The Sunday Afternoon "Finish On"

FAMOUS Greek author and greyhound owner-breeder Aesop, back in 600 BC, was said to have coined the phase “Divided we fall, united we stand”.

Peter Davis

11 July 2021

FAMOUS Greek author and greyhound owner-breeder Aesop, back in 600 BC, was said to have coined the phase “Divided we fall, united we stand”.

In 2021, Aesop’s distant Victorian relations are living up to the truism with the Victorian Greyhound Owners, Breeders and Trainers’ Association standing firm in their resolve for better outcomes to industry from Greyhound Racing Victoria.

The Association’s call to participants to not nominate on for meetings at Cranbourne, Ballarat and The Meadows for July 3 was universally supported by the rank-and-file. No Victorian greyhound racing was conducted on that day.

GRV’s Board meeting on Tuesday will consider a GOTBA submission tabled this week which includes (but not limited to) prizemoney levels, participant welfare and track maintenance/infrastructure.

On Sunday, the GOTBA announced a potential second day of no greyhound racing in Victoria (July 22) should GRV not acknowledge and attend to the issues at hand.

“I am uncertain that key GRV personnel really grasp that discontent is no longer an undercurrent, that the time to change is right now … that participants have the resolve to make that happen,” GOTBA President Lynton Hogan said.

“We’re hopeful of good news on/after Tuesday, and real, publicly announced and unspun change but participants are ready to act if need be.”

Aesop is also credited with: “Great determination can overcome most odds.”

Make no mistake, the owners and trainers in Victoria have a steely resolve.

THE FY

With the end of the Financial Year, annual reports in all greyhound racing jurisdictions will soon paint a clear picture of how income and expenditure has balanced out for the past 12 months which has had Covid complexities.

At the outset, prizemoney decreases were budgeted for yet the stay-at-home, work-at-home edicts saw turnover skyrocket and forecast pain was supplanted by a financial windfall.

And it’s a portion of an additional $21m which has come the way of Greyhound Racing Victoria which the GOTBA urges to be put back into industry – not the bank or management costs.

GRV have budgeted for a state wide prizemoney increases but it’s from ‘óld’ money,

It’s mooted that GRNSW is viewing an increase in the realm of a 10 per cent upturn in prizemoney and, in Queensland, their excellent returns are also said to be heading north.

Unfortunately, not all states work on the same platform – NSW and Queensland have split regulatory and commercial entities, South Australia and Victoria are the same while Western Australia and Tasmania are somewhat similar.

Last week’s published tables showing average prizemoney per race had SA at $1526.16 but that did not include a Wagering Activity Payment of $2,919,000 or two Performance Reward Payments (totalling $2,000,000)

The actual return to SA participants (per race) for 20/21 was $2,727 – ahead of the Northern Territory and a mere $163 shy of Victoria’s return.

An interesting outcome would be to remove all Group racing prizemoney from every jurisdiction – and see how that cookie crumbles.

NSW would lose the Million Dollar Chase, Golden Easter Egg etc, Queensland the rich Brisbane Cup for example but Victoria’s Group races (in value) exceed all. The net figure would represent real average of ‘income’ on a week-to-week basis.

In NSW over the past few weeks, GRNSW has injected approximately $200,000 into prizemoney to support trainers who are unable to travel to Wentworth Park for ‘çity’ coin.

Another interesting outcome has been the abundance of nominations for races over ‘500m’ given the increased dollars on offer at that distance range.

Unintended it might be yet a blueprint for the resurgence of 500m racing is at hand.

GETTING ABOARD

Staffing numbers at GRV has been a discussion point with participants in the Garden State.

Just five years back, the full-time employees at Chetwynd Street totalled 88 yet, in recent times, the 200-mark may well have been broken.

On leading recruitment site Seek, GRV have seven positions advertised and include temporary roles for a Risk and Compliance Manager, Senior Project Manager Cybersecurity and a Business Engagement Manager while full time roles for a Senior Full Stack Developer, Senior Integration Developer, Veterinarian and an Assistant Track Curator at Ballarat track are being sourced.

