The Sunday Afternoon ‘Finish On'

SATURDAY was Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year, a celebration which has particularly significant, deep cultural and traditional roots.

SATURDAY was Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year, a celebration which has particularly significant, deep cultural and traditional roots.

Also on February 10, heats of the prestigious Australian Cup were conducted at The Meadows and the series launched by add greyhound racing's Asterix New Year.

Yes, an Asterix needs to be added to The Meadows signature sprint as no interstate trained dog contested the eight heats while all eight Temlee aspirants on the same card (plus the two reserves) are Victorian-trained as well.

Certainly, Queensland superstar Jay Is Jay would have been a walk-up-start Temlee entry but he's injured and the race was what it was, won brilliantly by Explicit.

Offering $300,000 to the winner on February 25, the Australian Cup concludes just prior to the Perth Cup kicking off at Cannington and the Golden Easter Egg follows not too long after.

Less is more seems to be the mantra of trainers and, with time away from home and costs to account for, Group races are bottoming out to be contested by few visitors.

The Gold Bullion was snared in cracking fashion by Morton at Albion Park on February 1 but he was one of only two Victorians in the rich two-week series while no NSW-trained hounds were in the mix.

Victorians are unlikely to head to Perth en masse for the Cup and Galaxy (715m) due to the vast journey and beating the locals on their own ‘dung hill' is never easy.

The Launceston Cup is a case in point – Fast Minardi and Raider's Guide are high class and any interstate raider would have struggled to snare the $60,000 prize but for there to be no interstate interest in a $300,000 first prize is quite extraordinary.

Self-interest at state level (akin to Racing NSW v Racing Victoria) drives every aspect of programming but Greyhound Clubs Australia needs to take a good look at how member clubs are devaluing feature races reputationally.

The way it is now, no one wins.

SCAM CENTRAL

From biblical times, the love of money has been considered "a root of all kinds of evil" and greyhound racing is not immune to the deeds of scoundrels.

A commonly used scam is the off market (not stud master) sale of frozen breeding units and Greyhounds Australasia is aware of ongoing attempts to deceive participants into purchasing breeding units (frozen semen) that either do not exist or are not genuine.

The online world is one of trading trust and vigilance is a priority when answering any ‘for sale' or ‘wanted' advertisements on well-known greyhound websites or social media forums.

Best practice is to not transfer any funds or provide details of breeding units without confirming the identity and legitimacy of the individuals they are dealing with – that can be done by a quick phone call to Greyhounds Australasia.

GA can confirm the authenticity of any breeding unit yet a further important step is to contact their local controlling body to confirm if the ‘seller' is legitimate and, if not, report any activity believed to be suspicious.

The trust element works both ways, however. Advertisers should also be mindful of the amount of information disclosed on websites or social media channels.

GA is aware of cases where purchasers have struggled or been unable to recover money when they have been defrauded. These cases have been referred to industry regulators and federal scam authorities but the recovery (of money) is difficult and time consuming.

An alternative would be to initiate an escrow process (via regulators) where breeding units are transferred following secure receipt of funds with the bona fides of the seller being guaranteed.

While on breeding, GA is conducting an audit to review the greyhound frozen semen (breeding unit) database.

The review has identified that over 20 percent of the stored breeding units are more than 10 years old (date of collection) and they will be contacting owners regarding the intention of use for the breeding units.

In the short term, breeders might be best advised to contact GA to ensure their own details are up to date and, at the same time, ask for a list of all units owned (including those under 10 years) and the GA-approved storage location at which they are located.

CHANGED UP

This year's change to Australian Cup Carnival has altered tack regarding their select sprint, middle distance and staying events on cup heat night.

A review found that moving the G1 Rookie Rebel (600m) away from the G1 Temlee specifically allowed dogs which have not qualified for the Australian Cup to target the longer trip.

This year, the Rookie Rebel field will be selected after the Australian Cup semifinals have been decided and therefore trainers will have the choice to contest a G3 Cup Consolation (525m) or the G1 600m feature for the first time.

Changes to the Australian Cup carnival should lead to a bumper Rookie Rebel

Potentially, this might see a dog win the Temlee (February 12) and the Rookie Rebel or do the Zoom Top/Rookie Rebel double in the same year but the task is frightening.

Importantly, this Rookie Rebel should now be the strongest it has ever been and a real contender will be Tassie star Raider's Guide.

He was awesome in a record breaking 29.21 win at Launceston on Monday while his next stop is Hobart on Tuesday over 461m where he will start $1.01 to add to his 24th win at start 50.

The 11-day lead into the Rookie Rebel is ideal for Raider's Guide and, should Hume Cup winner Hector Fawley not make the Australian Cup decider, a return clash with Gary Fahey's star will be worth the price of entry alone … Oops, that's free!

