PROMINENT Victorian conditioner Geoff Collins has labelled Greyhound Racing Victoria’s decision to introduce the finish-on style lure as ‘pointless’ unless the authority body abolishes the traditional catching pen.
GRV announced that the ‘hoop’ arm lure system will be deployed at all greyhound racing clubs throughout the state, with the style of the lure proven to have aided congestion issues and improved dog safety throughout the race.
However, rather than greyhounds catching the lure at the end of the race, like they do in New Zealand, runners will still finish each event into the catching pen.
While appreciating that efforts to reduce injury are vital, Collins believes another major issue is not being addressed – chase.
Collins believes allowing dogs to catch the lure at the end of each race would dramatically improve failing to pursue statistics, which have been on the rise in recent years since the use of food rewards and animal by-products including wool were banned for the use of training greyhounds.
“I don’t see that there is much benefit at all,” Collins told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“I think if they are going to introduce it then they need to allow the greyhounds to finish onto the lure.
“Currently we have problems with dogs chasing, you see it all the time and there is a lot of support growing for the finish on lure.
“To bring on the finish-on style lure, but have the dogs still run into the catching pen – it’s a waste of time.
“There have been massive changes in this industry and we all support them and the direction the industry is moving forward ethically.
“But the problem is we haven’t replaced it with anything – we aren’t stimulating the dogs’ chase factor.”
Collins explained he conducted his own research on the use of the finish on lure when it was being used in Queensland and found that dogs were chasing much harder.
“I did some studies on the six years they had the finish on lure at Albion Park and the two years after when using the catching pen.
“Based on my figures it showed that the number of unsatisfactory tickets dropped by a massive amount and then in the two years following that using the hybrid version – which is what we are going to have – they were much higher.
“We went to Albion Park a few years ago and watched how they finish on. I remember Velocette jumped on the finish on lure giving it a hammering and another bitch was standing back – she wouldn’t go in there – but she was wagging her tail and she was still involved with the pack.
“Each of those dogs both got their stimulation in a different way – but they both caught their quarry and were part of the gang and you could tell they were having a ball.”
Collins says he currently does extensive work with his pups and young dogs at home using artificial stimuli, but says there is no follow through and reward once they reach the track.
“We support a program that starts with young pups and continues right through to race dogs and have the same stimuli for pups as we have on the race track.
“I believe it is up to every person to get behind this, including administrators, and then 99 per cent of the problems will be gone – the dogs will chase which has always been the issue that trainers have had to address.
“Chase is more of an issue now than ever and I think having the finish on lure is a no-brainer – the sooner they get onto it instead of mucking around with all this half [way] rubbish the better.”
Warrnambool, Traralgon and The Meadows (Wednesday) will be the first three tracks to introduce the new lure system on a permanent basis later this month.