While Victorian's battle the bushfires and drought conditions, the Kempsey Greyhound Racing Club have had to look at innovative ways to keep racing while they battle their own problems.
The Kempsey Greyhound Race meeting set down for last Sunday 15th February 2009 was to be a benefit meeting to aid the Victorian bushfires surivivors, but greyhound racing had to be abandoned because of the flooded track surface.
And the flood waters have continued unabated since Sunday, leaving the club with little choice but to “make the most of the situation”.
Making the most of the situation involved organising and the running the world's first Shark Racing meeting and Australian Racing Greyhound was on hand to witness the ground breaking race meeting.
Kempsey Greyhound Racing Club secretary and treasurer Sam Simonetta said he was happy with how the initial races went.
“Looking at the track and club house with all the water trapped is a frightening site,” Mr Simonetta said.
“But not half as frightening as seeing the field of eight sharks break from the boxes and charge after the lure”.
Asked what the club was using instead of the normal “fake rabbit”, Simonetta was giving away few clues.
“Let's just say we've tested several lures, with varying degrees of success; but without giving away any trade secrets, we've found South Australian Blue Fin is the most effective”.
With water currently covering the betting ring, greyhound track, canteen, car park and ground keeper's cottage, Simonetta and his club felt they had few other options other than to stage the shark races, to keep revenue coming in to the club.
“There is more water dumped into the track than there was in the 2001 flood,” Mr Simonetta said.
Australian Racing Greyhound asked Simonetta if they'd encoutered any logistical problems running the shark races as opposed to the greyhounds.
“Well obviously, we initially had some issues getting trainers willing to actually put the normal racing stretchvest's on their sharks, and so we've opted for a temporary spray paint on the shark's dorsal fin's instead”.
“Placing the shark in the boxes prior to the race start is pretty much the same as greyhound racing, so no issues there………..The only problem we've really come up against is finding catchers for the sharks at the end of the race………..So far, we've really struggled to firstly find, and then hold on to; volunteers for that job”.
The club has a normal greyhound race meet planned for Saturday, February 28, and is still hopeful of holding the event.
But if the waters don't clear Kempsey Greyhound Racing Club is confident it's new innovative sport is one that will find great public support and ensure huge crowds to the flooded racing venue.