t go out for a drink.
“We got the first flight back that we could, which was five days later, and we were just locked in our hotel room. It was terrible.”
While far from ideal, Chilcott said she was lucky to fly out when she did because accommodation was beginning to become a worry.
“We flew out in the morning and that day the hotel that we were staying in shut their doors, so we didn’t know where we were going to stay if we couldn’t get out.
“It was a bit if a nightmare, but there are a lot more people worse off than what we were.”
Upon returning to New Zealand, Chilcott had to undergo mandatory self-quarantine for a fortnight and she said she would have been lost without her staff members.
“We weren’t allowed to go to the supermarket or anything. It was really strange to be locked in the house,” she said.
“A few of the people who work for me were great. We just text through our grocery order and they would just drop it off at the door and give us a toot when they left.
“We were really lucky, everyone was really helpful.”
With New Zealand set to enter Covid-19 Alert Level 3 at 11:59pm on Monday, restrictions on training are set to ease and Chilcott is looking forward to welcoming back just over a dozen of her racing team.
“I am very much looking forward to it, I missed it and I can’t wait to get back,” she said. “We will kick-off with 15 racehorses and we will have four to break-in.
Chilcott said her team have been spelling at her or her mother’s property over the last six weeks and they have enjoyed the break.
“I am lucky enough to have my own property down Racecourse Road, I have got 8.5 acres there,” she said.
“We can graze a few there. My mother owns 50 acres out at Okoroire, they have got a beautiful property out there so quite a few went out there as well.”
One stable runner Chilcott is looking forward to returning is in-form trotter Monkey Selfie, who won two of her last four starts before lockdown measures put an end to her season.
“A couple went out on good notes, especially Monkey Selfie,” Chilcott said. “The time off won’t do her any harm.
“It is always disappointing when they are in really good form and you have got to stop with them like that.
“She is the one I am most looking forward to getting back working.”
Harness racing is set to resume next month, with the first northern meeting set to take place at Cambridge Raceway on May 31.
Chilcott said that is an unrealistic target for her and other trainers who utilise public training tracks and she has eyed August as a more realistic target for her team to resume.
“The only people realistically that will be racing in the next months are those who have been on private training properties,” she said.
“Our horses would have had six weeks off by the time we start back again, so we are starting from scratch. It will be unlikely I will have anything racing before the end of the season.
“Most people on public complexes will be in the same boat. After a six week break they are generally a three-month turnaround to get them back.
“The new season is going to be my target and if we do get something before then that will be a bonus.”
Chilcott said the industry faces some trying times ahead, but it is important for industry participants to unite in order to get through them.
“We are looking forward to racing resuming and there is always the hope that we will be racing for okay money,” she said.
“That’s our biggest worry at the moment, but it is tough times for everybody and we have just got to band together and hope we come out the other end.” – Cambridge Raceway