SIDELINED

While touching on Jay Is Jay, his scratching from Albion Park's Gold Bullion came as a shock but Mick Zammit, on race night, said the family's decision to miss the race was easy in the end.

"The toe issue is not serious but the head rules the heart in these circumstances," the vastly experienced mentor said.

"He's got plenty of racing ahead of him and we are hopeful to have him in peak condition by the Golden Easter Egg time."

It could be argued the sprinting ranks in NSW and Queensland are not as deep as they have been yet the scale of excellent prize money has diminished the need for trainers to travel vast distances.

Making hay while the sun shines should be the mantra for those with aspirations of black type success.

Superstar Queenslander Jay Is Jay

Year on year, turnover on the dogs is down approximately 15 per cent nationwide right now and some budgetary belt tightening is surely being investigated.

GRNSW has an expansive USA export program up and running yet costs incurred are just 50 per cent higher than Victoria's – surely a metric which must contract.

Savings must be made across the board and rank-and-file race prizemoney levels should be a last resort.

GOING, GOING …

News that four pups from the Fernando Bale – She's A Pearl litter will be up for grabs at the upcoming Richmond Puppy Auction attracted plenty of attention mid-week.

The inclusion of the bluebloods is a real boost for the auction's profile but, with that, comes expectation around price and what the marketplace is prepared to pay for any pup, let alone a She's A Pearl youngster.

While a minimum bid process has been in place for some time in recent NSW auctions, maybe consideration of a published price guide is worthy.

Four of She's A Pearl's pups will go under the hammer at the May Puppy Auction

A price guide in the real estate market, at least, gives prospective purchasers an insight into affordability but it must be done in a measured way.

If for example, a breeder places a $10,000 price guide on a pup which is more like a $5000 offering, the day can fall flat before it starts.

GRNSW has gone back to the future in this venture and its first iteration must cross every T and dot all I's.

GOING: GOOD

Was interesting to watch the Casino meeting on Thursday was conducted amidst steady drizzle-like rain following a decent overnight downpour.

Said conditions at other venues in recent months – in NSW and Queensland – have caused meetings to be abandoned so it was a welcome sight to see persistent rain not be the rationale behind a meeting's abandonment.

A STATE OF FLUX

Ray Murrihy's report into harness racing in Tasmania has already had wide implications with Tasracing's decision to warn off four participants parlaying into Friday's Burnie harness meeting being abandoned.

Tasracing first received the Murrihy Report on January 31 and recommendations into regulatory matters in the Apple Isle will impact greyhound racing.

It is understood Tasracing will take control of integrity and welfare outcomes (from the Office of Racing Integrity) in coming months but legislative change is required for that.

It may be as far away as July 1 for change to be in place yet the restructure to be in place and the prospect of a state election being called (in the short term) is real.

An election would place the Liberal Government into caretaker mode and the next election (with 35 lower house seats) could have a predominance of independents and, therefore, a minority government.

Change from ORI to Tasracing in respect of greyhound racing can only help greyhound racing's governance but the structure and personnel must be much stronger than it has been in the past decade.

Seven head honchos of ORI have come and gone in the past eight (or so) years and the revolving door must be stopped.

Seems like everyone knows what the problems are, it's just a matter of making good decisions – along with significant appointments to key roles – now.

NO EASY FIX

A key recommendation in the Murrihy Report relates to field size for harness events so that no trainer cannot have more than 50 per cent of entries.

Team driving tactics cannot, however, be mitigated by restriction of numbers – it merely places the conduct out of a punter's gaze.

Collusion amongst participants in all three codes to contrive an outcome is a real focus for integrity officials but they have the investigative powers to quickly search all betting records and no one should be shocked about the access to wagering stewards have.

COLOURED FOR A CAUSE

Expect some unusual race names at Gosford, The Gardens and Maitland in March courtesy of GWIC's Hunter Valley-based steward Steff Richards.

Richards has gone all-in to support the Leukaemia Foundation's World's Greatest Shave by adding a rainbow perspective to her blond hair and the result has turned heads.

The Foundation's annual fundraiser is a national program which assists the many folks who suffer from not just leukemia but alsolymphoma and myeloma and Steff's effort deserves the full support of greyhound racing's faithful.

Leukaemia Foundation's World's Greatest Shave has been running for just over 25 years and was kicked off by Lismore's Graydon family following Eric Graydon's acute myeloid leukemia diagnosis.

Bloodborne diseases are all too common in society with Newcastle trainer Eileen Robertson dying of leukemia only last month.

In some small way, Steff's fundraising is a tribute to Eileen. It would be touching if winning owners or trainers of sponsored races could be generous enough to put a few dollars aside for Steff's cause.

Every dollar counts!

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