The future of Tier 3 racing in Victoria must surely be under the spotlight, with many rank and file participants questioning the concept, declaring that the current system promotes mediocrity.
A growing number of Owners and Trainers are concerned with the non-grading of these meetings and the random way the competing greyhounds are selected. Although fields are compiled around how much prizemoney the greyhound has won, it’s the greyhounds that are being drawn “randomly” that have participants questioning the grading. The current system doesn’t guarantee that the best performed greyhounds are receiving a start. Whilst the betting turnover on these meetings appear satisfactory, many believe a change is required to grade the greyhounds as per normal, thus assuring the better performed greyhounds are starting in Tier 3 meetings.
The entire racing product in Victoria, including all Tier 3 racing, is now covered on Sky Racing. So clearly it makes sense to put our best greyhounds on display at any one time to drive betting turnover.
It seems Greyhound Racing Victoria are keen to continue these meetings in their current format, and why not, there are plenty of nominations. No grading, other than splitting maiden and grade 5 greyhounds by prizemoney earnt is required, and the programs only race for half the full stake money of the normal Victorian provincial meetings.
Without grading the fairness of the racing must surely be called into question though. Many times have we have witnessed maiden greyhounds drawn as reserves at Tier 3 meetings despite qualifying wins and performing well in maiden finals without placing.
As well as the obvious lack of class in Tier 3 programs, there is the dilemma at the other end of the scale, when a better performed greyhound drops so far in grade it’s almost farcical. A recent example of this saw Vicky Pollard, a multiple city winner in Melbourne, competing against a second rate field at a Bendigo Tier 3 program recently. Not only did she stifle the betting as a fives on favourite, she won by 13 lengths and ran 28.12 for the 500 metre journey, a time which would win most full stake programs at Lords Raceway.
It is in no way against the rules for the trainer of Vicky Pollard to take advantage of the Tier 3 system, but the question must be asked, is this good for the future of greyhound racing, and does it promote fairness and an equal playing field for all participants.
Does the Tier 3 structure maximise returns to participants as is the GRV mantra, or is it simply a matter of time management and ease to compose the fields in this manner. The splitting of the Normal and Tier 3 programs is quite a divide, in fact it almost harks back to the days when the major provincial tracks such as Geelong and Cranbourne raced for much more stake money than the smaller provincial clubs such as Horsham and Wangaratta used to, before stakes equalisation was introduced in 2000.
While GRV is content with the status quo of random selection of fields for Tier 3 racing, the long term effect on Greyhound Racing in Victoria might have implications that are not being considered or intended.
Some consequences may include the loss of some long term participants, the disenfranchisement of others and a de-valuation in pups and breeding stock.
It seems we are perhaps going backwards, under the guise of moving forward. Food for thought, I am sure you would agree.