PROMINENT Northern Rivers trainer Sonia Kempshall does not believe the introduction of six-dog fields will have an impact on reducing the injury rate within greyhound racing.
Kempshall’s stance comes after Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) announced it would be trialling the format of six-dog fields at Lismore during the new Non-TAB meetings scheduled in the area.
“I am fully into welfare issues and improving the sport, but I am in two minds about it – I still think there is going to be interference in the races so I don’t know if it is going to be a good thing or a bad thing,” Kempshall told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“I think having an arm which goes further out on the track would be a better decision.
“At the moment the dogs all want to cross down onto the rail to follow the lure which causes a lot of interference, but if the lure were in the middle of the track I don’t think it would matter whether there were eight dogs or six – the injury rate would still be reduced.
“Extending the arm so that all dogs have got an equal opportunity rather than having to dive down to the rails – that’s the way to go.”
The trial of the six dog fields will be used to collect data to assist in the impact the reduced field size has on injury rates.
Six-dog fields formed part of the recommendations of the Joint Working Group – a body established in 2015 to assist with the NSW greyhound racing industry’s strategic approach – and also by the University of Technology of Sydney as a part of the report commissioned by GRNSW into optimal track design for canine safety.
The six-dog meetings will be trialled in place of the gap in Non-TAB racing in the Northern Rivers area since the closure of the Tweed Heads track last December and is expected to be conducted at least until the end of the financial year.
However, Kempshall also questioned the negative impacts six-dog fields could have for the industry if implemented across the state, including a possible reduction in betting turnover.
“You have to look at it from the betting point of view as well – it could affect betting activity,” she said.
“Additionally it means that more dogs won’t get runs – there will be less dogs per race which could cause issues because there is already enough of a problem with not being able to get runs.
“If they want to reduce the fields they will have to provide more races – particularly masters races and racing for lower graded dogs as well.”