Participants left frustrated with more rules announced

Greyhound racing
More rules are coming in for greyhound racing. PIC Paul Munt

GREYHOUND racing participants are growing concerned at the direction of the industry as more rule changes are expected to come in from March 1, 2018.

The rules are being introduced by Greyhounds Australasia and cover a wide range of subjects, including out of competition testing, treatments prior to racing and new treatment record requirements.

One of the new rules will be changes to the definition of what a prohibited substance is under GAR 1.A prohibited substance will now be defined as a substance which effects one or more of the mammalian body systems, such as the nervous system, cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, the digestive system, the musculoskeletal system, the endocrine system, the urinary system, the reproductive system, the blood system and the immune system.

Under the new rules, treatments within 48 hours prior to a race will be prohibited, including vitamins administered by injection such as Vitamin B12, Vitamin B-Complex and Vitamin C, as well as agents which can affect calcium and bone metabolism. Bi-carb soda, which some trainers use as a daily supplement on feed to stop conditions like acidosis and tying up, will also be considered a prohibited substance according to a table of examples released by GA as it is a ‘buffering agent’.

GRV is asking its participants to provide comment on the rules before they are adopted. Participants were given just over two weeks to respond, up until February 16.Greyhound Racing South Australia (GRSA) also posted the new rules on its website; however Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW), the Queensland Racing and Integrity Commission (QRIC), Racing and Wagering WA (RWWA) and the Office of Racing Integrity (Tas) failed to do the same.

Brett Bravo, who trains dual group 1 winner Striker Light, conceded he hadn’t seen the new rules yet, but said he felt offering feedback was pointless.

“I have given up plenty of my time over the years to go to meetings and seminars where there have been top trainers putting great ideas forward and they never listen to us,” Bravo said.

The leading trainer said the authorities are over-regulating the industry with too many rules; to the point where many participants are considering giving the game away.

“I am one of the lucky ones that is financially secure – I don’t need to do it; I do it because I love training greyhounds.

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“There are plenty of people though who have big mortgages and don’t know anything but the industry.

“I don’t think we have to worry about the greenies shutting us down, the authorities will do it themselves as they are making the sport un-workable.”

Fellow Victorian trainer David Geall says he understands the rules have to be enforced to catch cheats and protect the integrity of the industry, but added he feels the authorities are now over regulating and this is forcing the good people out of the game and simultaneously discouraging new people from getting involved.

“I use these natural substances on my vet’s advice on occasions when I feel it is needed to help a dog recover from a hard race or trial,” Geall said.

“Trainers don’t need to use these all the time but some greyhounds don’t recover as quickly as others and using these after races and when required will now show up in out of competition swabs which is ridiculous.

“They’ve got to stop punishing the good people and treating them like the small percentage of people doing the wrong thing.”

Geall believes it is hypocritical that participants are continuously being slapped with new regulations while the authorities are not held accountable for decisions which have been made that have not improved the greyhounds’ welfare on the track.

One issue he is passionate about is racetracks and post race accidents. He believes many dogs are not chasing the new hoop arm properly which is leading to more interference with dogs easing and running off the track. He says the solution to this issue is simple – listen to the trainers.

“Instead of spending vast amounts of money on scientific university studies and consultants, the powers that be should listen to trainers and take immediate action to replace these hoop arm lures with the smaller types used in Tasmania and New Zealand and they should be spending the money on improving existing tracks to bring them in line with the new Horsham track.

“At the end of the day, if we can reduce race interference and injuries to greyhounds and minimize non chasing greyhounds by supplying a lure that makes them want to chase it, that is what is going to keep race fields full, keep participants in the industry and enjoying it, and also encourage new people in to the game.

“This is not scientific; it is just common sense.”

It’s not just the Victorian authorities which aren’t being held accountable – NSW has been dealing with issues surrounding its tracks for 12 months. There was more drama last week when Friday’s Gosford meeting, which was moved to the Central Coast due to The Gardens being shut down due to track issues, was also abandoned due to the racing surface being deemed unsuitable for racing. NSW also lost its Wentworth Park meeting on Wednesday.

