GREYHOUND Racing NSW (GRNSW) may have just killed greyhound racing a year before it becomes illegal, with the controlling body suspending non-TAB racing pending an internal review into track safety, integrity and animal welfare.
The inquiry follows the release of the Special Commission of Inquiry report which outlined 79 points which could alleviate concerns surrounding the sport’s integrity and animal welfare.
While I am in no way disapproving of the motives behind the review, alienating our grass roots participants could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
With all due respect to country trainers and their dogs, in most cases these greyhounds are in the bush because they have no other option.
Deemed ‘too slow’ for TAB racing, many have been sent bush by their owners to somewhere they feel they will be competitive; be it Cowra, Lithgow, Tamworth, or any of the 18 non-TAB clubs operating in the state.
There are no ‘big’ trainers in the bush – these are the battlers. The people who have two or three dogs in the kennel at home and take them to the track each weekend for a bit of fun – if they happen to win, its a bonus.
That has now been stopped in its tracks for God knows how long. So what are these country folk supposed to do in the meantime?
They can’t pack up their team and drive, in some cases, up to six hours to find a TAB track – their greyhounds would be lucky to gain a start and even if they did they would probably be lapped.
These are the greyhounds with nowhere else to go – so what incentive do their trainers have to keep them now? What is someone with 12 dogs supposed to do? How can they afford to pay for their dogs if there is no chance of earning prize money?
Once again, I am not knocking the decision to inspect the tracks, it should be done, but what is not acceptable is the lack of communication between the authority body and the participants.
The sudden decision to review every non-TAB track is clear misadministration in my eyes. Why has an external Commission of Inquiry into the sport been able to find faults with the country tracks, yet GRNSW has allowed racing week after week without any concerns being flagged?
If GRNSW was doing its job properly it would have had some idea that certain tracks were not up to standard and there would be no reason to cease racing at 18 of the 33 tracks within the state – that’s over half of the tracks in NSW which cannot race because of poor regulation.
The interim CEO of GRNSW Paul Newson, who took over the position from Brent Hogan, a casualty of the live baiting scandal, has much to answer for. His resignation and subsequent announcement of an administrator being appointed to preside over the death of the industry is staggering. His lack of leadership since the scandal broke indicates he has known this was coming for months. He never was the right man to help an industry reform because he simply didn’t care.
Importantly, with just 12 months left of racing if the Baird government’s legislation is passed, GRNSW and the clubs are unlikely to spend a single cent improving any tracks, especially those on the non-TAB circuit when there is no chance of earning revenue from betting.
And just how long is this review process going to take? The heavy handed decision by GRNSW to suspend all non-TAB racing could drag out for months, we don’t know because the authority body has failed to detail how long it will take.
This has country participants shaking in their boots. These poor people feel like they have lost their racing already, less than a week after Mike Baird’s announcement that the sport would close on July 1, 2017.
There needs to be more consultation by GRNSW with these participants, to reassure them that racing will return within ‘x’ amount of time if everything goes smoothly throughout the review process.
If they can’t do this then GRNSW must provide these battlers with a support package to ensure they can afford to feed and take care of their dogs throughout this period.
We are talking about the grass roots, the heart and soul of our industry. These people and their dogs are the ones that need our support if GRNSW are really concerned about welfare.