NSW tracks dilemma: greyhound racing… without the racing
NEW South Wales greyhound trainers were left furious after the Gosford meeting was cancelled on Thursday night due to track surface issues.
A Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) press release issued on Friday morning advised ‘stewards and veterinarians found the racing surface to be too hard and held concerns that it would jeopardise the welfare of greyhounds if racing took place. After consultation with the curator at the Gosford track, this left GRNSW no choice but to abandon the meeting'.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for many trainers who had been affected by the abandonment of the Maitland meeting the week prior.
Both tracks are operated by the NSW Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association (GBOTA).
GBOTA CEO Brenton Scott said his organisation was disappointed to have lost the meetings and concedes communication in regards to track standards and preparation must be assessed moving forward.
“It is obviously disappointing to lose any meetings but the meetings have been cancelled on the basis of safety,” Scott said.
“The GBOTA is supportive of a centralised system that strives to present consistent and safe tracks. We advocated for the appointment by GRNSW of a central track maintenance manager and we support the objectives of a central system having oversight across all NSW tracks.
“We regret the cancellations and the inconvenience caused to participants and we are addressing all issues there connected.
“There is a balance in place [in regards to direction from GRNSW] that is well meaning but I think we can improve. If everybody agrees to the end objective, being as precise as possible with the processes that are to apply should work to the benefit of all.
“I will say that I am confident in the quality of our relationship with GRNSW and the capacity of our management and staff to get it right, going forward.”
In addition to Maitland and Gosford, part of Richmond's Wednesday meeting was also canned due to extreme weather, whilst Dubbo lost the last three races on its Thursday card due to power outages.
Whilst agreeing welfare must come first, many trainers who spoke to Australian Racing Greyhound, including Terry Priest, could not fathom why issues with the tracks are arising so frequently in recent weeks.
“I don't understand why we are having these problems when there are procedures set in place in order to have the tracks prepared to meet certain standards – obviously there is an issue with communication between the stewards and the curators who are preparing the tracks,” Priest said.
“To throw the blame is very hard, I don't think you can just blame one party, but this is a big problem because it is happening on a regular occurrence.”
Prominent Londonderry trainer Alan Proctor, who brought eight greyhounds to Gosford on Thursday night, said he believes the problems are stemming from a new track surface which has been introduced across the state in order to reduce injury rates.
“It's not the curators – they are getting blamed for it – but it's what they working with,” Proctor said.
“The problem is with the actual surfaces they are using – but GRNSW won't take it on board because they don't think there is an issue.
“I have been in the game for 47 years. I try and [promote] the sport – when the ban was announced I had TV cameras out here, The Telegraph and the local paper – just to help the sport.
“Not only is it me as a trainer, but I have owners who rely on their prize money.
“The costs are so dear that you have got to have prize money coming in – I got $100 unplaced yesterday but that wouldn't even cover the trip up when you consider the petrol and cost of the generator to air-condition the trailer.
“This is killing us – the owners and trainers – we can't even trial our dogs, let alone race them.”
Priest worries that the authority body and clubs are not being held accountable when meetings are being abandoned, which is having a negative impact on trainers.
“We have got no voice as trainers with the way the industry is being run,” he said.
“It is one-way governance at the moment… they are not allowing for any input from the trainer and there is no leeway.
“We have been inundated with changes and there is no communication or accountability from the [GRNSW] side of the fence – whereas we are held accountable for every single thing we do.
“It is taking the sport away from the participants.”
With GRNSW currently operating without a CEO at the helm since the retirement of Paul Newson, Priest says he fears for the future direction of the sport.
“There are big problems as a result of not having a CEO – we are rudderless. We have got no one who has been in the industry for a long time up there representing us – all the knowledge and experience is just being washed away.
“You have track maintenance managers who have been doing this for years and are very intelligent – who have been preparing safe tracks for years – and now they are being asked to reinvent the wheel.
“It is getting to the point where the administration of the sport is making it impossible to train.
“In business you don't have to work harder to make things better, you just have to work smarter. The smarter you work, the better things will be, but at the moment everyone is just trying to work too hard and nothing is getting done.
“We haven't got anyone in there making the crucial decisions – it is a very strange situation that the game is in – we are self destructing.”
