GREYHOUND Racing Victoria chairman Peter Caillard has quit his post in the latest twist in the live-baiting saga.
Caillard informed Martin Pakula, the Victorian Minister for Racing, on Monday he has chosen to resign from his position on the board.
Nearly 40 registered participants have been suspended nationwide so far, including 15 from Victoria, after an investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners. Working with the RSPCA, Animal Liberation Queensland and Animals Australia, it exposed trainers using live rabbits, possums and piglets to train their dogs.
Caillard said in a statement he believed it was in the best interests of all involved for him to step down and that he was confident the required changes would be made for the sport to continue.
“Since the Four Corners program and subsequent discussions and developments, I have made the personal decision that I cannot remain as chairman,” he said.
“I believe in accountability for a chairman of an organisation and that it is in the best interests of the industry that a new person be appointed to this position.
“I wish to emphasise that I am firmly of the view that the new team that has been put in place at GRV are the right people to work with the RSPCA to stamp out this activity once they are given the appropriate powers to do so.
“As a final comment, I will remain available to work closely with the Government and the RSPCA to bring those responsible to justice. I am pleased this activity has been discovered and have no doubt it will be stamped out.”
Caillard also maintained he did not believe the practice was widespread, however, he said he could no longer be satisfied it was restricted to just those caught at the Tooradin trial track. He finished his statement by congratulating the government on its swift action to try to eradicate live baiting.
Also in Victoria and three Group 1 races were run and won at The Meadows on Saturday night with no major incidents to report after it was initially thought a large number of anti-racing protestors would be at the meeting.
Awesome Project, formerly trained by Darren McDonald, was on Friday given the all clear to take his place in the Temlee for McDonald’s wife Joanne Gane and finished second.
There was doubt as to whether the son of Collision and Honour Phase would run after he was suspended from racing earlier in the week when McDonald was stood down due to alleged baiting offences.
RQ Integrity boss on the outer
Racing Queensland has announced the Queensland All Codes Racing Industry Board has stood down the general manager of Stewarding and Integrity Operations, Wade Birch.
Kevin Dixon, chairman of the QACRIB Board, said the action was taken following recent evidence which suggested procedures of the integrity department need to be addressed.
“Information that has to come to light in the past week suggests there are procedural issues within the integrity area of the business,” Dixon said in a press release on Sunday.
“As Mr Birch is the officer responsible for that department, the board has taken the decision that it is appropriate to stand Mr Birch down while those shortcomings are further understood.
“There is no allegation of improper conduct on Mr Birch’s part, however, in the board’s view, it was appropriate he be stood down until the review is completed.”
In total, 13 trainers have so far been stood down in Queensland for alleged live-baiting practices.
Also in the Sunshine State, Australian Racing Greyhound has requested an update in regards to the greyhounds removed from the properties of suspended participants, however, Racing Queensland was not able to provide further information by the time of publishing.
It is understood some owners have lost patience and are considering legal action. RQ has put the number of dogs seized at 100 but it is believed to be much higher than that.
Lavender says standing down was right call
In NSW, Greyhound Racing New South Wales board member Megan Lavender has publicly spoken about her decision to step down.
Lavender, while disappointed, conceded it was in the best interests of the sport for them all to step down.
“It was in the public interest and in the interests of the greyhound racing industry as a whole that I offered my resignation as a board member of Greyhound Racing NSW to the Deputy Premier, Mr Grant,” Ms Lavender said.
“The only other alternative for the Government would have been to call an immediate halt to greyhound racing in our state. This was an option which I was not prepared to countenance because it would have resulted in the immediate unemployment of thousands of innocent NSW residents associated with greyhound racing – from the ladies serving at the tuck shop to the blokes sweeping out the kennels.
“It was for the greater good – the sacrifice of the few to protect the many – and, to quote Sydney Carton, ‘it is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known’.”
Lavender said she in no way supported the actions of the trainers depicted on the ABC’s controversial report.
“What we saw on Four Corners is not just abhorrent. It is revolting. It is vile. It is a crime predicated on evil,” she said.
“I hope that each and every one of the depraved individuals involved is prosecuted to the full extent of the law, which, in this case, can mean nothing short of a custodial sentence.”