Tales Of NSW Greyhound Racing’s Glory Days As Gov Launches Review

BARRY Colless pines for greyhound racing’s good old days.

The New South Wales based trainer, who is a welfare officer with the Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association, misses the characters of the day.

And, at 75, with “42 or 43 years” in the business, he’d know a thing or two.

“I grew up with some of the characters in Sydney and you don’t see them today,” Colless told Australian Racing Greyhound.

“They looked after their greyhounds, they did things with their dogs that they don’t do today, you don’t rub the dogs down and massage ’em and brush ’em these days.

“Back then, they always looked a picture.

“There was the old saying: you always picked the old bloke with the hat.

“You always backed his dog, any old bloke with a hat who walked onto the track with a dog that looked the picture, you backed his dog.

“And sure enough, up he’d get up.”

With the New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing announcing plans to review the Greyhound Racing Act 2009 to ‘determine whether the policy objectives of the Act remain valid and whether the terms of the Act remain appropriate for securing those objectives’, Colless says there is plenty of scope for change in the industry.

“They need to make changes, I know that, but what changes they’ll make is another thing,” Colless said.

“I’ve read about the inquiry. At least the government is taking a look.”

Mr Colless said issues with grading and lack of prize money had hurt the industry in New South Wales, forcing many trainers to send their dogs south.

“It’s a very good sport, and it’s a shame the way it’s going,” he said.

“Grading’s the biggest issue.

“I used to do a bit of grading in the non TAB stuff and I thought that was pretty fair, but I think it’s a personal thing.

“I think now they just sort of set the guidelines, put it through a computer and forget it, but equal opportunity is what you are after.”

He said Greyhound Racing Victoria set the benchmark.

“We just want to improve our sport and get better prize money,” he said.

“I think Victoria, they’re going (ahead) in leaps and bounds. They get a lot of money from the government.

“And now we’re trying to get the government up here to do the same thing. They take so much out of the dollar and they take too much out.

“Vic dogs get a better deal than we do.

“Lots of our guys (New South Wales trainers) send their dogs down there because there’s more prize money.

“No wonder we’ve got a shortage up here.

“I remember when all the dogs used to come up from Victoria to Wentworth Park, you’d back the Victorians. And I can’t answer that one now, because they never come here.”

You could sit and listen to Colless talk for hours.

His aging voice tells tales of yesteryear, like they happened yesterday.

“I’m glad I got introduced to it (greyhound racing) by accident,” he remembers.

“I met a lady – who I later married – and my father in law got me interested in dogs.

“I’ve had no disappointments whatsoever.

“You get good ones and bad ones, but you’ve just got to put up with that, you can’t all have good ones, but you can always have one at the track, you can always compete.

“It’s all money now, there’s too much greed today.

The most dogs he’s ever had under his care is four.

He now has “just the two”, as arthritis in his hands makes it tougher to look after the dogs, and he does all his own vet work on his animals, picking up the tools of the trade over the past four decades.

“I learnt the hard way from old trainers and I still believe in it,” he said.

“I’ve only got two. You can’t spend the time with them if you have any more.

“I can’t understand blokes with 20 dogs.

“They just don’t have the time to do it right.”

Snow Shiraz is his darling at the moment, with two wins at Wentworth Park and a recent second at Gosford.

“He’s a very honest dog and he’ll make a bloody good pet when he eventually retires,” he said.

“A beautiful dog.

“I’ve had a hell of a lot of winners, I can’t complain.

“I’m not making a million, but I’ve got a little bit of money put away.”

Barry Colless with wife Judy

Next time you’re at the track, and you see the old fella with the hat, with a dog that looks a million bucks, it’ll probably be Barry, ready to send his next winner home.

UPDATE

More details have emerged about the review into the NSW Greyhound Racing Act, 2009.

A spokesman for the New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing said the move was a five year statutory review.

Under the legislation, the Minister for Racing is required to review the Greyhound Racing Act to:

  • Ensure objectives of the Acts themselves remain relevant.
  • Review established governance models to ensure that mechanisms to control and supervise greyhound and harness racing are best practice effective and fit for purpose.
  • Reviewing mechanisms for stakeholder input.

The spokesman told Australian Racing Greyhound the reviews and any recommendations would be tabled in the NSW Parliament by May, next year.

The spokesman said the OLGR had produced a discussion paper to help people make submissions on the review.

We previously reported it was available on the OLGR website, but it is set to be published in the near future.

“The discussion paper poses questions about matters of specific interest, however comments or suggestions may be made on any aspect of the industry,” the spokesman said.

“Advertisements seeking suggestions to improve greyhound racing are also scheduled to be placed in the media to widen the recruitment of ideas.

“OLGR invites individuals and organisations interested in the review to make submissions.

“All submissions will be treated as public and may be published as part of the review report, unless advised by the person making the submission or it is determined during the review that all or part of a submission should be treated as confidential.”

The closing date for submissions is January 31, 2015.

 

  • Australian Racing Greyhound has contacted the New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing for comment on the review.
  • In a statement on its website, Greyhound Racing New South Wales wrote the Act under review “principally provides for the constitution of Greyhound Racing NSW as the industry’s controlling body, the functions and the powers of that body, the constitution of an industry consultation group (GRICG) and the appointment of a Greyhound Racing Integrity Auditor.”
  • The full Act can be viewed at the NSW legislation website legislation.nsw.gov.au.
  • A discussion paper prepared to assist submitters with the preparation of their contribution to the review can be accessed at the OLGR website olgr.nsw.gov.au or a copy can be requested via email at [email protected]
  • OLGR has invited interested individuals and organisations to make written submissions to the review. Submission should be sent to: The Coordinating Officer, Greyhound Racing Act Review, Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, GPO Box 7060, SYDNEY NSW 2001 or  [email protected]
  • All submissions will be treated as public and may be published as part of the review report, unless advised by the submission maker or it is determined during the review that all or part of a submission should be treated as confidential.
  • The closing date for submissions is January 31, 2015.