Clarence Town trainer Natasha Benhard, who took two dogs to Gosford on Thursday in separate cars to ensure they were kept cool in the air-conditioning, said the current climate of greyhound racing could force hobby trainers out of the industry.
“A lot of people are now asking if the [regulators] are there to help us or are they undermining us all the time and trying to force people to the brink and to the point where they say ‘to hell with this' and get out of the industry?” Benhard said.
Benhard also quizzed why the decision to abandon the meeting was not made sooner in order to save participants making the long trek to the track.
“I don't know why the decision wasn't made more promptly to save people having to travel.
“People were hot under the collar [on Thursday] – but they had reason – you have to come up with a better excuse than ‘we've called it off' after they have already arrived at the track.”
All three trainers questioned how the track could have deteriorated so rapidly, given a successful meeting was held on Tuesday night, followed by trials on Wednesday evening.
“How can the track go from being great on Tuesday to good on Wednesday for the trials and then to [bad] on the Thursday without someone being able to notice it?” Benhard said.
“I am not going to say what they should be doing because I really don't know, but if there is someone that's telling them how to prepare the tracks then the requirements should be made public to participants too.”
Scott said there was no difference in how the track was prepared ahead of Thursday's meeting in comparison to Tuesday's.
“The track was prepared to the same standard as the race meeting two nights prior,” Scott said.
“Our staff was confident in the preparation of the track, but the stewards' inspection and subsequent consultation with the on-course veterinary deemed the track a racing risk.
“Track staff were consulted at that point and supported the decision. I think there is an argument to suggest that the track would have been raced on in previous times.
“I am also confident that with minor tinkering of lead up procedures, the circumstances can and will be avoided in the future. We will also work with GRNSW to ensure that a system is in place that avoids, where at all possible, cancellations at such a late stage.”
Scott did admit issues with the track surface are the responsibility of the clubs themselves, in this instance the GBOTA, and says further training for staff will be implemented where required.
“Track preparation is a club responsibility with GRNSW applying independent oversight,” he said.
“We need to accept that the end aim here is about safe racing and eradication of as many injuries as possible. Setting high expectations is part of the process but training is central to success.
“For my part, I intend working with GRNSW to improve training and support wherever possible. I believe in the end game but the training and support is super critical.
“The greyhound industry faces a future where-by safe racing is a fundamental pillar of our operating model. So I'm not sure that we should be too concerned at the height of the performance bar.
“I do think, however, we need to make sure that all industry stakeholders have ‘buy in' to where we are heading and why.
“The safe racing objective needs to be defined, the targets fully understood by all stakeholders and best practice standards need to be applied and modified as constructive feedback demands.”
BobWhitelaw lone widow bring in the SUPER TRACKS quickly as.
BobWhitelaw lone widow The two turn tracks work in the UK where the lure is on the outside. What is being suggested in NSW is to change the tracks to suit the artificial lure and my thoughts are we should be changing the artificial lure system to suit the tracks. With the advent of drone technology the economics favour lure technology getting cheaper and track design getting dearer. The greyhound racing in the UK with the outside hare is much more exciting than the racing in NSW where we grade or program dogs like dodgem cars to crash together on the… Read more »
A COLLAPSABLE LURE SYSTEM…ARM IS PULLED IN AND AVOIDS COLLISONS WITH DOGS GOING BACK INTO RACE THE WRONG WAY.
SEEK AND YE SHALL FIND…………
gives you a hint early,then wants a fee to continue……. based on the first few paragraphs though,the usual VILLIAN in race track injuries,is surface and maintenance……and some of these reports go back quite a few years. so things have not changed it appears. in VICTORIA,especially when heats and definitely the final,tracks are SPED-UP to draw crowds.so does the club actually consider WELFARE when attracting patrons? seems maybe not,as crowds love to hear the right words when being tempted to ‘come along’ for fast,speedy racing. the USA have deeper track sand surface,,,,,,,,,,,,,has a study been undertaken why? Best Practice Track Maintenance… Read more »
BRUCE TEAGUE,former reporter for this site,also got into the debate. and all these are old stories yet zero has been done.
alright for BAIRD and his cahoots moaning and groaning,get iff ya bucket butts and get some scientific research done to solve the issues.
nah,to costly,best we close it down.
spyman Hi these videos might help explain a few things. The greyhound gallops in a circular motion as does a large cat.