Staff departures may well be the rationale behind the recruitment yet the luxuriance at this time will be stark to owners and trainers.

THE CARNIVAL IS OVER

The carnival may be over yet the past two weeks of racing at Grafton has showcased a track which all greyhound racing participants in NSW should be proud of.

On the score of nomination flow, demand has exceeded supply (of races) since the track’s return to on June 14 and, now, nine meetings have been conducted without an iota of complaint or issue.

Grafton has been such an iconic carnival, the very best in the country have made their way to the Clarence Valley Shire in July for generations yet this 2021 version is quite unlike what previous years were.

In the early 2000’s Grafton raced as much as 14 times in just 17 days on a grass track and trainers from as far afield Tasmania to Mackay in Queensland would arrive for the racing – and social shenanigans.

It’s a more sedate racing schedule now but John Corrigan and his team are not resting on their laurels.

Planned is a new grandstand which will complement the recently upgraded amenities facility.

A NSW Government grant emanating from a Development Fund (which is available to all venues in all codes) will be targeted but the club will also add finance to the project.

The new track has gained universal praise and the money spent is being returned to industry.

In just on one month, Grafton’s turnover (both pari-mutual and corporate bookies) has increased to the level that it now challenges the traditional top seeds in NSW turnover. Punters have really taken a shine to Grafton.

There’s time now for Grafton’s staff to take a breath but the visitors will arrive en masse in late August for of the Million Dollar Chase heats.

Queenslanders will make a beeline south and the folk who enjoyed success in the Sprinters Cup, Clarence Valley Sheds Maiden series etc will surely be back.

NEXT

With Richmond’s straight track and Grafton ticked off, GRNSW’s next project is at Goulburn.

The new track’s design is still a work in progress and a Development Application to the Goulburn-Mulwaree Council is hoped to be in place by September.

The Council has provided (in-principal) unreserved support for the project and, much like Grafton, the Showground circuit will be completely removed and a new one-turn track (akin to Murray Bridge) along with a straight track will be installed.

Distance ranges are to be finalised and the project, if Grafton is to be a yardstick, may take six months to complete.

Funding for the Goulburn refurb has been secured and, when racing does cease for the build, dates are expected to be shared between Bulli, Wagga, Temora and Nowra.

With Goulburn out of play, it’s expected that the Canberra track will look to increase capacity of trial sessions for trainers in the region.

YOUNG GUN

Overnight, the 2021 English Derby was secured at Towcester by the locally prepared Thorn Falcon.

The black dog, trained by Belgian-born Patrick Janssens thwarted a four strong Irish assault which included defending champion Deerjet Sydney.

The win was Thorn Falcon’s seventh at start nine and, by means of the seeding of box draws in England (and Ireland), he’s listed as a ‘middler’ thus allowing him to be gifted the outside alley for every outing.

This Derby win secured a massive £175,000 (A$325,090) for his syndicate of owners and it easily supplants the Irish Derby €115,000 (A$182,346) as the richest race in the region.

One of his two defeats came in the semi final round of the Derby series and he only just scrambled into the decider by edging series Group 1 Easter Cup winner Knocknaboul Syd when a well-held third.

A quick start in the final allowed for the lead to be secured early and there would be no catching the son of 2018 English Derby winner Dorota’s Wildcat in smart 29.06.

Interestingly, Thorn Falcon’s pedigree – on the fourth line – has an international influence with Kinloch Brae, Rumble Impact and Dave’s Mentor in the mix.

It’s much the same for all others in the rich final. All sires of finalists were Irish-bred and it won’t be long before another Frightful Flash of sorts is needed to reinvigorate pedigrees.

Australian breeders have, in recent years, turned to the US for outcrosses and it’s been a runaway success.

KC And All is making a Waverly Supreme-like mark and the need for Irish bloodlines may well be rendered to history.