In a move sure to win support with the punting public, but destined to cause a great deal of friction with owners and trainers, Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) today announced that all greyhounds engaged to have their first career start in a TAB maiden race will first need to compete in a performance qualifying trial to be eligible to race from 1st December 2009.
In announcing the surprise dramatic change to greyhound racing in New South Wales, GRNSW Chief Executive Brent Hogan said that the new arrangements were a proactive response by GRNSW to enhance punter confidence in NSW greyhound racing and to keep with best practice established in other codes.
“The introduction of performance qualifying trials will ensure that first start greyhounds at TAB meetings have a level of disclosed form which will mean that punters no longer need to bet blind on maiden races.
“Maiden races, where greyhounds have disclosed form, consistently hold better than those that do not.
“The new arrangements will set the standard with respect to the integrity of maiden races,” said Mr. Hogan.
While that may hold true, it has been a long held tradition among trainers and owners to set their young pups up for a “first up go”, or more plainly to get their young greyhounds ready to win and back them heavily to win at their first start.
While many of these plunges have come undone at times, they were often seen as way to recoup much of the costs of breeding, rearing, breaking and pre-training in one go.
According to the GRNSW news release, the new arrangements include:
- To be eligible to compete in a maiden event at a TAB meeting, a first start greyhound with no previous qualifying trial form must first compete in a performance qualifying trial;
- Up to two performance qualifying trials consisting of a maximum of four greyhounds will be conducted at each TAB meeting (excluding Wentworth Park);
- Nominations for performance qualifying trials will be taken by GRNSW Graders on a first received basis with nominations closing at the same time that nominations for the actual race meeting closes;
- Performance qualifying trials will be conducted under race conditions, weight variation rules will therefore apply when a greyhound subsequently contests a race;
- Greyhounds that contest a performance qualifying trial will receive a grading preference and will be drawn following greyhounds with place form in their last three starts;
- Greyhounds participating in a performance qualifying trial will be able to complete their identification clearance and receive their weight card on the day of the performance qualifying trial.
This recent move will clearly win favour with the stay at home punter and the TAB but is not likely to resonate well with the rank and file participants, who are mainly owners and trainers.
The fact GRNSW plan to only run two of these qualifying trials at each TAB meeting, catering for just eight debutants; is another move sure to rub owners the wrong way. Especially at popular training hubs like Richmond, where trainers are likely to be lining up to secure performance qualifying trials for their greyhounds over at least for of the six different distances.
GRNSW did not divulge if they would seek to enforce the prior trialling conditions uopn major NSW maiden races such as the GBOTA’s $20,000 to the winner Multiquip Magic Maiden Series at Wentworth Park. Anything up to 50-60 debutante greyhounds can be nominated for the series at times and GRNSW have made it clear they have no plans to allow these maiden performance trials at Wentworth Park.