Hope these videos come out okay and a great bit of spotting by you.
spyman PS There are other videos Greyhounds V on the o tube site . The circular rotary galloping action makes the greyhound suitable for racing around turns?. so it is the lure in someways that causes the awkward entry to the turns?.
It is at least worth a look at obviously if you are using track builders as experts on greyhound welfare they will naturally look at the problems from a track building perspective.
Also congratulations to Michael Eberand and Barking Bad for their Group victory, great effort.
spyman Well Gale Grnsw engaged David Eager (Engineer )form University of Technology Sydney early 2016 for research into track surfaces and track infrastructure. Bruce Teague , Brian Barrington and myself where ask to contribute to this research. Bruce and I spent most of the day with David Eager and Brian was a no show and i believe it was productive day with the information we provided.Now with Ban by Baird ,the research then was suspended until lately where the research is back on the agenda and now i believe the final results will not be ready until early 2018
BobWhitelaw spyman 2018 BOB? gosh,wont hold me breath.
was there a highlight with that meeting that indicated issues by DAVID EAGAR?
spyman BobWhitelaw No highlights as he knew nothing about Greyhound Racing,but it was obvious it was a major project for him, and as he stated our input was a great start to his research re track infrastructure ,track surfaces,with the emphasis on what will effect the racing greyhound when racing .How ever i did point out ,don’t just use one track for you research,they are all different ?
one wonders whether worrying about tracks is worth the effort after hearing what I have.
seems more stink is coming,and a rotten stink it is.
All may not be lost when it comes to funding new track designs and upgraded maintenance. The government stated in its press release dated 11 Oct 2016 that Morris Iemma will chair the reform panel that will determine the new regime including :(in part )”substantial increased resources for enforcement and prosecution as well as animal welfare.”The reform panels terms of reference state in point 4. to make “recommendations relating to track design with view to eliminating injuries. “ As with all negotiations there must be give and take. The alliance has a couple of cards it can play here. The… Read more »
Trevor H Democracy (the art of the possible) might be a horrible system of Government but it beats the system that is running second. Metropolitan situation involves Randwick on a saved colonial lease 99 years, absent landlords (Trust 3 members) and Metropolitan funding outside of the all codes arrangements. (Event funding). Wentworth Park is under the Reserve Crown Lands Act. Had a hostile trust previously of 7 landlords on complex and other ex officio positions, Inferior usage licence agreement, other complex income goes to trust and trust refuses to pay past debts to the greyhounds. The horses get rewarded for becoming… Read more »
Trevor H Trevor i agree with most of what you are saying, my mail is we will sacrifice a lot more then what the government is offering.Two big ticket items are restrictions on Breeding ( a restraint of trade) , and Six dog fields, there that’s just a couple, as for Wenthworth Park is concerned the joint has been costing the industry $ 400.000 a year to be there and rising each year and the GBOTA internal audit confirmed that and government know that. Regardless of what the legislation will be, if the funding is not there the industry will… Read more »
BobWhitelaw Trevor H The breeding quotas are an interesting debate. If corner start races are scrapped in the name of safety breeding will no doubt resort to the mantra of years gone past. Strong sires breeding strong race dogs. Such as Zoom Top winning over 700 then backing up four days later and winning over 457.That is something that excites the masses. It would seem the jolly green giants appetite for unlimited race meetings has seen the proliferation of 400 metre dogs. Smaller fields might be a new idea in our area but not overseas. Juveniles in America mainly race in… Read more »
Trevor H BobWhitelaw Serious injury in racehorses research is put down to a factor of speed. Speed generally comes from breeding fine animals at the expense of bone density. A freak horse with heavy bone density becomes the champion, breeding horses for speed will see more horses get into the top ranks so the stand out champion gets harder and harder to stand above the pack. The recommendation of the ten year study on the horses in the UK (published in the Scientist) was that consideration should be given to breeding “fine sires to “heavy mares” and visa versa. Handicapping rather… Read more »
BobWhitelaw lone widow
Bob, given that you agree we need bigger tracks for todays bigger dogs, you have stated that some of the tracks i have mentioned have no room for expansion.