The Queensland industry is also going through a rough patch, with falling greyhound numbers as the state struggles to fill fields and full race meetings.

Got feedback? Join the discussion Hide Comments

  1. Some participants don’t seem to realise that to catch the bad apples one needs to have rules that apply to everyone. Take the road rules for example - good drivers with no demerit points have to follow the rules like everyone else. Additionally participants don’t seem to realise that they MUST be seen to be reforming IN A BIG WAY - otherwise there will be yet another Four Corners expose.

  2. So you are happy to have a breath test device added to start your car, at your cost, even though you may never have been caught drink driving? It would be standard practice because of the bad apples? Bring on the Four Corners expose, and it will expose the miss information, and that the one person who was charged is still not in jail, plus the Authorities who knew about the practice up to a year prior. Where are those charges?

  3. Mate, where are the bad apples?
    This inquisition has been going on for two or three years now.Don’t you think the smarties would have weeded out the bad apples by now?

  4. This industry requires co-operation between participants and the operators/regulators to secure its future. It has been convenient for governments, regardless of political persuasion, and the operators/regulators to deflect their failures for developing a contemporary industry culture by blaming so called “bad apple” participants (and through ignorance of the industry, assuming all participants are tainted). This deflection of responsibility to take on a change leadership role is lazily done by harsh rules, and hardline enforcement. And if reform is sought, harsh rules won’t cut it. Research, fact-based decision-making, and education are far more critical, but these are not in the armoury of the operator/regulators. I am not sure what reform the overwhelming majority of compliant participants are required to undergo, but these changes are open to too much interpretation, arguably harsh, hard-to-follow (probably even by vets), They do nothing for reform.

  5. I agree badapple which is a first, that just does not happen.
    My greyhounds have a well balanced diet, i have no need to feed supplements, they are winning races (sometimes) they have been swabbed and everything is fine. No problems.
    The only problem is people don’t like change. My advice is to take it all on board and do the right thing.
    Greyhound racing will flourish.

  6. I hope the rules keep coming. This is nothing but a blood “sport”. So less people entering a dying industry and more bad apples giving up because it’s getting harder to abuse animals without getting caught is a great thing. Looking forward to this years investigations shutting it all down. You don’t exploit who you love for cash, your not fooling anyone.

    “The confidential report by Greyhounds Australasia - the peak national body for greyhound racing - and Greyhound Racing South Australia shows that between 13,000 and 17,000 healthy dogs are killed by the industry each year out of 17,500 dogs born - a rate of between 74 and 96 per cent.”

    “Greyhound Racing NSW had expressed shock after the ABC revelations but Mr Rushton said live baiting was “rampant” and GRNSW had known about the practice “from the get-go”.”

  7. Well the self appointed moral custodians and “animal lovers” have been on the job for quite some time now - where are all those bad apples? Surely they would have found lots of them by now -if they were there.
    Then again given that most of them are either writing sanctimonious and self righteous rubbish on greyhound sites or updating their websites calling for donations to help animals ( none of which actually reach an animal but does apparently pay wages, travel, advertising and " awareness" ) it is probably understandable.
    So much easier to just make up emotive rubbish and lies to get those donations flowing.

  8. One wonders the actual reasons GA have decided to propose these new rules.Proposing a ban of vitamins and medicines that aid the welfare of racing dogs doesn’t make sense.
    Maybe GA CEO Scott Parker’s ties with radical worldwide lobbyist group GREY2K could explain this policy.

  9. Kash, you obviously have no idea that the racing industry is the cash machine that every state government uses to balance their books and hand out grants to all the minor sporting clubs. Every state only gives a “loan” that needs to be paid back, or gives nothing into their industry, but takes everything. The wagering return to the participants is only 3-4% to the horse codes and 1-2% to Greyhound codes, as prize money. That is how much cash is going out of the industry to your local kids sports clubs. So go ahead, shut the industry down with rumours, lies, and fake info, but then you can also shut down, your kids sports clubs with lack of funding, then when you are bored, start attacking those sports clubs for causing head injuries to minors, traumatic feet and ankle injuries to the Ballet and Gymnastic groups, and so on. But if you are after actual welfare facts please ask the right questions, or visit a trainer, or a track, or go onto the GA website which proves that there are no recorded figures for the stats that Scott Parker made up, thats why it confidential, the 13K to 17K figure is fictional rubbish. If you want to attack someone attack the guy who met with Greys2K, and ask him to prove his numbers. He can’t, and you keyboard warriors are sucked into believing his rubbish.

