On the 6th of September 2013 Racing Queensland (RQ) issued two press releases in relation to new initiatives due to take affect from October 1st. The first press release was in relation to the new breeding incentive scheme, affectionately titled QGreys.
Taken directly from the release, “QGreys will work in line with RQs two other breeding schemes for thoroughbred and harness, QTIS and QBred. The aim of the scheme is to reward Queensland Greyhound participants for the long term future of the industry. Registering greyhounds for the QGreys breeding scheme will provide stakeholders with the opportunity of winning $750,000 in programmed events throughout the calendar year.” Initially the incentive will apply for greyhound whelped on or after October 1st 2012. The report promises “An early return on investment will be available for registered greyhounds under the breeding scheme bonuses, including:
- Up to $500 bonuses for greyhounds winning a Maiden event
- Up to $600 bonuses for greyhounds winning a Novice event
- $1000 bonus for greyhounds winning programmed City Class events for the full duration of their racing career
- $1200 for programmed Class 1 graded final events
- $600 for programmed graded events and non-group finals on class 2, 3, 4 and 6 tracks.
Like all good things it comes with a cost and breeders, owners and trainers will have to register their pups at a cost of $40.00 plus GST for greyhounds under 9 months and $140.00 plus GTS for greyhounds 9-12 months of age. Hardly seems like a good thing.
The second press release was in relation to the new operational and prizemoney restructure also due to take affect October 1st. The newly appointed Queensland Greyhound Racing Board have confirmed a number of changes to prizemoney distribution and class of race meetings on a weekly basis.
Allegedly “the overwhelming response for the return of Ipswich Saturday night TAB racing” has resulted in the meeting class changing to a Class 2 status.”
“The new operational strategy will outline prizemoney allocation changes in South-East Queensland which will be tiered in relation to track class and distance for a particular race meeting and maiden prizemoney will be increased to equal graded prizemoney.
Additionally non-TAB prizemoney will be standardised with all non-TAB race clubs to receive equal prizemoney distribution. The change in Class for Ipswich Saturday Night has resulted in Albion Park Sunday being re-classified as Class 4.”
Furthermore the release talks about an upcoming release about a revamped grading policy developed by the newly established Grading Committee. The full details of the release can be found on the Greyhound Racing Queensland webpage.
At first glance both of these releases and incentives should appear to be welcome changes to a struggling Queensland Industry. For the most part it’s another desperate gulp of air from a drowning industry clearly lacking leadership and direction.
QGreys appears to be like most breeding bonuses before it. Whilst successful in some states – (Western Australia for example) it is just a method of propping up a struggling industry. It doesn’t address the fundamental issues affecting the current status of racing.
The Prizemoney increase is a welcome bonus, as are some of the changes in relation to the new operational structure. Here, the big winner is the Saturday night Ipswich Class 2 meetings which will be TAB covered and on trial for 3 months from October 1st.
Unfortunately these new initiatives still fail to address the serious concerns of the industry, the same that are spoken about time and time again. Here are just 4.
Promised New Track
Racing Queensland and the defunct group before it have failed to deliver on any promises on new track development. The question has to be is why is this not occurring? What aren’t we being told?
As noted in countless media releases Cronulla Park Logan has been the preferred and approved option for a number of years. The stand alone complex has the support of local government and the industry. The site is in a perfect growth corridor for future developments and money has been spent designing plans for the site. Most importantly it has the potential to be a two track facility and generate income through other means (catering, functions, and joint office space).
The industry was also promised compensation from the closure of the Parklands, Gold Coast. Has this happened and if so where has the money been used.
Queensland Track closures have crippled the industry – closures have occurred at Lawnton, Toowoomba, Beenleigh and Gold Coast. This smoke and mirrors approach to management is the latest ploy of leadership lacking direction and not listening to the voice of participants. The industry continues to suffer on broken promises made by governments and administrations of past. When a decision is made into development the industry can finally look forward to successful growth and prizemoney taking care of itself.
Racing Queensland should push for TAB distribution based on its market share. Too long the industry has been propping up the other codes, noticeably harness racing. If the industry is handed what it is worth the prizemoney increases will take care of itself.
Let’s fight for our rightful share and disperse these funds into our industry. Let’s take stock of what’s ours. Let’s use these funds to develop quality racing and races. Doing so will ensure that prizemoney takes care of itself.
These new initiatives contradict what was said only a short while ago. TAB coverage had left Saturday night Ipswich and trainers and owners were racing maiden dogs who were unable to gain a start anywhere else. Ipswich had stated that maidens were ineligible to race on Tuesday and Friday’s. They raced on Saturday and only for a pittance. Races were $500 split – $300.00 win, $100.00 second, $50.00 third with $10.00 for fourth.
Now within weeks and the reinstatement of temporary TAB coverage, the racing class changes to Class 2 and prizemoney increases 7 fold with maiden winners and graded 520m races now receiving $1400.00 in first prizemoney alone. What makes no sense is that graded events over 431m only carry a first prize of $960.00 – traditionally the preferred Ipswich distance. Graded distance races 630m and further are far better off but notably fewer races between – they carry first prize of $1525.00.
RQ have stated that the prizemoney increase is to bring the best dogs available to race at Ipswich on a Saturday night and give the new 3 month TAB coverage lease the best chance of success. The question to RQ is where are these dogs going to come from? One only has to look over the past 6 – 12 months of race fields at Thursday night Albion Park where maidens, multiple novice events, and short fields are the norm.
The issue regarding prizemoney still stems around turnover and the TAB using greyhound funds to prop up the struggling harness code. This is the first concern that should have been addressed, do this and prizemoney takes care of itself. We don’t need to rob Peter (Thursday Night) to pay Paul (Saturday TAB).
The latest release will financially reward dogs who are successful running over the distance events (that appears to be races in excess of 520m). The problem here is that breeding over a number of years has failed to build a solid base for this to occur. Stayers were the unwanted and we pushed for fast dogs who could sprint. As such – we don’t have the calibre of staying dogs that we should. There have been many wonderful performers over the distance events – Miata included, but these appear to be by accident. A good stayer is a licence to print money. This short term approach won’t fix decades of poor breeding.
The foot note of the prizemoney and rescheduling talks about a change in Queensland Grading – this has been called for by participants for as long as one cares to remember.
It can’t come soon enough – the Victorian Model appears to be the best in the country. A greyhound that has won in excess of 20 races and $100,000 and yet travels to Warragul for the first time on a Tuesday night is still a 5th grade. They must be doing something right. Change grading, not prizemoney – that will stop poor performing dogs filling staying events.
Racing Queensland is failing to attract quality competitors for its feature races. 2013 has been marred by small fields. The Group events have been littered by local grade 5 greyhounds. While we struggle to fill the feature events, we struggle to fill the grandstands too. A night at the track is an unwanted burden for most. The public can’t interact with the dogs and what’s worse is some trainers don’t engage either. It should be a selling point. The night at the dogs should inspire people to get involved. RQ cant be solely at fault here. Clubs and industry participants stand at fault here – we can make a change to make Greyhound racing the spectacle of years past.
The latest release from RQ is another example of an industry suffering zero leadership and direction. The talk of changes is just that talk. We need RQ to address the issues that affect the whole of industry – only then will we see change and the industry moving forward.