Relief for participants as Grafton carnival allowed to proceed

THE 2016 Grafton Greyhound Racing Carnival will continue in Northern NSW despite an immediate seven-day shutdown placed on greyhound racing in the state on Thursday afternoon.

The decision to impose the shutdown was made by Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) and followed the State Government’s bombshell announcement that greyhound racing will become illegal in NSW as of July 1, 2017.

A press release said “As the controlling body and regulator for greyhound racing in NSW GRNSW formed the view that the appropriate and responsible course of action was to temporarily suspend racing operations until it better understood the immediate implications of the government decision and had an informed view around any potential staff, industry and animal welfare concerns.”

However, with the Grafton carnival having commenced earlier this week, the club was able to convince officials to allow the northern rivers carnival to proceed next week, making it the only NSW greyhound track to be doing so.

“We put it to Greyhound Racing NSW that we already have 40 caravans on site with people from all over Australia who come here to race once a year,” Grafton Club manager John Corrigan told the Courier Mail.

“There were some Greyhound Racing NSW officials here the other night and they saw first-hand all the people who were already here.

“That helped us convince them to allow us to race here next week. The greyhound people are here and the greyhounds themselves are all here ready to race.”

Meanwhile, participants who are currently camping at the track from across the country said it was a very sad atmosphere.

“It has gone from the joy of everyone seeing each other and catching up to being a very sombre place to be,” Hunter Valley trainer Terry Priest said.

“When the news hit it was devastating, like everyone we were all in disbelief.

“We all started packing up and we were ready to go come when John Corrigan and Brad Ellis from the club said that we had the green light to keep going.

“The boys fought very hard and it is a phenomenal result to show everyone we will not be defeated – so it is a bit of a win for everyone.”

Priest said while it the decision to keep racing next week has lifted everyone’s spirits, it is still a very sad time with so much uncertainty as to what the future holds.

“No one can believe what’s happened – everyone is shocked at the information which has been released from the report which is full of inaccurate statistics.

“No one has a clue where they have got there numbers from, there is not one skerrick of evidence to support any of their claims.

“I think the Baird government have had it in the pipeline a long time but they were able to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.

“They have blindsided us, now we have no idea what is going to happen and we have been abandoned by GRNSW who stopped racing at the time when we need to be racing more than ever.

“It’s a miscarriage of justice to punish everyone for the actions of a few – if it was four or five hundred people doing the wrong thing then it would be different.

“Most people are involved in the dogs with their families like myself – we breed ourselves but we keep our retired dogs and don’t breed additional litters until the other dogs have lived out their natural lives.

“This ban is going to effect a lot of people – I just shut down my business to go into training full time – how am I going to be able to afford all of our pets if we are not racing?

“Hopefully for the first time in my 25 years we can band together and fight this.”

Grafton will race on Monday, Wednesday and Friday next week, with the feature event of next Wednesday’s meeting being the $14,000-to-the-winner Taylor and Clarence Valley Sheds Maiden final.