The NSW Greyhound Welfare & Integrity Commission (GWIC) has released a statement over a “no race” at Bathurst last Saturday but failed to accept responsibility for running a greyhound race with metal debris on the track.
In an embarrassing gaffe on the day the regional Million Dollar Chase Final was being held at GWIC’s home track of Bathurst, race seven was declared a no race after it became apparent greyhounds had to avoid some large metal debris on the track just one race after the big final.
Officially the GWIC Stewards Report on the race reads:
“Race 7 declared a no race due to a metal grade falling off the drag mag (sic) during the track preparation at the turn into the back straight. The metal grade was noticed on the track once the greyhounds commenced the race.”
For those unaware, GWIC employ the NSW greyhound stewards and they are directly under their control and direction. They are GWIC.
Australian rules of racing in all codes dictate that once a race meeting is underway all aspects of the meeting and the track fall under the control and direction of the stewards presiding at the meeting. There is no higher power at that point in time. In this case, the Bathurst meeting was under the control of three GWIC Stewards.
The Australian Greyhound Racing Rule R20 (3) reads:
Subject to these Stewards shall have the power to control and regulate the meeting and without prejudice to the generality of that power shall have power to
- (a) inquire into any matter or thing in connection with a meeting pursuant to their control;
- (b) require, obtain production of and examine all books, documents and other printed materials relating to a meeting;
- (c) enter all lands, booths, buildings, kennels, stands, enclosures and all other places used for the purpose of a meeting;
- (d) control, regulate, and inquire into the conduct of officials, bookmakers, bookmakers’ clerks, owners, trainers, attendants and other persons participating in or associated with a meeting;
- (e) determine all questions and objections made in reference to a meeting;
- (f) order the examination of a greyhound drawn in a meeting for the purpose of ascertaining its age or identity or for any other purpose;
- (g) require any owner or trainer to satisfy them that he or any greyhound nominated by him is not subject to any disability or restriction or penalty pursuant to these Rules, or the Rules of the Controlling Body;
- (h) remove at any time during a meeting any official and to appoint a substitute for any such official;
- (i) appoint any official necessary to the proper control, regulation or conduct of a meeting if in their opinion the club has failed or neglected to do so;
- (j) acting on veterinary advice, or the advice of an authorised person, order the withdrawal of a greyhound from a meeting if in their opinion the greyhound is unfit to run;
- (k) extend the starting time for any Event where in their opinion exceptional circumstances make such action necessary or desirable;
- (l) alter the order in which Events appear on the original draw for a meeting if in their opinion that action is necessary or desirable for the proper conduct of the meeting;
- (m) use and, if they think fit, accept the results of, any device or method approved by the Controlling Body or Stewards to assist them in arriving at decisions.
- (n) expel or exclude a person from a meeting;
- (o) exercise all such powers as may be conferred upon them by the Controlling Body;
- (p) refuse permission to any bookmaker or bookmaker’s clerk to operate at a meeting;
- (q) delegate any of their powers pursuant to these Rules to a person officiating at a meeting;
- (r) determine any act, matter or thing that arises but is not provided for by the Rules;
- (s) disqualify from winning any Event or being placed in any Event, or for any term, any greyhound liable to be disqualified or suspended pursuant to these Rules;
- (t) recommend to the Controlling Body that a person should be warned off;
- (u) disqualify from winning or being placed in any Event a greyhound used in connection with a breach of these Rules;
- (v) order that, prior to any further nominations being accepted for any greyhound, a Veterinary certificate be produced to the satisfaction of the Stewards, stating that at the time of examination, the greyhound is fit to start.
It is fair to say that the powers and control over all people and greyhounds at the race meeting are extensive and absolute. It is therefore somewhat obtuse for GWIC to have released a statement today saying it “is aware of the circumstances that led” to the no race. The incident was under no other control at the time, than by GWIC itself.
Officially the GWIC media release reads:
“The Greyhound Welfare & Integrity Commission is aware of the circumstances that led to Commission stewards calling a ‘No Race’ after Race 7 at Bathurst on Saturday 7 September 2019.”
“It has been confirmed that equipment detached from a tractor after the running of Race 6 and remained unnoticed on the track until Race 7 had begun. The Commission is working closely with GBOTA to investigate how this occurred and to prevent such events occurring again.”
“The Commission is also investigating allegations in relation to the conduct of a participant following this race.”
“The Commission takes a strong stance on misconduct and, if appropriate, will take disciplinary action against participants who fail to display respectful behaviour towards officials and other participants in breach of the rules of racing.”
All replays of the infamous no race have been removed from the internet, and the official race meeting stewards report makes a vague reference to a post race incident, but no other information exists.
While AustralianRacingGreyhound.com in no way condones “fronting” stewards in any other than a respectful and professional manner, we do wonder if prosecuting those involved for “blowing up” over the incident while accepting no responsibility is the best way forward for the NSW greyhound integrity watchdog. GWIC is already under enormous pressure by participants and industry supporters over anti greyhound racing industry practices.
The rules of racing clearly state that the stewards were in charge of the meeting. All responsibility for the meeting, the racing integrity, and the welfare outcomes fall ultimately at the feet of GWIC stewards and GWIC itself.
Running a race with metal debris on the track is clearly a greyhound welfare issue.
If GWIC want to win back the support and respect of its detractors then taking responsibility over a clear animal welfare incident is vital. The NSW greyhound welfare watchdog cannot effectively police the the NSW participants, the greyhounds, and their combined welfare; if it will not accept responsibility and police and prosecute itself.