Collins says hoop arm is pointless when used with the pen

PROMINENT Victorian conditioner Geoff Collins has labelled Greyhound Racing Victoria’s decision to introduce the finish-on style lure as ‘pointless’ unless the authority body abolishes the traditional catching pen.

GRV announced that the ‘hoop’ arm lure system will be deployed at all greyhound racing clubs throughout the state, with the style of the lure proven to have aided congestion issues and improved dog safety throughout the race.

However, rather than greyhounds catching the lure at the end of the race, like they do in New Zealand, runners will still finish each event into the catching pen.

While appreciating that efforts to reduce injury are vital, Collins believes another major issue is not being addressed – chase.

Collins believes allowing dogs to catch the lure at the end of each race would dramatically improve failing to pursue statistics, which have been on the rise in recent years since the use of food rewards and animal by-products including wool were banned for the use of training greyhounds.

“I don’t see that there is much benefit at all,” Collins told Australian Racing Greyhound.

“I think if they are going to introduce it then they need to allow the greyhounds to finish onto the lure.

“Currently we have problems with dogs chasing, you see it all the time and there is a lot of support growing for the finish on lure.

“To bring on the finish-on style lure, but have the dogs still run into the catching pen – it’s a waste of time.

“There have been massive changes in this industry and we all support them and the direction the industry is moving forward ethically.

“But the problem is we haven’t replaced it with anything – we aren’t stimulating the dogs’ chase factor.”

Collins explained he conducted his own research on the use of the finish on lure when it was being used in Queensland and found that dogs were chasing much harder.

“I did some studies on the six years they had the finish on lure at Albion Park and the two years after when using the catching pen.

“Based on my figures it showed that the number of unsatisfactory tickets dropped by a massive amount and then in the two years following that using the hybrid version – which is what we are going to have – they were much higher.

“We went to Albion Park a few years ago and watched how they finish on. I remember Velocette jumped on the finish on lure giving it a hammering and another bitch was standing back – she wouldn’t go in there – but she was wagging her tail and she was still involved with the pack.

“Each of those dogs both got their stimulation in a different way – but they both caught their quarry and were part of the gang and you could tell they were having a ball.”

Collins says he currently does extensive work with his pups and young dogs at home using artificial stimuli, but says there is no follow through and reward once they reach the track.

“We support a program that starts with young pups and continues right through to race dogs and have the same stimuli for pups as we have on the race track.

“I believe it is up to every person to get behind this, including administrators, and then 99 per cent of the problems will be gone – the dogs will chase which has always been the issue that trainers have had to address.

“Chase is more of an issue now than ever and I think having the finish on lure is a no-brainer – the sooner they get onto it instead of mucking around with all this half [way] rubbish the better.”

Warrnambool, Traralgon and The Meadows (Wednesday) will be the first three tracks to introduce the new lure system on a permanent basis later this month.

The rollout will then include Shepparton, Geelong, Sandown Park and The Meadows (Saturday).

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Past Discussion

  1. When the hoop arm was used at Traralgon I was present at nearly all of the meetings catching the dogs. The first thing I noticed was that a dog fell nearly every time coming onto it and the other problem was that it was dangerous for the catchers.

  2. Yeah ex specially if you have a very rough dog too! I had one who knocked 4 dogs over just to be all over that lure ! And dogs nearly get vetted every race because jumping on lure falls

  3. If that is the case it simply means it wasn’t implemented with quality… it doesn’t happen in New Zealand and when it was in operation at Albion Park, an integrity analysis conducted by RQD showed the risk of injury on follow on lure to be the same as catching pen. We are the only developed industry in the world that uses catching pens . I’ve had numerous dogs injured in catching pen and lose confidence . Reichenbach stopped chasing after a catching pen incidence at Bulli, went to Victoria during the follow on lure trials at Geelong and Sandown and turned into a top class race dog who once again enjoyed his racing . With welfare sustainability all about maximizing the level of greyhounds that make the race track and stay on the race track, high quality reward based follow on lure system is a must . The data proves this to be the case three fold .

  4. I am a true believer in the FOL. it should be at every track. I think the reward for effort must be implemented for the dogs to keep chasing. Like Geoff said, every dog was involved at the finish and every dog was happy.

  5. I have been a staunch critic of finish on lure,due to the safety concerns, losing two to hock injuries the first time they had one at gosford,but believe it is now a must to give to dogs some kind of reward for their efforts, provided it is similar to what they use in NZ, not the rediculous streamers the were using at gosford causing dogs to twist when it went from flying vertically on turns to dropping straight on the straights

  6. I agree with Geoff totally. The hoop arm has proven it’s worth as a safe devise last Thursday at Gosford. A dog which fell in a race ran into the arm in the back straight after it had passed through the pen,making contact with the lure section of the arm. The dog then turned around and chased the arm until it stopped and finished onto it.No obvious injuries were sighted by those at the track. 

    The lure driver would no doubt have had his heart in his mouth, but afterwards was able to breathe a sigh of relief. 

  7. I have never had the opportunity to race a dog on a FOL but they use it everyday in NZ. I like NZ racing tbh. They might have a lot of short course stuff but they have very few corner starts. That has to be a plus surely.

  8. NZ have bramich lures were they cut the power and the lure stops nearly instantly if you were to finish on at richmond once you cut the power the lure keeps rolling to near the 330 boxes minimum so dogs will be going nearly 600 metres by the time they catch it

  9. Lure drivers need to see NZ Lure drivers and where they pull up Lure, we in past pull up FOL too soon, need to let if run on a bit same as NZ. Reality is kiwis been using this FOL long time, my understanding is they don’t get as many injuries.

  10. Can’t see a reason why we cant have both pen and finish on. Advertise the races as such and enter what you want. Nobody can complain then

  11. I had a dog have 6 vertebrae smashed after winning by 10 lengths in a trial to finish on. The lure drivers in Oz do not have the experience , they need training

  12. I still have a problem with the FOL.  In the catching pen the lure is skipped away and the dogs finish at half speed.  With the FOL they are heading straight for the lure at full speed whether it is slowed down or not.

    Another stupid experiment by those who know not what they do…. at our expense.

  13. On the other hand the hoop arm is a different kettle of fish.  The dogs spread out a bit more across the track. 

    I’ll train mine to rail and they’ll skip through underneath.  BRING IT ON, just don’t finish on.

  14. One more comment on this.

    On group race nights like the ‘Golden Easter Egg’ the track is prepared fast in the hope of very fast times, In fact it’s like concrete.  If you had a dog like ‘Fernando Bale’ would you like having him pull up on concrete or on soft sand like in the catching pen?

    A dog pulling up on firm ground risks chipping a stopper bone or breaking metacarpal bones or breaking toes.  That’s why we have deep sand in catching pens.

    The system is not broken, why fiddle with it?

  15. All tracks have public trials where you have a choice, a solo trial to finish on or catching pen. Finishing on solo is enough stimulus for dogs to chase.
    Eight dogs finishing on at the same time can only increase the injury rates.
    The finish on lure and the Hoop arm lure are two different things.
    I agree with GRV, the hoop arm lure to finish in the catching pen is a step ahead. Geoff Collins is wrong.

  16. All tracks have public trials where you have a choice, a solo trial to finish on or catching pen. Finishing on solo is enough stimulus for dogs to chase.
    Eight dogs finishing on at the same time can only increase the injury rates.
    The finish on lure and the Hoop arm lure are two different things.
    I agree with GRV, the hoop arm lure to finish in the catching pen is a step ahead. Geoff Collins is wrong.