LEADING Sydney trainer Dean Swain says he is embarrassed to be a part of the NSW greyhound racing industry which has lost another track to surface issues.
Racing has been cancelled at Gosford until further notice after a track inspection on Friday morning revealed blue metal stones are still rising through the racing surface.
The inspection was undertaken by Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) Deputy CEO Dayle Brown and his team, as well as the NSW Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association (GBOTA), which deemed the track unsafe for racing.
GBOTA Operations Manager Ellen Harris confirmed that no racing will take place at the Central Coast track until the issues are rectified.
“The NSW GBOTA advises that following [an] inspection of the racing surface, a decision has been undertaken to abandon all future meetings from Gosford until further notice,” Harris said.
“The decision comes after ongoing efforts to manage contamination in the track profile. The NSW GBOTA supports the decision and is now working with GRNSW on a comprehensive track reconstruction plan.
“A decision as to the relocation of race meetings will be undertaken with GRNSW and advice issued as soon as possible.”
Swain, who won a race at Gosford on Tuesday night, says the track should be closed down to fix the issues, but expressed his disappointment that it has gotten to this stage.
“One of the other dogs in one of my races on Tuesday night cut its foot open, I was fortunate that neither of my dogs were injured,” Swain said.
“Personally I don’t care about losing my money when the meetings are called off, but I care about how our industry looks for the other states and other racing codes.
“They would all be looking at us right now and laughing – saying what are they doing, they can’t even get their tracks right!
“This is an emergency. They need to shut down everything else they are looking at – push everything else aside until this is rectified at whatever cost.
“I love the dogs; they are my whole life, but this is just embarrassing.”
Gosford most recently lost a meeting on February 2 – ironically both meetings lost in recent weeks have been meetings which were transferred to Gosford from The Gardens after it was also shut down to repair issues with its surface.
Gosford was also closed for three months in early 2017 in order to repair issues with the track, while Harris confirmed in December that blue metal was still rising through the surface which required staff to walk the track daily to manually remove the stones.
Swain said people need to stand up and take responsibility for the track issues which have been ongoing for more than 12 months.
“If you were running a company and they were working for you, you’d sack them,” he said.
“People who can’t do their jobs need to be sacked – but they are too scared to tread on toes and make the call.
“But if they don’t stand up and make a change we are going to keep looking like idiots.”
Central Coast trainer Darryl Fitsimmons was also frustrated by the situation but said closing the track was necessary to prevent further injuries.
Fitzsimmons, who bred Paws of Thunder Finalist Dual Keroma, walked the track the morning after Tuesday’s race meeting and found several large rocks which had made their way to the surface.
Despite the track being littered with stones on Wednesday, racing still continued on Thursday afternoon.
“Any amount of blue metal on the track is unacceptable,” Fitzsimmons said.
“On Tuesday night one of my dogs was leading by three lengths down the back and should have never been run down. When she got back she had three feet affected by the blue metal.
“We might as well be racing in the car park – on Wednesday morning the home straight looked like an exposed aggregate driveway.
“It’s just not good enough – why have we been made to put our dogs around on a track which is unsafe?
“It’s not new either. In June last year we had eight dogs get injured in the space of 10 days at Gosford – injuries such as hock ligaments and groins which we had very rarely encountered before.”
Deputy CEO Dayle Brown told Australian Racing Greyhound on Friday the track had deteriorated dramatically since he had last seen it.
“I attended the track today and it had gotten considerably worse then when I last looked at it two days ago.
“I pulled some large pieces of material out of the track. We all came to the view the track was as bad as we had seen it and from a welfare point of view I didn’t think it was right to put the greyhounds across that surface.”
Officially, seven greyhounds were injured at Gosford on Thursday night – the most significant being an injured back muscle. Six greyhounds were also injured at Tuesday’s meeting according to the steward’s report.
GRNSW CEO Tony Mestrov said he was irritated by the loss of additional race meetings, but said the safety of the greyhounds must be the authority body’s top priority.
“Since we have come on board there have been a number of race meetings being called off – but we don’t want to take any risks,” Mestrov said.
“There are so many past issues that we are dealing with and making decisions on – there is a long line of issues with this track.
“We are now dealing with the GBOTA to see how we can turn this around very quickly. It’s not a good situation.
“It is frustrating, but the priority has to be the welfare of the dogs.”
Mestrov confirmed trainers engaged at Friday’s meeting will receive ‘some form of compensation’, however he said specifics will not be released until next week.
GRNSW are also working to relocate next Tuesday’s Gosford meeting, with Maitland expected to pick up the additional load of race meetings after that. The Gardens will return to racing on Friday March 2.