AS regular readers would be aware my colleague Bruce Teague often refers to stewards reports and points out what he considers to be incorrect commentary. Sadly, it’s my turn to take issue with the stewards, although in my case it isn’t what’s in the stewards reports it’s what’s not in them which I find of grave concern. I also believe the omissions should concern all participants worried about the safety of their charges in races.
A couple of months ago I wrote about a greyhound named Supreme Deal which I had noticed pulling up just after the finishing post in its Sunday afternoon race at Sandown Park on February 28. He then jumped the running rail and scooted across the grass in an effort to ‘outflank’ the lure. No mention was made of the fence jumping in the stewards report, which I found strange, but dismissed as just one of those things.
In that race it was fortunate no other runner was inconvenienced by Supreme Deal’s innovative attempt at capturing the lure. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. In fact the video evidence shows Supreme Deal has pulled up and hurdled the fence at the last five of his only six outings at the Lightwood Road course, the most recent being Sunday May 15.
In that latter race, Supreme Deal finished fifth and, as the video clearly shows, was out wide as he passed the line before he pulled up and suddenly lurched left. That action led to sixth-placed Henry Garth (box 3) colliding with Supreme Deal and last-placed Bronster (box 7) forced into evasive action.
The stewards report says nothing. Seriously, not a word of the incident. The report reads, in full, ‘Supreme Deal, Henry Garth and Silky Sock were slow to begin. Supreme Deal and Henry Garth collided soon after the start. Silky Sock and Bronster collided approaching the first turn. Bronster and Zipping Zali collided approaching the first turn. Supreme Deal checked El Surrao on the third turn. A sample was taken from Pantera Nera, the winner of the event.’ That’s it.
Supreme Deal raced at Sandown Park a week earlier and the video shows after his usual slow start he ran home strongly to finish third. Yet again, he pulled up just after the line and as he zoomed across to the fence the last-placed runner Maximum Chez (box 4) crashed into him and the pair skidded along the running rail.
The stewards report, consisting in full of 119 words, read, in part: ‘Supreme Deal and Enjoy Cruising were slow to begin. Moonlit Wings was quick to begin…Mepunga Joffa checked off Mafalda Hopkirk approaching the home turn. A sample was taken from Moonlit Wings – the winner of the event. Supreme Deal was vetted following the event. It was reported that the greyhound sustained grazes to the left front wrist and left hind hock, no stand down period was imposed.’
How did he get those ‘grazes’? Almost certainly as he came into contact with the running rail after the race was over.
At his race on 3 January this year, where he ran seventh, it will come as no surprise that he jumped the fence at the end of the race there, and once again not a word in the stewards report.
In the only night race he has contested at Sandown, on December 24 last year he finished seventh. It’s almost impossible to tell from the video whether he jumped the fence after the line, although the stewards report notes, ‘Supreme Deal…sustained spike wounds to the right hind. No stand down period was imposed.’
In my previous article, I noted Supreme Deal’s antics reminded me of a very good NSW greyhound named Hiraani Blade who took to hurdling the fence at the end of a race at Wentworth Park and taking off across the football field in the hope of ‘outflanking’ the lure. When she did it a second time stewards were forced to ban her from racing at Wentworth Park.
As I wrote at the time, ‘The problem for the connections of Supeme Deal, I would think, is how to stop the greyhound doing the same thing again. Having tried it once there’s a good chance, based on what I recall of Hiraani Blade, of him doing it again, certainly at a Sandown daytime meeting.’
Let me be clear. I am not singling out Supreme Deal or his connections. There may be others who are jumping the fence at Sandown at the end of their races, but I haven’t noticed them. What I am completely surprised by is the failure of the stewards to note the occurrences.
In my opinion this is as much a welfare issue as any other, both for Supreme Deal and any competitor who finishes behind him in any race he contests at Sandown Park. What’s going to happen if Supreme Deal manages to win a race at the course and suddenly goes into his hurdling act a few metres past the post with seven greyhounds on his tail? Hopefully nothing, but ‘hopefully’ is not going to cut it if a serious accident takes place. As with Hiraani Blade all those years ago, stewards need to be pro-active and ban the greyhound from competing at Sandown Park both for its safety and that of others.