The successful push for a six-dog field in Free For All (FFA) races around WA tracks was put into place on Saturday night at Cannington in the heats of the WA bred championship.
After numerous complaints to the grading department about FFA’s not being able to fill a minimum seven-dog field, the change was made to allow six dogs to decrease the chance of not being able to run a FFA.
“Dogs are taking longer to get though the grades and there is obviously less dogs above grade five level. It was seen as an ongoing problem and the worst thing you could have is the best dog staying home.” Industry representative on the grading panel Dean Starkie explained.
John Crossley’s On Coin was one of the chasers who stayed in the kennels because only six greyhounds were nominated for the FFA at Cannington on a Saturday night.
“He missed out on one FFA, I had the stewards phone to say there weren’t enough numbers so I asked why there can be six dogs racing over 642 but not in a FFA. He would have missed out on another two FFA’s but he was out injured.” Trainer John Crossley stated.
“It happened at Northam a couple of times prior to getting the extra grade five races. Grade four dogs couldn’t go in a FFA and before that there where three or four times the best 300 metre dogs stayed home.” Starkie explained.
The constant evolution of the greyhound industry, not only in WA but Australia wide, means that regulations should be constantly looked at as time and situations change.
With suggestions by trainers to drop the number to as low as five dogs in a FFA, the industry had to look into how betting turnover would be affected.
“Every time you drop numbers the betting turn over goes down. So you need to find a balance where you are putting rules in place and the best dogs go around without compromising the betting turnover.”
“It’s all about our dog population being small in comparison to Melbourne. A lot of interstate greyhounds when they came over were out-graded. Hopefully the grading changes should lead to more city dogs being here and give the industry a bigger pool to buy from.”
Starkie also believes that the previous uncertainty surrounding the new Cannington track took its toll on WA greyhound numbers. With the confirmation of the new track he hopes the industry continues to breed as well as purchase greyhounds from outside the state.
“It’s going to take a little while for things to pick up but at the moment we want the best dogs going around every week.”