GREYHOUND racing is very popular in New South Wales, with the state often considered as having the second top class of chasers behind Victoria.
The NSW industry brings approximately $335 million in revenue to the state economy each year (based on 2014 figures) and employs more than 10,000 paid employees including breeders, trainers and track attendants.
The main track in the state is Wentworth Park, located right in the heart of the Sydney CBD, which holds metropolitan meetings on Wednesday and Saturday nights.
History of greyhound racing in NSW
The first sporting use of greyhounds in Australia dates back to the 1860s, however it wasn’t until 1927 that ‘tin hare’ racing was introduced in NSW.
The first meeting was held at Epping Racecourse, later known as Harold Park, with Frederick “Judge” Swindell establishing the Greyhound Coursing Association.
In 1928, changes to the Gaming and Betting Act prevented people from betting after sunset as well as a halt on issuing new licences to greyhound racers, stopping the growth of the industry.
The former ban on greyhound racing was reversed in 1931 under a new Labor government, with Premier Jack Lang once again legalising greyhound racing, referring to the sports as the “working man’s racehorse”.
The NSW Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association was founded in 1939 and with it, more tracks began to open across the state.
In 1979, live hare coursing and other similar activities, including live baiting, was banned in NSW under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
In 1985, a new grandstand was finished at Wentworth Park, which officially became the racing headquarters of NSW two years later when racing ceased at Harold Park.
In 2009, the government formed a new legislation, known as the Greyhound Racing Act 2009 which made provisions in regards to the control and regulation of the industry.
Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) then became responsible for the regulatory affairs of the sport in addition to the commercial aspects.
In February 2015, the ABC program Four Corners, in conjunction with Animals Australia and Animal Liberation Queensland, used hidden surveillance footage to blow the lid on the alleged widespread practice of live baiting within the industry.
Also in February, Racing Minister Troy Grant told the CEO of GRNSW, Brent Hogan, as well as the entire GRNSW Board to stand down or be sacked due to the Four Corners investigation and findings.
In May that year, the NSW government launched a Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry, to be chaired by Justice Michael McHugh.
In July 2016, Premier Mike Baird announced that greyhound racing would be banned within NSW as of July 1, 2017.
His decision followed the release of the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into Greyhound Racing and was declared to have been made due to the widespread animal welfare concerns within the Inquiry’s report.
The Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill 2016 was officially passed through the Lower and Upper House in August.
Following backlash from the industry, the general public, media, and within the government itself, Baird announced plans to repeal the controversial ban in October, stating he ‘got it wrong’.
However, as of February 2017, the Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill 2016 had not been repealed, with the government awaiting recommendations from the NSW Greyhound Industry Reform Panel before writing new legislation which will be put in place for the future governance of the sport.
Betting on NSW greyhound racing
Aside from country tracks, all greyhound racing in NSW is covered on Sky Channel and by the TAB.
Because off-course betting is allowed, online bookmakers also offer betting on all TAB greyhound racing in the state, with many also offering fixed odds markets allowing punters to nab some value by comparing odds for their chosen runners.
Australian Racing Greyhound has its own list of recommended online bookmakers to bet through when wagering on greyhound racing to ensure you are only betting with a reputable and secure source.
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Who regulates greyhound racing in NSW?
Greyhound racing is regulated in NSW by Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW). The body corporate is charged with providing strategic direction and leadership for the integrity, development and welfare of greyhound racing within the state.
GRNSW is the peak body of the sport and is responsible for ensuring the viability of the industry for the benefit of the community, participants and business partners.
GRNSW is charged with controlling both the commercial and regulatory aspects of the industry; within which there are four core business units – integrity, operations, wagering media and content and Education and Welfare.
GRNSW wasn’t always in charge of the regulatory affairs of the sport, with that responsibility introduced in 2009 when the NSW government made the decision to transfer the greyhound division functions of the Greyhound and Harness Racing Regulatory Authority (GHRRA) to GRNSW.
This required legislative amendments to the sport which then began operating under the Greyhound Racing Act 2009. Flowing from the amendments to the industry in the act, the industry representative board of GRNSW was replaced by an independent Board in February 2012.
Under the act, a person is ineligible for appointment on the board if they are an employee of a greyhound racing club or a member of the governing body of a greyhound racing club. Additionally, each Board member has a maximum tenure of eight years.
Feature greyhound racing in NSW
There are 37 group and listed greyhound races in NSW each year, most of which are run and won at Wentworth Park.
The most lucrative event on the calendar is the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg, run over 520m, which is held on Easter Saturday every year and is worth a massive $250,000-to-the-winner.
Interestingly, there are only two group 1 events in the entire country which are not run at metropolitan venues, one of which is the Group 1 Megastar which is run at Dapto and is worth $75,000.