  10. I resurrected my initial response to the McHugh report. A bit long though.

    My initial view is that the “quality” is so bad it would take an enormous amount of work to discredit. It defies belief how $15 million could be justified on it.

    For an example, I decided to start with a quote from the opening remarks of Rushton concerning social licence, and add my responses. It did not take much time to establish facts and background (though there are areas where there are no definitive figures).

    The ease by which I was able to get facts makes it obvious that Rushton did nothing to validate the facts that support his social licence argument. Much are straight takes off anti-greyhound sites, with no verification. But Rushton disingenuously chose to present this as fact…

    1. Internationally there are a number of jurisdictions where greyhound racing has been banned.
      What is the number? Why not state which countries, or at least some. If referring to US states, it would be 9, being Maine, Virginia, Vermont, Idaho, Washington, Nevada, North Carolina, Massachusetts & Colorado.

    2. Australia is one of only eight countries worldwide where commercial dog racing is still permitted.
      Incorrect. It seems that most countries don’t even have rules covering greyhound racing; they either just don’t operate at a commercial level or don’t have an interest. (Using the flawed logic of the statement, one could similarly state that there are only 10 countries where commercial cricket is permitted).

    The implication of using the word “still” implies that some countries have banned it, which is not the case.

    1. In the United States, 39 states have banned commercial dog racing because it is financially unsustainable and because of serious welfare concerns.
      Incorrect. This is a straight take from anti-greyhound racing groups, and was never validated by the inquiry.

    Not only are the numbers of bans questionable, there have been no bans due to financial unsustainability, and only 2 for welfare reasons (Idaho and Vermont, which each operated only one track).

    The true position is that most bans derive from wagering. For example, Maine, Virginia & Washington never had organised greyhound racing, and decided to prevent its establishment due to potentially adverse wagering impacts.

    There are several examples where track closures have been due to takeover by casino groups or due to changing consumer tastes, but these do not represent bans due to financial unsustainability.

    1. The first bans came into place in 1993, some 22 years ago.
      Incorrect, It was North Carolina in the 1950s.

    Commercial dog racing has also ceased in four other states, although they have not yet made dog racing illegal in any statute. Track closures have nothing to do with legality; these mainly have arisen from economic circumstances; mainly being the incursion of casinos.

    1. As I speak, there are only seven states where commercial dog racing continues but it is about to become six. On 1 January 2016 the Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque will be closed. It is the last track in Texas. Greyhound racing in Texas will come to an end.
      Incorrect. There are at least 11 US states in which there is commercial greyhound racing, though it is contended that commercial greyhound racing is legal in 16 ie Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

    And greyhound racing continues to operate in Texas. There was a temporary layoff while new agreements between track owners and breeders were negotiated, and fairer wagering arrangements were revised due to competition from casinos. This was purely an issue relating to commercial terms (as seems to be the case with US sports), and nothing to do with social licence.

    1. The point I am seeking to make, Commissioner, is that in the states I have identified stakeholders in the industry withdrew the industry’s social licence to operate and the industry came to an end. Industries that use and might abuse animals require a social licence to operate."

    To summarise: The contention that there were precedents of withdrawal of social licence for other closures of the industry is unsupportable. The conclusion is undermined by falsehoods, unvalidated statements, and dishonest reasoning.

    The basis of the social licence argument is therefore fatally flawed.

    Won’t go over what I managed to do on the main report, so will just note that the inquiry is also deficient in the following respects
    • imbalanced selected of witnesses
    • reliance on witnesses who misrepresented their qualifications
    • failure to check validity of sources for data and information that was relied upon