GREYHOUND Racing Victoria is currently celebrating a successful night of racing at The Meadows last Saturday, with 12 heats of the Group 1 Maturity Classic run and won.
But it was what they failed to mention that caught the eye. Seven of the 12 heat winners were bred and born in New South Wales – with runners originating from north of the border filling 47 of the 95 starting boxes on one of the biggest nights of Victorian racing.
One of the NSW greyhounds which saluted was Ultimate Magic, trained by Anthony Azzopardi on behalf of Hunter Valley owner/breeders Deborah and Brett May.
By Magic Sprite out of the May’s prolific producer Daydream, Ultimate Magic had to work hard to find the front, holding off a late challenge to score by 0.7 lengths in 30.32.
NSW greyhound racing is currently facing the toughest battle of its history, with Premier Mike Baird announcing plans to ban the sport as of July 1, 2017.
While winning a heat of a group 1 series is usually cause for celebration, Brett May told Australian Racing Greyhound it was hard to get too excited given the current climate.
“It is very hard to enjoy the win, the spirit was knocked out of us a bit and it is hard to get too enthused,” he said.
“We have been trying to establish our two stud dogs and we have put a lot of money into it to get us where we are.
“Things were going well and we were selling a few services, but now everything has stopped in its tracks and realistically it could be the end of it.
“We have probably spent $30,000 getting our greyhound kennels set up over the last few years, so all that has gone by the wayside now.
“We have sunk a lot of money into it, but everyone is in the same boat…it’s not just us.”
Brett said it is scary to think of what will happen next, with no clear direction from Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) or the state government as to what will occur with the dogs currently being trained interstate.
“Anthony (Azzopardi) has five of our dogs at the moment… but there is a lot of uncertainty with not knowing what’s going to happen in the next 12 months.
“We are all still in the dark – no one knows what’s going to happen and that’s the hardest part of all.
“Interstate people rely heavily on NSW dogs for their racing stock so its probably going to have a flow on effect.
“It’s not very pleasant to think about.”
You only have to look at the honour roll for the feature races around the nation to see what a devastating impact the closure of the NSW greyhound industry would have on the sport nationwide.
Amazingly, of the 55 group races run so far throughout 2016, 32 of those events were won by greyhounds born and bred in NSW, with Victoria producing 12, Western Australia four, Queensland three, South Australia two and both Tasmania and New Zealand producing one each.
Plus, on a daily basis, ex-NSW greyhounds help to fill the fields across nationwide, with dogs heading to each state to continue their careers, either having been sold or transferred to another trainer.
So why aren’t governing bodies around the country rallying to save the state which supplies such a big percentage of their product?
“I think they are too scared to get involved incase something flows on to them,” Brett said, “I think they are trying to keep low at the moment.”
The silence of other authority bodies leaves responsible owners and breeders such as the Mays, who have six retired greyhounds at their property, in a difficult predicament, with a bleak future without greyhounds ahead of them if the legislation to ban greyhound racing is approved by the parliament on August 2.
“At this stage I am trying not to think about it too much…I am hoping it can be overturned and then we won’t have to worry about it,” he said.
“We were both been in tears after the announcement and we are still having sleepless nights thinking about it – I just can’t imagine not having greyhound racing in NSW.
“It’s a disgrace, it’s terrible.”