No longer considered the poor cousin of horse racing, greyhounds present a cheaper opportunity for those wishing to become involved in the Australian Racing Industry. With racing happening everyday, now is the time to sell the product and encourage people to get involved.
The opportunity to own a greyhound has never been more attractive. With a greyhound set to pass 1 million in prizemoney, people are starting to take more than a passing interest in getting involved. Add the lower cost compared with the other codes and we should be turning people away. So why aren’t we?
For a sport that was once accessible to everyone the greyhound industry has done little in recent years to encourage new participants. From poor race scheduling to negative media attention the industry is in desperate need of change. Only then will growth begin and this great product reach the heights needed to survive.
Race scheduling has made it impossible for any person working full time the ability to attend the track. Let alone train their own dogs – the very foundations that the industry was built upon. Kennelling requirements and travel to and/or from a gridlocked city make it not worth the hassle. Owners want to watch their dogs and be apart of the thrill. Add track closures and uncertainty over where the industry is headed and you can see why people don’t want to be involved let alone invest their hard earned money.
Another challenge confronting the industry is the continued inability to cater for slower dogs. Saturday night racing at Ipswich has given a lifeline to some dogs but poor prizemoney won’t keep people involved for long. The wait and excitement of rearing the dog from puppy to first starter is exciting and full of anticipation. It quickly turns to frustration and disappointment when the dog won’t make the grade let alone have a start on the track. Another way to turn first time owners away from owning a second time. Non-tab races might provide the dog with a second opportunity but it won’t encourage the owner.
Limited information is available from clubs on how to get involved. Approaching trainers at the track is daunting and most have no time to speak to someone seeking assistance. Whilst some trainers are helpful most don’t have time. Ringing breeders for advice and assistance can often have the same outcome.
The internet provides an opportunity for keen first timers to research what is involved. Facebook has taken the world by storm. The problem, there are more negative facebook pages then positive. Greyhound horror stories, pictures of neglected and injured dogs is turning potential owners away faster than it is attracting them. The comments that the sport is cruel, the dogs are too skinny and that the slow ones are killed needs to change.
Victorian greyhounds have reached out to industry participants and encouraged participation. Themed days, positive advertising and strategic partnerships with groups such as the McGrath foundation have opened new doors. Not to mention prizemoney levels and many more races and opportunities for dogs means that competition for new owners will remain. The product is here we just need to capitalise on it.
The new board will face many challenges and attracting new participants is just one of them. Queensland racing must decide the direction of the industry. The uncertainty must be addressed, and decisions made on the strategic plan for the future. When this is established the next step will be to encourage and retain new participants – and this will be the responsibility of everyone to ensure the industries growth and survival.