The feature events in NSW are as follows:
Group 1 Paws of Thunder (520m) – Wentworth Park
Group 1 National Futurity (520m) – Wentworth Park
Group 1 National Derby (520m) – Wentworth Park
Group 1 Golden Easter Egg (520m) – Wentworth Park
Group 1 Association Cup (720m) – Wentworth Park
Group 1 Peter Mosman Classic (520m) – Wentworth Park
Group 1 Megastar (520m) – Dapto
Group 1 Vic Peters Classic (520m) – Wentworth Park
Group 2 Gosford Cup (515m) – Gosford
Group 2 Summer Plate (720m) – Wentworth Park
Group 2 Bulli Gold Cup (472m) – Bulli
Group 2 Richmond Oaks (535m) – Richmond
Group 2 Richmond Derby (535m) – Richmond
Group 2 Maitland Cup (450m) – Maitland
Group 2 Black Top (515m) – The Gardens
Group 2 Bob Payne Spring Sprint (520m) – Wentworth Park
Group 2 Lismore Cup (520m) – Lismore
Group 3 The New Sensation (520m) – Wentworth Park
Group 3 The Ambrosoli (520m) – Wentworth Park
Group 3 Magic Maiden (520m) – Wentworth Park
Group 3 Gold Cup (720m) – Wentworth Park
Group 3 Nowra Summer Puppy Classic (520m) – Nowra
Group 3 Ladies Bracelet (520m) – Wentworth Park
Group 3 Dapto Maiden (520m) – Dapto
Group 3 Chairman’s Cup (720m) – Wentworth Park
Group 3 Canberra Cup (530m) – Canberra
Group 3 Casino Cup (484m) – Casino
Group 3 Sydney Cup (720m) – Wentworth Park
Group 3 Nowra Spring Puppy Classic (520m) – Nowra
Group 3 Dapto Puppy Classic (520m) – Dapto
Group 3 Summer Cup (720m) – Wentworth Park
Group 3 Christmas Gift (720m) – Wentworth Park
Listed The Collerson (520m) – Wentworth Park
Listed The Ultra Sense (520m) – Wentworth Park
Listed Richmond Riches (535m) – Richmond
Listed Richmond Maiden (535m) – Richmond
Listed Newcastle Cup (715m) – The Gardens
NSW greyhound racing tracks
There are currently 31 greyhound tracks in operation across NSW, many of which are non-TAB and scattered throughout rural regions of the state.
The complete list of NSW tracks is as follows:
Armidale: Non-TAB track located in the Northern Tablelands region of the state which is a unique track due to the fact that part of the surface is over a bridge.
Bathurst: Racing at Kennerson Park is held on Monday afternoons and is run by the NSW GBOTA.
Broken Hill: Located in an isolated mining community in the far north-west of NSW, proving greyhound racing action in the iconic Australian outback.
Bulli: One of just a few one turn tracks in NSW which is located on the South Coast of NSW, with meetings held each Saturday night.
Casino: Circle-shaped track which is situated in the Northern Rivers region of NSW.
Coonabarabran: Non-TAB track based on the divide between the Central West and the North West Slopes of NSW.
Coonamble: Non-TAB track which is home to the famous ‘Coonamble Carnival’ – the largest greyhound racing carnival in the state held over the October long weekend.
Cowra: Another circle shaped track which is located in the Central West of NSW.
Dapto: The world famous ‘Dapto Dogs’ is based in the Illawarra district of NSW and holds meetings on Thursday nights.
Dubbo: Situated in the Orara region where the Mitchell, Newell and Golden Highways Intersect.
Gosford: Based in the Gosford Showgrounds on the NSW Central Coast, half way between Sydney and the Hunter Valley.
Goulburn: One turn track located in the iconic town of Goulburn – it would be a crime not to spend a day at the dogs here.
Grafton: Highlighted by the Grafton Greyhound Racing carnival in July in what is known as ‘Jacaranda City’.
Gunnedah: Track has been open since the 1960s and is the final resting place of champion greyhound Chief Havoc.
Kempsey: Provides non-TAB racing action for participants around the mid north coast of the state.
Lismore: Meetings held on Tuesday night in the regional township just south of the Queensland border.
Lithgow: Has a rich history of greyhound racing, dating back to the 1880s when live hare coursing was held on the site – known then as Brown’s Paddock.
Maitland: The only one turn track in the Hunter Valley which is an ideal circuit for young dogs.
Moree: Another non-TAB track with racing held on Saturday’s along the banks of the Mehi River.
Mudgee: Selected Sunday afternoons are when non-TAB racing heads to Mudgee out in the central west.
Nowra: Based in Shoalhaven, Nowra is home to 52 meetings each year.
Potts Park: Located in Yagoona, a suburb of Bankstown, with the track also featuring a club and a restaurant on premises.
Richmond: Greyhound racing on the north west outskirts of Sydney is held at Richmond, located in the suburb of Londonderry.
Tamworth: Home of the annual country music festival and country class greyhound racing on Saturdays.
Taree: Grass non-TAB track situated on Kanangra Drive.
Temora: Located in the north-east of the Riverina area, racing on a non-TAB loam track which receives one annual TAB meeting each year for their Cup feature.
The Gardens: Relatively new track based in Newcastle in the NSW Hunter Valley and home to racing on Friday and Saturday nights.
Wagga: Wagga is the state’s largest inland city and holds greyhound racing on a loam surface at the Wagga Showgrounds.
Wauchope: Non-TAB track based in the north west coast region and racing over 384m, 457, and 722m.
Young: Country class racing situated on the South West Slopes region of NSW.
Wentworth Park: The pinnacle of greyhound racing is at Wentworth Park which is home to metropolitan racing and the majority of group racing within NSW.