The Sunday Afternoon "Finish On"

IN just six days new Topgun Sprint and Stayers champions will be crowned at The Meadows on what promises to be a spectacular night of racing.

Peter Davis

31 October 2021

IN just six days new TAB Topgun Sprint and Stayers champions will be crowned.

Aston Rupee further enhanced his Sprint prospects with a stunning, near record 28.89 win at Sandown on Thursday yet the results did not impact on early wagering … because the box draw is yet to be conducted.

Wagering on the Stayers’ feature is a different kettle of fish with pre-post favourite Five Star withdrawn due to injury.

His scratching elevated Zipping Niseko into the select eight field, promoted Casus Beli from second reserve to first reserve and added Kenny The Brute in as the second reserve.

On face value it’s plain sailing but bets had already been struck (some will argue that it’s a ‘futures’ bet but deductions do apply and is for final field wagering) and integrity of wagering is at risk with the decision.

The early announcement of the field is, effectively, to allow interstate dogs time to travel and trial at The Meadows so why not conduct the box draw at the same time and make wagering more certain?

The final field was advertised as the final field. Wagering was conducted and then the field was changed. That’s just not how this works!

Do punters get a refund if requested?

The change in the field will immeasurably change the race pattern and, while I don’t get why anyone should be on any greyhound event without knowing the box draw, the fact remains that anyone who did bet did so on what is at hand – make-up of the field.

And what happens if the Stayers’ field falls away further? The prospect of that advances the dubious two-week lead in time from the field being selected to race day.

Another component is the racing calendar which has the Cranbourne Cup being conducted the weekend prior to the Topgun.

On Saturday, David Geall’s Koblenz snared the Group 2 Cranbourne Cup in fast time and had that series been decided a week back, there’s no doubt he’d have secured a Topgun Sprint position.

For now, he’s the second reserve behind Lala Kiwi.

The Cranbourne Cup is a race which should qualify a dog for the Topgun and the Geelong Cup (some years back) had been similarly problematic.

The Group race calendar is congested and all states need to address that yet GRV’s racing department really needs to provide the Topgun clear air (qualification-wise).

Ultimately this race’s integrity is at risk and, while trialling at The Meadows is important, it should be in any Topgun aspirant’s best interest to trial at the track on the presumption of securing a start – and that will promote the event.

The Five Star wagering fiasco needs to be a line in the sand and field announcements need to be conducted with a box draw and, for the Topgun, that’s on best conducted Hume Cup night.

THE NUMBERS

Greyhound Racing Victoria’s annual report was tabled in parliament on Thursday and the 88-page read won’t be dissected in just a couple of days.

What is stark however, is that GRV’s income reached a record $132.1m while total expenses came in at $121.7. On face value, GRV has money in the bank and the natives should be pretty happy.

But that’s not the case.

Projected income for FY 2020/21 was in the vicinity of $100m and Group racing prizemoney was slashed (the Sandown Cup previously was down from $175,000 to $50,000 for example) but the end play with Covid-19 turnover was that income skyrocketed.

Let’s do the maths! Budgeted income was just under $100m, the spend was $121.7 and income ended up at $132.1 … what is of concern is how did the budget get blown so vastly that a miracle windfall saved GRV from being technically insolvent in real terms?

Racing income came in 12 or so per cent higher than the previous financial year yet turnover accelerated though Covid-19 lockdowns – and that has been seen across the country. GRV increased meetings by nine percent, prizemoney by 14 per cent and total revenue lifted by 26 percent.

That had GRV asserting its marketplace position has improved but that’s really not the case.

And let’s reflect on the long-winded spat which the Victorian Greyhound Owners, Trainers and Breeders Association argued over prizemoney, track safety/preparation and participant fairness/respect.

For FY 2021/22 there has been a celebrated increase of $5.3m but that eleventh hour decision came after six weeks of mediation in which GRV were reluctant to ‘spend’ the vast income which participants worked for and deserved.

The metrics of the past 12 months cannot be denied.

Greyhound Racing Victoria paid out only 39.66 percent of income back to industry and that‘s just not good enough. It’s their lowest return (by percentage) to participants this century.

GRSA is hitting 60 per cent on lower income (and infrastructure costs) and GRNSW, in the very near future, will publish their accounts.

Comparisons will be made and GRNSW’s numbers might not look great at first glance but significant investment has been in make by that Board to ‘Future Fund’ greyhound racing and prizemoney increases commence on November 1 with a further upgrade on December 1 and again in February.

Operational costs at GRV have skyrocketed and the bush telegraph suggests restructure is ongoing.

The enormous staff levels at GRV are said to have pared back by something in the order of 10 per cent this week but staff considered ‘redundant’ won’t be off the payroll until the near year.

Greyhound racing is enjoying a quite stunning resurgence yet GRV still has has a task to provide participants with a fair return.

But to be fair at the same time it needs to act responsibly and be confident industry returns can be sustained for when the inevitable time comes and the Covid-19 wagering boon subsides.

UP AND RUNNING

After more than 18 months of planning and infrastructure spend there’s big news coming out of the central west in NSW.

The new Orana Veterinary clinic at Dubbo is now fully accredited with Greyhound Australasia and the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission.

From Monday, booking for frozen implants (FSI) can be made and stud masters have already been in touch with Rob Ingram, Orana’s principal.

“The practice is set up for all canine reproduction from progesterone testing, FSI and trans-cervical implants (TSI) are planned for the new year while cost saving packages targeting full breeding management will be on offer,” Ingram said.

“We are delighted that one the country’s most respected practitioners Dr. John Newell will implement all aspect of veterinary work and we are adding outstanding vets to the roster.”

Bulli Gold Cup winner Barcia Blue Boy will be the first resident stud dog but Orana intends to be a one stop shop for all breeders in the central west.

ON LINE

For those who are unable to attend, the funeral service for Paul Wheeler will be streamed live on Facebook from 11am on Monday.

Penrose Funeral’s website is the easiest pathway to follow https://penrosefunerals.com.au/services and it’s just matter of slicking Paul’s picture and following the prompts.