GREYHOUND Racing Victoria has just conducted a thing called an Engagement Workshop, mainly to do with trialling tracks. We know that because a lengthy media release told us so. It is one of a series on various subjects and some 60 people attended, mostly trainers.
Apparently, everyone had a good time, ideas were exchanged and all the bosses congratulated each other on their initiatives – ie advancing the welfare cause.
But that’s all we know. We have no idea who said what, what the agenda was, what were the pros and cons of various options, what needed fixing, what conclusions were reached and what decisions were made about the future. The release was all waffle. No facts at all. Not one.
It reminds you of the Greyhounds Australasia quarterly meetings. Nothing is ever heard about the proceedings, bar the occasional media release of some drug matter, and even more occasionally, something about greyhound welfare. Everything else is a secret, but no doubt they had a good time.
Add this to my recent comments about the parlous state of industry statistics. Absolutely nothing can be relied on to guide us through a difficult period. Worse, highly inaccurate figures got through to the general public and the media and the code has been thumped mercilessly ever since.
Add it to the findings of the Working Dog Alliance which uncovered huge and previously unknown problems in industry culture related to welfare matters, including but not only live baiting.
Add it to widespread complaints about communication failures, as reflected in proceedings at the Special Commission in Sydney and the earlier NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Greyhound Racing.
And then there is the disguise of NSW euthanasia incidents (since fixed by GRNSW) and the related issue in Victoria where euthanised dogs are officially recorded as “retired”. No idea what happens after that.
Or the fact that Fixed Odds turnover for any meeting is never published, leading to a lack of knowledge of a vital ingredient in decision making at both authority and punter levels.
One reader even claimed that the Stud Book had serious gaps (although he offered no specific evidence).
Houston, we have a problem!
Clearly, secrecy and a lack of managerial integrity (and nous) are rampant throughout the industry. There is no other way to describe these practices than “We’ll tell you what’s good for you”.
How to fix it? A total reform of Ministerial oversight in every state and a shift to a management system which is genuinely responsible, transparent and accountable.
Pricing dominated by … what?
Well the Sapphire Crown and Harrison Dawson heats at Sandown certainly pulled in most of the country’s better dogs on Thursday night. And some of the diciest prices, judging by tote figures.
Folio Bale, after mixed form at Warrnambool, had no trouble running 29.31 from the inside box, paying $2.80 in NSW but only $2.00 in Victoria. Similarly, the all-powerful Blazin’ Bomber ran away from them in 29.15 from the same box. Its $2.00 and $1.90 prices were sensible, given its hot form. More surprising was the $2.50 bet about winner Shared Equity following mixed form at Cannington and Warrnambool. It ran down the popular Its All Talk which is possibly the first time it has ever done something like that.
Also at unders were Outside Pass at $2.10, which never had the figures to justify the short odds and ran fourth, Alpha Demeter at $2.60 in heat three which did not jump well enough, while Bucky Forty was too short at $2.70 in NSW given its poor box manners. Ditto for the risky but talented Unlawful Entry at $2.40 (NSW) or $3.00 (Vic) as it never looked likely after its customary modest jump.
A worrying issue was Major Jackpot in Race seven. A $3.40 favourite in Victoria, it led long into the back straight but then packed it in. It looked like a hobbled duck in the run to the post, finishing a distant 4th. Strangely, stewards failed to call for a vet inspection so punters will be none the wiser. Major Jackpot has a 29.12 run at the track in its kitbag.
A quirky situation arose in Race eight when Aston Bolero easily led Zambora Brockie, its conqueror in the Warrnambool Cup, running a very smart 29.36. Sadly, Dundee Osprey swamped both of them on the post and will move into the final.
The two distance races featured the usual suspects and produced the usual moderate performances. They contrasted sharply with many smart runs in the sprint heats. Of the fifteen 715m runners, only one – Ring The Bell – ran up to its recent form when winning in an ordinary 42.21. Every one of these dogs had raced in the previous seven days, some only four or five days ago. The club may be hoping some of them will turn up for the Sandown Cup heats this Thursday. In that case, I would steal a phrase from the Watchdog – look elsewhere.
By the way, while the Watchdog had only two winners for the night, it always had a significant influence on prices. Of course, we can’t be sure what happened with Fixed Odds betting because their turnover is never disclosed.
On top of that, the regular variations between Victorian and NSW prices continue to be annoying. It’s a real shame they can’t put the pools together. Tabcorp tried to do that a few years back, only to run into a brick wall in the shape of a previous NSW Racing Minister (and his advisers). Why cannot we revisit that proposal? Or, more to the point, racing authorities should be screaming from the rooftops about it as the code would gain huge benefits from a more reliable price list.
Since we are at this track, I am bound to advise on another strange comment.
Stewards Report, Sandown Race three, May 12.
“Sailaway Jackie crossed to the rail soon after the start checking Brazen Bomber.”
Absolutely not. Never happened. Brazen Bomber checked itself off the runner inside it. And Sailaway Jackie was never very close to the rail anyway. Stewards’ viewing angles continue to puzzle.