The Sunday Afternoon "Finish On"

Greyhound Racing Integrity Ireland is an entity few on these shores would have knowledge of yet it’s their advocacy which sets it apart.

Peter Davis

24 April 2022

GREYHOUND Racing Integrity Ireland is an entity few on these shores would have knowledge of yet it’s their advocacy and focus which sets Irish greyhound racing apart from what transpires in Australia.

For decades, Irish greyhound racing participants have been persecuted by anti-racing activists (which purport as charitable entities) yet a line in the sand was drawn and the constant, outrageous lies (e.g. the Facebook post below) are now being tested in Irish courts.

Rubbish: A typically uninformed anti-racing activist’s view of greyhounds. Source: Facebook

And in England, the Charity Commission is also investigating whether individuals connected to the charities have benefited inappropriately from its work.

Make no mistake, Australian racing is richer (financially) by a significant margin than their Northern hemisphere cousins yet what GRII does for the code puts Greyhounds Australasia to shame.

Greyhounds Australasia came into being as the Australian and New Zealand Greyhound Association in 1937 with an intention to register greyhounds (by name), produce an annual stud book and develop National Racing Rules.

In 2022, GA continues to name sapling greyhounds and new national rules come into play on May 1 but its lack of advocacy, incapacity to promote/protect and ineffective structure manifests poor outcomes.

Time has come for GA to be reinvented.

85 years have passed since the ANZGA was put in place and the structure has not changed. In society and business, static functionality is a death sentence in this modern world and the challenges ahead are not within GA’s capacity as it stands.

Decision making becomes a ping pong match of sorts without a winner. GA, in the past has washed its hands of responsibility and deferred to member jurisdictions and, in a perverse alternate universe, the member jurisdictions then blame GA for inaction.

The end result is a complete lack of transparency, timely decision making and accountability.

All three racing codes have similar structures yet not one provides a reliable model to emulate.

Racing Australia has been in the news in recent weeks with their own internal turmoils, Harness Racing Australia has a history of instability but seems to be on a better path these days out of absolute necessity.

Had HRA not ‘come together’, their future was in peril and that’s the underlying need for GA to realign and be as proactive as the Irish and reinvent itself.

GA’s incoming Independent Charmian Robert Vellar arrives with the opportunity to make it the best it can be.

During Covid-19, society was immersed in varying requirements (re vaccinations and border lockdowns) and the fundamental difference from state to state was impossible to regulate.

More basically, in regards to greyhound racing, Tasmania and New Zealand (both members of GA) ceased racing due to Government mandate in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic while it was business as usual elsewhere.

Where was GA in this time of crisis?

What structure a new entity might take is up to GA itself but a Commission-like organisation (e.g. AFL and NRL) seems to work with agility.

The cost of GA operation would be taken up by member states and the savings might not be dramatic but the cost to not get this right is far greater.

Advocacy should be GA’s starting point and evolve from there. States deserve to have a seat at the table but the decisions made must be in national interest and override state sentiment.

Over to you Robert Vellar and your Board of Directors!

ON TRACK

Just how well the Irish greyhound racing community has banded together is impressive.

In Ireland, the GRII has a charter to: “Promote Honesty, Integrity and Equality in Irish Greyhound Racing” and the not-for-profit entity is of the people and for the people.

On Friday, the popularity of greyhound racing in the Emerald Isle was tangible at Limerick. The gathered throng (below) is testament to the code’s popularity.

Packed: Con and Annie Kirby Memorial night at Limerick

Successful Irish businessman J P McManus sponsored the night’s feature – the €80,000 ($A119,271) to-the-winner Con and Annie Kirby Memorial won by outstanding juvenile Swords Rex in a fast 28.27 seconds.

Swords Rex is a $34 chance for the Irish Derby at Shelbourne Park in September. At his only start at Dublin’s premier venue, Swords Rex was luckless when a close second in a smart 28.32 on February 26.

Previously, he’d trialled (solo) at Shelbourne Park over 525 yards, registering 29.41 seconds on track officially raced as .30 seconds slow.

Just why tracks in this country are not rated in respect of average (winning) times defies belief.

Cross promotion of racing in Ireland has been on going for nearly 100 years (as per the pics below).

Maybe, one day, we can catch on to the way the Irish do things.

Then and now: 11-time G1 winner Honeysuckle with the brilliant 2021 Puppy Oaks, Sporting Press Irish Oaks winner Susie Sapphire. Below is Five-time Gold Cup winner Golden Miller with the greatest track greyhound of all time English Derby 1929 and 1930 winner Mick The Miller.

THEY’RE BACK

The lack of trialling opportunity has really hindered trainers in south east Queensland since late February and it was great to see Capalaba back racing on Sunday.

The hard work and dedication of the committee and staff was rewarded as Greg Stella’s brilliant Black Commanche posted a stunning 6 ½ lengths win in 19.36, just two lengths outside Leeroy Rogue’s long standing track record.

Importantly, he meeting does have an annotation of wind assistance and Black Commanche did have a 9kph tailwind assisting.

From the opening race, the wind assistance varied from zero to 10kph (as per the results) but that does not translate to race books.

Wagering is the lifeblood of all racing and track condition (or wind assistance) is an integrity element which is being sorely overlooked on these shores.

DIFFERENT VIEW

The country’s worst camera angle for (for the finish) in any racing code belongs to the greyhounds at Callaghan Park in Rockhampton.

Work commenced on a new facility following the March 30 meeting at Rocky and a replacement tower (at the finish line) will house the photo finish, judge, broadcaster, lure driver and steward.

Meanwhile, an even more difficult viewing perspective has been thrust on punters and the partial fabrication of a new semaphore board (I think) partially obscures the old semaphore.

The temporary placement of the video camera is just awful and let’s hope the decision makers at Racing Queensland get this right in the first instance.

MISSING OUT

News coming out of Victoria is that two meetings per week (Healesville on Tuesday and maybe Sandown’s Sunday offering) will disappear from the racing calendar shortly.

Small fields have beset Victorian programs in recent times and racing population is spread just a little too thin and something had to give.

A case in point was last Wednesday’s Ballarat meeting when only 10 nominations were received for a VicBred Maiden series over 450m.

The VicBred offer increased prizemoney and trainers target this opportunity with newcomers.

At Ballarat, however, the only two unraced youngsters were not drawn when the grading department deemed to run only one maiden (due to insufficient nominations).

No favouritism here, the grading priority has debutants ranked below last start placegetters, dogs with just one start and then dogs with two race starts – thus ranked fourth in eligibility.

Normally, that failed to ruffle feathers but it’s plainly wrong for VicBred races and needs to be reviewed.

Interestingly, the winner of the VicBred race Sekola was for a 390m race and, as a $43 chance, snared connections $7750 plus a $1000 bonus.

So Sekola gets the bikkies in a race trainer Alice Peat really was not interesting in contesting (when nominating) yet two newcomers set for the contest missed out.