In a somewhat ironic twist, the person who led the recent two week greyhound strike in NSW, where leading trainers did not nominate their greyhounds to highlight the inequity of the TAB intercode agreement; has been made the focus of a stewards inquiry and GRNSW are refusing to accept nominations for his greyhounds.
Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) have announced today they will commence an inquiry into the conduct of licensed trainer Robert Whitelaw.
According to GRNSW, Mr Whitelaw has been issued with a show cause notice from GRNSW relating to comments attributed to him in various media outlets as well as the circumstances surrounding the withdrawal of Maggies A Legend from Race 8 at Wentworth Park on Friday 14 December 2012.
Rumours have abounded of trainers who nominated during the “strike”, being harassed and ridiculed, and in some cases others have suggested threats were being made against them. The supporters of the Greyhound Action Group have openly referred to those who nominated greyhounds during the “strike” as “scabs”.
Australian Racing Greyhound did receive one complaint from a connection who attended and raced greyhounds at Wentworth Park during the strike. The lady in question was abused and derogatory comments were allegedly made toward her, her partner and their elderly trainer.
According to the victim, a veiled threat was made toward the elderly trainer in his 70’s that he should “wait till I see you in the car park at Dapto”.
Australian Racing Greyhound passed the complaint on to GRNSW Chief Steward Bill Fanning, and no link has been made between the complaint and this most recent stewards inquiry in to Whitelaw.
Whitelaw and “about 20 others” were in attendance outside the Wentworth Park greyhound racing venue holding a “peaceful protest” when the incident that spawned the complaint allegedly occurred.
This current GRNSW stewards inquiry appears to be centred on Whitelaw as a consequence of his very outspoken interviews on ABC radio and with Newcastle Herald reporters since the “strike” began on December 1st 2012. Whitelaw and his supporters have also been very active on the German greyhound forum, Greyhound Data.
More recently he has been at pains to assert that GRNSW have failed in their duty of care of NSW greyhound racing, by not acting aggressively to have the TAB Intercode agreement made null and void.
The TAB intercode agreement is an agreement between the three racing codes on how they will distribute money they receive from the TAB. Rather than distribute the money according to each codes share of betting turnover on the TAB, the agreement sets a fixed distribution.
Whitelaw’s basis for his Greyhound Action Group, is that greyhound racing only receives 13% of the TAB distribution but represents 21% of its turnover.
The TAB Intercode agreement was signed in the late 90’s and is a legally binding agreement that is in place for 99 years. Each of the racing codes had their own representatives sign on to the agreement.
GRNSW have advised that the hearing in to Whitelaw’s actions and comments will take place at the offices of GRNSW at 11am on Tuesday 8 January 2013.
Acting under the provisions of LR 21 (9), GRNSW will refuse nominations of greyhounds in which Mr Whitelaw holds an interest either as an owner or a trainer until he has responded to the show cause notice.