GREYHOUND racing resumed in New South Wales on Wednesday, but the afternoon meeting at Richmond was tinged with sadness as many trainers still sat in shock at the Baird government’s decision to ban the sport.
Brian Rylands, the bookie who attends every Richmond meeting, said the looming ban has shook the industry to its core.
“It’s hit us hard – I am probably not going to be as bad off as a lot of people, but I know everyone in this industry through being a bookmaker for 40 years,” Rylands told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“The decision (to ban greyhound racing) is an absolute disgrace, they are punishing a lot of people for a few bad eggs.
“They have based the report on figures that are flakey – they are not correct.
“Most people that have their greyhounds look after the dogs terrifically – I, myself, have one of the dogs which is meant to be among the wastage figures and I have him sitting on the lounge as a 10 year old pet.
“The greenies won’t just let up on the greyhounds – horse racing will be next.”
Having been in the greyhounds for most of his life, Rylands was unsure as to what his future will look like without the sport he loves.
“I’ve held every position within the industry – I’ve been an owner, trainer, stud master and breeder,” he said.
“I’m 64 so if the greyhounds close I’ll either be on the pension or on the dole, my career is finished.”
Robert Hoare, a trainer of 26 years, was heartbroken and still struggling to adjust to the news one week later.
“It is an absolute disgrace and I am devastated by the decision…I just love the greyhound game and so do my whole family,” he said.
“I hope that the decision can be overturned and that Mr Baird realises we aren’t all as bad as he thinks we are.”
Hoare said it was a relief to be back at the track, with Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) lifting its suspension on greyhound racing as of Wednesday.
“We are very happy to be back racing,” he said.
“Everyone is still down, but we have just got to try to keep our heads high and keep fighting.”
Local conditioner Hank Vanderburg struggles to comprehend what would happen to the area when greyhound racing ceases, with Londonderry packed with the dishlickers and their trainers.
“Every second house in Londonderry has greyhounds – we all love the dogs and coming to the track is what we do on Wednesday and Friday nights every week.
“We are devastated, absolutely devastated.
“Everybody is still on a bit of a downer at the moment, but hopefully things will start to pick up again over the next few weeks.”
“Devastated” was the key word used by all participants Australian Racing Greyhound spoke to, while Jim, father of trainer Paul Ballantine, said his family feel betrayed by the State Government.
“We are devastated…I can’t imagine how any government could do this sort of thing to ordinary people, it’s shocking,” he said.
“There are some people here and you can tell by their faces they are really depressed, this has hurt a lot of people.”
The retiree fills his day with helping his son look after greyhounds on a six acre property and says he won’t know what to do with himself if and when the sport closes.
“My son got into the greyhound eight years ago – he bought a bitch and he raced her and bred from her.
“The first litter all went pretty good and I got involved by going with him and helping him out – buying his meat and doing a few things while he works – it keeps me very busy.
“I don’t know what I’ll do if the sport gets banned, I don’t work anymore and I really enjoy spending time with my son and the dogs.”