The Sunday Afternoon "Finish On"

Thursday’s meeting at Dubbo between industry participants, GRNSW and GWIC with Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders had broad relevance.

Peter Davis

6 February 2022

Thursday’s quickly scheduled meeting at Dubbo between industry participants, Greyhound Racing NSW and the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission with Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders had broad national relevance.

The Department of Primary Industries Draft Bill (published for consultation) set out to ban frozen semen implants on all canines – not just greyhounds – and had the potential to decimate greyhound racing in NSW.

Fortunately, Saunders was on the front foot and, rather than provide an exemption for greyhounds, removed the FSI element from the Draft Bill’s scope.

Representations from GRNSW, GWIC, the Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers’ Association as well as the Dubbo Club – situated in Saunders’ own seat – got the job done but there is more devil in the detail in this draft proposal than banning FSI procedures.

One glaring inclusion is the limp wristed definition of a charitable organisation which will include the RSPCA, the Animal Welfare League or an entity which “has as one of its objects promoting the welfare of, or preventing cruelty to, animals or a class of animals or is a non-profit organisation having as one of its objects a benevolent, charitable, patriotic or philanthropic purpose.”

The racing industry, let alone greyhound racing, will never be free from attack.

The prospect of the NSW Government allowing any start up promoting a practice of benevolence, charity, patriotism or philanthropic purpose to gain traction defies belief.

Also under review by the DPI is the transport of dogs.

Under the provision, any person must not leave a dog unattended in a hot vehicle, or transport a dog on the tray of an open backed vehicle in hot weather unless some form of insulating material is available to provide protection from the hot metal surface of the tray.

While greyhounds are always transported in enclosed trailers or inside vehicles, the restrictions placed in flights in this COVID-19 ravaged economy, has seen road transport – which is not regulated – rise exponentially.

What the DPI needs to understand is the bio security issues which are associated with transport of animals and that’s something which should be under scrutiny.

The forthright move by Minster Saunders was important. Had the Draft Bill been enacted, the flow on affect, to other states, would have accelerated.

Anti-racing forces will never desist and while this crisis has been averted, the next attack will not be far away.

FUTURE FUNDING

While Dawson Park at Dubbo looks much like a construction zone for the moment, the expansive upgrade is just part of GRNSW’s investment in the future of greyhound racing.

The $5.5m spent on the new Grafton track (which included a state-of-the-art new kennel block), some $700,000 for the upgrade of Richmond (starts on February 14), Muswellbrook and Lithgow’s facelifts in addition to the rectification of the Thirlmere Trial Track are projects which assist all participants.

Goulburn is waiting in the wings for Ministerial approval for a new track (which will include an upgrade of the harness racing track) and that, hopefully, is only weeks away.

In addition to prizemoney increases in NSW, greyhound racing is going from strength to strength yet latest turnover figures from Racing Australia are confusing.

Below are Racing Australia’s turnover reports of all three codes (by state of wagering registration) and all sports betting for the past two seasons.

Noting that millions (M) rather than billions (B) should possibly head the 20/21 state-by-state revenue, the increase in WA greyhound racing wagering is staggering, if not unbelievable!

NSW is bubbling along nicely and the right investments are being made.

Victorians are in the midst of a dilemma around trialling opportunity and the closure of Cranbourne. Big spending is planned for Sandown, Sale, The Meadows and Ballarat.

Queensland participants have long waited for the new multipurpose facility at Yamanto in recent weeks, the Queensland Government has sought – as part of the ministerial process -s is requited to seek further public consultation and all Queenslanders participants need to get behind RQ and lobby the Palaszczuk administration to press on.

Also in the Sunshine State, a review of greyhound’s racing grading procedures is underway and submissions will close on Friday, March 4, 2022.

Input in sought on:

Order of entry;
Field selection methodology;
Guarding;
Mixed grade racing;
Race Classes and the Grading Ladder; and
Pathways and Masters racing.

There seems to be not a lot wrong with Queensland grading policy and a review might be best placed by looking at the allowance of ‘professional’ judgement to graders (in the makeup of fields) – something unique to Queensland.

It’s about transparency and the perception of fields being graded on times and not career performance or wins.

Fast tracks produce fast times and career PB’s tend to get attention when average times (if times at to be the yardstick) should be under scrutiny.

THE GA MATRIX

When first slated for change, Greyhounds Australasia’s (GA) new National Racing Rules were to be introduced from February 1 yet days prior to implementation May 1 was replaced as the adoption date.

A familiarisation period from Monday 13th September 2021 to Sunday 30th January 2022 was announced and that left January 31 in a racing vortex.

And so it happened, the opening race at Shepparton on Monday (yep, January 31) went this way:

GA’s amended ruleset runs 101 pages and much is par-for-the-course stuff – bedtime copy for insomniacs – yet the change to marring and failing to pursue the lure infractions were to be tightened and interruption of a wayward hound’s antics to defer more over to marring rather than FTP should both occur.

The Shepparton race could not come and a more (in)opportune time for the do-nothing, reactive GA Board.

In short, stewards deemed “Papalia Bale visibly eased approaching the home turn. Quest For More, Emerald Hill and Yulong Yap collided approaching the home turn. Quest For More visibly eased on the home turn checking Emerald Hill and Papalia Bale. Yulong Yap turned it’s (sic) head inwards entering the home straight. Quest For More turned it’s (sic) head outwards and marred Yulong Yap entering the home straight severely checking both greyhounds.”

Quest For More’s handler Brayden Klemke declined a veterinary inspection and Quest For More was handed a three month suspension from racing.

Yulong Yap was found to have an “abraded left stopper” and was given a three-day stand down for injury. And that’s also part of the problem! Three days was only going to deny trainer Ray Henness starting Yulong Lap within 72 hours (and he was not nominated anywhere) or provide leverage for marring or FPT to be passed over.

Papalia Bale was also given a three-day injury stand down (split webbing) previously marred at The Meadows on October 20 yet avoided the marring charge due to the vet’s meek finding.

Before racing again, Papalia Bale must trial to stewards’ satisfaction but this, really, should have been a strike two and suffer the same time sidelined as Quest For More.

Even Prince Of Idol, which finished a distant last in a horribly slow 38.82 over the 650m, was stood down for seven days (due to injury) when, moreover, his effort was just so poor, failing to pursue the lure was within scope.

The only positive out of the day’s opener at Shepparton was that the winner (Emerald Hill) certainly deserved victory and Brayden Klemke did the right thing by not looking for an excuse for Quest For More after his third wayward outing.