On the heels of Greyhound Racing Victoria’s (GRV) announcement that they intend to implement modest increases in Victorian greyhound racing prizemoney, GRV have today announced increases to GOBIS and VBIS prizemoney.
The GOBIS (Greyhound Owners and Breeder Incentive Scheme) and VBIS (Victorian Breeder Incentive Scheme) aim to support local Victorian breeding and were a popular innovation amongst locals at one time as the dominant greyhounds with the most powerful kennels in the state were mostly bred interstate. The VBIS races particularly were seen as a chance for some decent prizemoney for the little players in the game.
However GRV has since implemented responsible breeding guidlines which are designed to reduce the number of litters whelped in Victoria each year. In 2008 1,057 litters were whelped in Victoria, down from 1,222 in 2007 and a high of 1,315 in 2004. 2009 figures are not available but should prove interesting as anecdotally whelpings thus far this year seem to be only around 50 per month on average which would see less than 1,000 litters produced in 2009.
While this might appease the animal welfare lobbyists, GRV’s decision to strongly try to reduce breed numbers in the state, coupled with the increasingly unviable nature of breeding and racing greyhounds and the subsequent downturn in the economy; leaves this state in great threat of relying increasingly on other states to supply racing stock for its product.
GRV have so far struggled to find the right balance between providing encouragement and incentive for local breeders on the one hand; and on the other hand keeping animal welfare issues of redundancy in the breed in check. At the same time they are hell bent on increasing the number of races being held with 10,086 races held in 2008, a record number.
Is it possible or even appropriate to have an breeders incentive scheme in place, while at the same time proactively discouraging breeding?
GRV will argue they do not discourage breeding but are only trying to discourage indiscriminant breeding. In this day and age it is hard to believe anyone would enter in to the commitment to breed a litter “indiscriminantly” knowing that they have 12-18 months and between $15,000-$20,000 in costs ahead of them.
Nevertheless GRV Chair Jan Wilson today annouced that there would be an increase in the GOBIS bonus by $100 to a new bonus of $900 for Victorian bred and GOBIS registered greyhounds who can win the GOBIS marked races, usually 5th and maiden grade finals.
There will also be a further increase to the VBIS Grade 5 Series, which is conducted at all provincial TAB tracks with winning prizemoney to rise by $1,000 to $4,000.The 5th grade VBIS series and the whole VBIS initiative was initially seen as a win for the battler or smaller trainer as the series are aimed at young, less experienced Victorian bred greyhounds and those struggling to win more than four races.
The reality however is quite different. Of the 12 VBIS races we reviewed from the start of this year, 9 of those races were won by leading Victorian greyhound trainers who would be considered to be professional fulltime trainers. It becomes clearly evident where the majority of this increase will flow too.
Additionally the GRV have advised that Healesville will now conduct a VBIS Maiden Series for the first time in April 2010 and offer a winner’s prize of $4,500. The current Healesville’s VBIS Grade 5 Series will double from $1,500 to the winner to $3,000.
Mrs. Wilson, said of the initiatives: “…..as a consequence of these new initiatives, I am confident that GOBIS and VBIS will continue to be at the forefront of incentive schemes throughout Australia”.
While the schemes themselves may be at the forefront, the GRV’s confusing stance on breeding in the state and the self-limiting nature of the breeders taskforce guidelines are crippling the state’s ability to provide both the quality and quantity of greyhounds required to produce product of the standard necessary.
A quick review of the top ten ranked greyhounds in Australia this year to the end of June does nothing dispel the ugly truth that Victorian breeding is in trouble. Just one of the top ten greyhounds is Victorian bred, although six of the ten are trained in Victoria.