A huge cloud hangs over last nights inaugural running of the Macro Meats Dapto Megastar final, after it was revealed that the winner, Mr. Metz was allowed to start in the final despite seemingly being ineligible.
The Ron Ball trained Mr. Metz returned to Dapto, the track where he started his impressive career by winning the 2009 Group 3 Dapto Maiden; and demolished the partially hand picked field in the $25,000 to the winner Dapto Megastar final, leading all the way from box to finishing post.
The win represents Mr. Metz’s third group race win, having won the 2009 Dapto Maiden and the 2009 Group 1 Brisbane Cup. He has also been placed in the 2010 Group 1 Adelaide Cup and was selected to start in the 2010 Group 1 Topgun before finishing last.
But the real story revolves around Mr. Metz’s eligibility to even start in the race, after he weighed in at kenneling 2.5kg heavier that his last recorded race weight.
Under NSW Greyhound Racing Rules, greyhounds are expected to weigh within 1 kilogram of the weight recorded at their last start (Greyhound Racing Rule 39(1)). Greyhounds who vary more than one kilogram but less than 2 kilograms from one start to the next can be allowed to race if the greyhound hasn’t raced for more than 28 days and the trainer makes a written application to GRNSW Stewards at the time of kenneling (Greyhound Racing Rule 39(2)). Where weight variations of more than 2 kilograms are sought by the trainer, the greyhound must complete a satisfactory weight trial before stewards, before being allowed to compete in an event (Greyhound Racing Rule 40(1)).
At last night’s Dapto Megastar meeting Mr. Metz weighed in at kenneling at 36.2kg.
Mr. Metz’s previous start was at Capalaba on the 1st May 2010 and on that day the scales did not operate and no weight was recorded. In circumstances such as this, it is traditional to record no weight or to record the same weight as the start prior.
Prior to the Capalaba race Mr. Metz started at The Meadows on the 20th February 2010 and his weight recorded that night was 33.7. That weight effectively becomes his last recorded weight.
The variation from Mr Metz’s last recorded weight and his weight last night was 2.5kg, more than the maximum allowed under Greyhound Racing Rules 39(1) and 39(2).
On the same day in New South Wales, GRNSW Stewards at the Maitland greyhound racing meeting scratched the Lena Sweetman trained Dun Duckety under Greyhound Racing Rule 39(1) because the greyhound weighed in 2.5kg heavier than his last start, despite there being more than two months between starts. The trainer was also fined $55 for the weight variation.
At the same meeting greyhounds Travolta and So Petite were allowed to start under Greyhound Racing Rule 39(2), after both greyhounds weighed in more than 1kg heavier, but less than the 2kg maximum allowed.
According to last night’s official GRNSW Stewards report from Dapto, which was made available at 10:30am this morning; GRNSW Stewards determined that “Greyhound Racing Rules do not directly provide for the matter” and that they “allowed Mr Metz to take its place in the field under rule 20 (3) (r) and also had clarification under Rule 11”.
Greyhound Racing Rule 20(3) is a broad, all encompassing rule which essentially gives Stewards their powers to control and regulate a meeting and and specifically to “determine any act, matter or thing that arises but is not provided for by the Rules”.
Greyhound Racing Rule 20 in its generality deals largely with conditions and situations about withdrawing greyhounds or removing persons, rather than providing an avenue to include greyhounds in to races who have on the face of it, not complied with other sections of the rules.
GRNSW Stewards also cited Greyhound Racing Rule 11, which gives direction for matters not provided for in rules, and states that the “Controlling Body shall be the sole decider of whether any matter, issue, question, contingency or circumstance is or is not provided for in these Rules”.
However, the argument that GRNSW Stewards use to support their discretionary use of powers in this case is only valid if infact it can be clearly determined that the situation isn’t provided for in the current rules.
Greyhound Racing Rule 39(1) clearly states that “Where the weight of a greyhound varies by more than 1 kilogram from the weight recorded in an Event or satisfactory weight trial in which it last performed the greyhound shall not be permitted to compete in the Event..”.
Clearly where no weight is recorded at the most immediate past event, the start prior becomes the last performance where a weight was recorded. In fact, many NSW trainers will testify that GRNSW Stewards and GHHRA Stewards before them have routinely used that theorem to manage situations such as this in the past.
Why did GRNSW Stewards break from that tradition at last night’s Dapto meeting and decide the situation was not described under the current rules of racing?
Surely the situation has occurred many times in the past without GRNSW Stewards finding the need to determine that rules of greyhound racing were deficient in this area.
Why was this determination made last night, for the very first time in this writers recent memory?
Lena Sweetman and her greyhound Dun Duckety are $55 worse off this morning, Ron Ball and Mr. Metz are $25,000 richer; and yet both seem to have much in common.