If that means we carry on as normal and accept the broken hocks and other injuries, Mike Baird will close it all down.
Why couldn’t each of these tracks (and others) be rebuilt one at a time over a period of say 5 years on larger blocks of land?
lone widow BobWhitelaw As i see it the clubs over all these years have tried to up grade the tracks on the cheap with no knowledge of the best infrastructure for the racing greyhound they just build a track and hope for the best. a fine example is our latest addition The Gardens Ex Soccer ground and the NCA leading us to believe it is a replica of Sandown that spin was the greatest load of sh*t i’ve ever heard of ,but the participant fell for it again ,why because 95% of them have never been or seen Sandown, its reprehensible… Read more »
BobWhitelaw lone widow
Similarly the new Cannington was modeled on Sandown.
What is it about Sandown that has them all by the short and curlies? Ask Bruce Teague how many broken hocks at Sandown compared to other tracks?
Sandown must have an impressive restaurant and toilets…. THATS IT!!
John Tracey lone widow spyman BobWhitelaw
John, i found it interesting that you mentioned complete circle tracks could be safest because the greyhounds can not reach top speed.
The Wentworth Park track record 29.27secs was run at an average rate of 17.76 mtrs per second, yet the Casino track a complete circle with a turn radius of 73 mtrs, the 484 mtr track record run by ‘Weekend Binge’ in 27.14 secs averaged 17.83 mtrs per second.
It would be interesting to know the injury rates for Casino?
lone widow John Tracey spyman BobWhitelaw My perception of what is going on has changed a bit following research on the natural coursing of greyhounds, the conclusions drawn from the Gillette research on the measurement of greyhound strides etc and the accurate mapping of greyhound tracks to scale by the mapping company “Nearmap”. The greyhounds racing in groups around turns is critical as you point out but the there are many complexities involved as well. It is now possible to put an accurate drawing of a track against the drawings of all tracks to scale and count a greyhounds number of strides and measure… Read more »
John Tracey lone widow spyman BobWhitelaw John, what seems to have been lost in this debate is the different training methods or OHS as you have pointed out. Some dogs are relatively soft and supple, some others are in reasonable race condition and some are in hard racing condition, and even others are like a coil spring. I remember Bruce Teague arguing that today’s stayers were incapable of backing up week to week in a lot of instances. I would put Zoom Top in the coil spring category. As has been documented if Zoom Top didn’t win on the saturday night Hec Watt… Read more »
John Tracey lone widow spyman BobWhitelaw Come on John,you can not have one without the other ,today’s track structures haven’t changed since Chief Havoc days lol
BobWhitelaw John Tracey lone widow spyman
Apart from the introduction of sand Bob.
It seems they are going to persist with the smaller two turn tracks, so if the turf doesn’t work, the sand don’t work, surely another look at synthetics is not off the cards. They could even increase banking angles without worrying about the weather, lol
John Tracey Trevor H Is a tennant of crown land (GBOTA-W.Park) allowed to enter into a development agreement on such land. The Panthers Group proposal for development of W.Park saw the dogs in a favourable in principle arrangement for a fully funded facility in Western Sydney. Could this still be an option towards a centre of excellence. The precinct that was mooted involved other recreational facilities, accommodation,food and dining .There was also talk of involving the trots. This would see the dogs as one part of an entertainment precinct with a large audience, run by a professional business organization. I was… Read more »
Trevor H John Tracey Trevor there needs to be an open inquiry into the whole metropolitan adventure from start to finish. The short answer is that the Greyhounds are under a licence agreement at Wentworth Park and only have usage rights and not tenant rights to develop Land under various acts. The courts can decide whether an contractual arrangement is in reality a lease or a licence under the various legislative acts and often do. For example under the Act that determines the payment of council rates racing was regarded as the lessee (Tenant) for the purposes of charging rates. The… Read more »
Well ,Thank God for the Cessnock Greyhound Club . Up to last Thursday the 20th the Newcastle Gardens Track was without a cable to conduct their Friday and Saturday meetings as a new one was weeks away, which would have been disruptive to racing in the Hunter region over January. Yes the Cessnock club loaned the Newcastle Track their spare cable so their meetings could go a head, that’s what this industry must do, support each other ,no matter what !.