Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) have today announced a temporary closure of 70% of racing venues across the state and the lockdown of seven strategically selected zoned regions outside of Sydney in a move to continue racing in the safest possible environment.
GRNSW Chief Executive Officer Tony Mestrov said strict biosecurity measures would also be stringently enforced at those remaining 10 tracks to continue racing, including no more than 50 participants at venues at any given time.
Importantly, trainers will only be allowed to nominate and race at the regional track in their zone. There was no mention of any greyhound grading policies to facilitate single-track greyhound racing.
If greyhound racing is allowed to continue, the new arrangements could be a boost for greyhound betting punters, with a locked-down pool of greyhounds attached to a single track and a resulting lack of depth across all grades.
NSW Greyhound Tracks Continuing To Race
GRNSW declined to detail how the zones would work and which suburbs would be locked to each track, but the list of closed tracks would suggest that some regional zones and their locked track are obvious.
Closed NSW Greyhound Tracks
GRNSW said that “all other measures in line with government and health authority advice are being followed to ensure the safety of all industry participants”.
The GRNSW plan follows today’s announcement by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian detailing shutdowns across the state to combat COVID-19, as well as health advice from state and federal governments.
GRNSW have made a number of key decisions, the most significant being the closure of some venues and zoning of regions.
Racing will be paused at Wentworth Park for the immediate future to avoid any exposure to metropolitan Sydney, and all feature races on the GRNSW calendar will be put on hold. Provincial prizemoney will be paid at all venues. Racing will also cease for the immediate future at all non-TAB venues with consideration being given to race programming to accommodate country class greyhounds.
Under the contingency plan, GRNSW are working on staging around 15 meetings a week across the designated venues, with a new calendar to be effective as of Wednesday, March 25.
As part of the plan to continue racing, biosecurity measures have been increased at these venues.
NSW Greyhound Biosecurity Measures
- No more than 50 participants will be allowed at the venue at any one time.
- No interstate greyhounds or trainers will be permitted to race in NSW.
- New protocols to permit a trainer, where appropriate, to leave the course after they have raced, with prior approval from GWIC.
- Introduction of a new pre-race kennelling procedure with designated times for each race kennelling including protocols of four square metres per person in an enclosed space.
- GRNSW to work with clubs on providing basic takeaway food/drink offerings at race meetings (i.e. package sandwiches, muffins, drinks etc).
- The use of one designated toilet block at race tracks.
- Trials to continue at all tracks but these must be booked. This allows separation and still allows greyhounds to trial. There will, however, be no access to kennels.
- Ensuring clubs provide best-practice hygiene for both greyhound and participant with stringent cleaning of venues.
“Like every business across the country, we have had to be decisive and do everything possible to continue operations while protecting the safety of all concerned. We feel the plan we are putting in place serves two very important purposes,” Mr Mestrov said.
“Firstly, it strengthens our biosecurity measures significantly, in the battle to contain the spread of COVID-19. Right throughout this worrying time for everyone, our number one priority and focus has been the health and safety of our participants and staff.
“Secondly, this allows our participants to continue to race, which means they can continue to work. For many, if not most of our thousands of participants, this is their livelihood and only form of income. We cannot underestimate how critical it is for both the livelihoods of our participants, and the economies of regional NSW, that we work out a way to continue to race.
“Another important part of being able to continue racing operations is the ability to support our commitment to re-homing programs, which is vital.
“The tracks we have chosen for our contingency plan have been strategically selected so that we can cater for the participants in those regions, and they must race in their region to limit the amount of travel our participants need to do.”
The Greyhound Welfare Integrity Commission (GWIC) are being consulted to assist with implementation of the new arrangements.
Tuesday’s NSW greyhound races are expected to continue as scheduled.