The Sunday Afternoon "Finish On"

January 31 was supposed to herald significant changes to Greyhounds Australasia's rule set yet implementation has been further delayed.

Peter Davis

17 April 2022

January 31 was supposed to herald significant changes to Greyhounds Australasia’s national rule set yet, due to Greyhound Racing Victoria operating on a unique IT platform (FastTrack) as compared to the rest of the nation (OzChase), implementation was delayed until May 1.

That uptake is just two weeks away and there’s still no clarity on whether GRV have been able to refine their systems to integrate very important, cross jurisdictional matters.

A case in point is the marring/failure to pursue the lure change which was brought to close attention at The Meadows on Wednesday when the wayward Spray On Billy – for the fourth time (at start 10) – incurred the wrath of stewards.

While a ‘postcode’ from the lure at his debut (behind Wow’s She’s Fast), Spray On Billy was hit with a marring charge.

Eight weeks later, failing to pursue the lure was the view yet a minor injury saw no stand down period imposed.

Another 12 weeks passed and Bendigo was the venue for his third indiscretion (FTP).

Just three weeks later, The Meadows episode resulted in a 90-days marring ban.

The new GA rules deal with dogs like Spray On Billy a good deal differently. In Victoria, marring charges have often been averted with stewards ridiculously asserting the individual failed to pursue the lure before marring.

The Victorian interpretation will not be tolerated in the new rules with marring becoming the primary charge should dogs fail to pursue the lure then mar.

NOT WAITING

While IT issues linger, NSW will uptake the new rules from 1 May regardless of what other jurisdictions chose to do.

NSW peak industry bodies agreed to this at a meeting on Wednesday in Bathurst.

Aside from the IT impediment, the industry will benefit from the rule changes. Some of the key aspects outlined are:

* The national rules have been comprehensively amended, with the new Rules a substantially shorter and simpler document. Most individual rules remain in effect, but there are some changes. The most significant changes for participants include

* Introduction of residue limits on some prohibited substances, meaning that no offence will be held to occur if the prohibited substance is detected at a level below the residue limit;

* Introduction of screening limits on some prohibited substances used for therapeutic purposes, specifying the level at which the presence of the prohibited substance becomes an offence;

* The commonsense changes to penalties for marring and failure to pursue;

* Changes to penalties for luring and baiting offences;

* Clarification of rules relating to betting to lose.

Changes to the NSW’s Local Rules are more extensive. These changes are designed to ensure consistency with the regulatory framework implemented in the Greyhound Racing Act 2017 and remove duplication between the Local Rules and the Greyhound Racing Regulation 2019.

The amended Local Rules in NSW also include three wholly new rules developed by the Integrity Commission. These are in addition to the two new local introduced in December (relating to pin firing and restrictions on breeding females). The Commission consulted both internally and with external stakeholders, including GRNSW, in relation to these rules.

They include:

LR22A – Abandoned greyhound; this local rule provides for the rehoming of a greyhound that has been abandoned by its owner.

* LR47A – Conducting continuous greyhound racing activities without NSW registration; this rule requires participants registered interstate who conduct greyhound racing activities in NSW for more than two months to register in NSW.

* LR166A – Lay betting; this rule places additional restrictions on lay betting (betting to lose).

REMARKABLE STATS

Remarkable statistics have been produced to illustrate the vast increase in short course racing since 2006.

Click on this link to see the national figures (2006-2021)

While there is more racing (on less tracks) since 2006, annualised races up to and 300m have leapt from 1135 (in 2006) to 1920 by the end of 2021.

Events from 400m to 499m have elevated from 15387 to 17506 yet the decline for all distances beyond 500m is dramatic.

NSW has been the primary offender (by means of having just about as many tracks as the rest of the country combined) yet facilitation is also a factor.

Take, for example, the ‘new’ distances at The Gardens (272m) Lismore (259m), and Casino (300m) – all three racing options are from starting points which were intended for stayers.

How it this a practical or welfare-minded consideration?

The addition of the 340m boxes at Bulli was made by weak willed decision makers at a time when prizemoney equalisation rewarded participation and not training nous. Was 400m just too far at Bulli?

Fortunately, when Grafton was revamped, the site was purpose built and injury rates at Grafton are industry-best outside of straight tracks.

Mandurah’s 302m was built specifically for racing purposes and is the mainstay of trials for young dogs while Cannington (built in 2014/15) utilises the Galaxy start (715m) for their 295m races and was designed for that outcome.

Trainers utilise Nowra’s 722m start for young pups – yet the 262m to winning post essay is never used for racing but remains an important educational starting point.

In the background, some are arguing for the inclusion of 300m boxes at Maitland but just would that outcome bring?

The ad hoc use of boxes (designed for stayers) for short course racing is a blight and properly considered programming by clubs in NSW is a must.

In Victoria, The Meadows and Sandown conduct no short course racing and the remeasure of The Meadows staying races to 730m (from 725m) highlights how little foresight there has been in allowing the short course racing to be upscaled without welfare consideration.

NEXT TIME

Just how far GRV are off the pace with their IT can be demonstrated by Sunday evening’s racebook for Sale.

The first race is blank … a fatal error occurred and has not been fixed.

Only little over a week back, for the Ballarat Cup race meeting the racebook was not available until the night before the meeting.

Under the previous CEO, a structural realignment resulted in GRV’s IT department being outsourced and its clearly failed to deliver, not only for GA’s new rules, but for punters.

These issues are not new and go back as far as October.

More on that next week!

AGENDA ITEM #1

While Sandown was the central focus in Victoria last week with Wow She’s Fast further enhancing her reputation in the Launching Pad decider, the victory brought to mind the prospect of her defending Th Phoenix title at The Meadows.

Though months away, The Phoenix will be high on incoming Chief Executive Scott Wuchatsch’s “to do” bucket list when he puts his feet under a desk at Broadmeadows on May 9.

The challenge for Wuchatsch and The Meadows decision makers is improve on The Phoenix v1.0 which failed to secure the best possible field available.

Qualification processes were in place in NSW (two), Queensland and WA and it will be interesting whether the clubs and controlling authorities retain slots or will The Meadows reach out to ‘corporate Australia’ in order to investigate new horizons.

NOT LONG NOW

An interesting week ahead for the corporate bookmaking world.

In January, a NSW punter had bets cancelled by a wagering operator after the dog had won, citing an error in pricing and relying on their Terms and Conditions.

The punter failed to get what he believed was a fair hearing from the regulator and Supreme Court action beckons.

A further dispute then arose (with the same entity) by means of a win bet at Ascot gallops late last month with $15,000 being the net return.

Mistakes can happen but yet $15 was offered about this galloper by three other Fixed Odds operators and it will be interesting to see whether the regulator again dismisses the appeal for payment.

On face value, this is unconscionable conduct and the regulator may well get the attention of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission if it cannot properly enforce its own rules.