The Canberra Racing Club has been forced to slash prize money totals in a bid to protect the long-term future of the club. The Federal race conducted at each Thoroughbred Park meeting - which will be held behind closed doors for the foreseeable future - has been cut from $40,000 to $30,000. But club chief executive Andrew Clark has moved to protect the minimum prize money total of $20,000 in a bid to ease the financial burden on trainers and jockeys during the COVID-19 pandemic. The financial implications of the coronavirus outbreak has seen sponsorship money and wagering dry up, with the latter being the main source of prize money. Pubs, clubs and TAB retail agencies have been forced to close their doors, with the downward trend in wagering combined with a lack of catering revenue forcing Canberra officials to review prize money totals. MORE SPORT As such Clark has opted to cut back. The next meeting at Thoroughbred Park is scheduled for April 24 but the venue will be quiet enough to hear a pin drop with only essential personnel allowed through the gates. "It's been a very tough time. Our sponsorship and hospitality businesses are drastically affected by the restrictions in place. Wagering also appears to be affected," Clark said. "At the end of the day, we wanted to maintain minimum prize money, but felt that feature race, we did need to reduce that slightly to look after the long-term interests of the club. "We've taken a number of different measures as a racing club to firstly try to avoid reducing prize money and also with that long-term picture in mind. "We have stood down staff, both on leave or unpaid leave. We've also reduced all expenditure to just essential expenditure. "We're basically just in a holding phase to look after that long-term picture. We've undertaken a thorough review and we have got a plan in place. "We believe we will come out the back of it as a strong club." The Canberra Racing Club recorded a net profit of $904,482 from catering and sponsorship revenue throughout the 2018-19 period. That figure was expected to exceed $1 million in 2019-20 before COVID-19 sent shockwaves through the industry. MORE SPORT The club's function and convention centre was forced to cease operations on March 13 as officials geared towards patron-free race meetings. Only essential personnel are allowed at the track on race day, with jockeys and trainers keen to continue racing. "If we don't keep going, their chances of earning a wage basically don't occur," Clark said. "They support the fact we don't put their health or the health of their colleagues at risk either. If they felt we were doing that, we wouldn't press on. "Our biosecurity measures are extremely strict. We can continue racing. We've shown we've been able to run race meetings that don't put the health of the community at risk. "I am confident we'll be able to continue racing under the current guidelines. That gives the participants the chance to earn their own form of wages in terms of prize money. "That's why we didn't want to touch minimum prize money as well, because that's really the lifeblood of the industry."