NATIONAL coverage: Nothing could be more helpful to the industry than the RIC recommendation that a consistent national approach would be better than six or seven individual ones. Yet we have long had the opportunity to do it – particularly for Racing Rules – and have refused to go down that road.
“Special” local conditions are the reasons and the excuse. This is a massive cop-out and is due purely to interstate jealousies, empire building etc, etc. It is singly the most harmful factor affecting the progress of greyhound racing. Racing Ministers should put this at the top of their lists along with the creation of a national betting pool.
A Culling Perspective: McSporran QC, the RIC and the state Veterinary Officer all mentioned a perceived need to improve the way slow or superseded dogs are handled. They were talking mostly from a record-keeping viewpoint but the RIC termed current practice as “unacceptable”.
Neither offered much in the way of solutions, and nor should they. It was outside their brief and their competence and it is a highly complex subject anyway, but obviously it needs attention.
Having said that, any future discussions between racing authorities and “animal welfare” groups, including the RSPCA, should be conditional on agreement about three matters:
1. The elimination of lies from the welfare manifesto. One of the silliest of those would be banners calling for an end to government subsidies of the industry. Currently, gambling taxes provide at least one dollar in every ten of government income.
2. The production of data on culling, euthanasia, etc in horses, cats and other dog breeds as well as greyhounds. Note that cats, along with wild dogs, are the greatest killers of other animals in Australia, leading to near or total extinction of some species. What about a ban on cats?
3. A practical answer to the question of what to do with 20,000 or more greyhounds if racing were to be abolished. Effectively, that would risk the disappearance of the breed.
Welfare: While the subject in general is important, the RIC recommendation that a “Welfare” representative sit on the GRV board is absolutely ridiculous.
Certainly, animal lover groups should be regularly consulted and their views considered. However, the majority of such groups are opposed not just to greyhound breeding but to greyhound racing entirely. They want it banned. Many also oppose horse racing.
It is ethically impossible for such people to sit on a racing board. The perceived need could be handled readily by a veterinarian, which was actually a common practice years ago.
Ordinary Folk: The RIC recommended that stewards should have more power over “unlicensed persons”, whatever that means. This goes down a dangerous route.
Already they have the ability to remove persons from a racecourse in certain circumstances – eg misbehaviour. However, the law of the land and the rights of citizens should take preference over whatever else the RIC has in mind. That’s why we have police.
More investigation needed
Why on earth would you give Sweet It Is a dose of caffeine? Against a pack of medium class NZ warriors and over a distance (779m) that suits her even better than most other dogs on the planet? And in a feature race where winners are always tested? And after making an international trip to do it? And after performing no differently to its many runs on this side of the Tasman?
It makes no sense.
I know I am jumping to conclusions but I have to suspect the whole thing has got out of hand. The Australasian zero-tolerance policy is fine in theory but this illustration suggests that the world and greyhound racing need to get their act together.
Again I bring to notice the Gai Waterhouse stablehand defence that he brushed up against a known cocaine user in the local pub. Then there is the former Australian decathlon Olympian who demonstrated that he drank fourteen cups of coffee daily – he got off, too. It’s no secret that caffeine is present in a myriad of everyday stuff you buy in the supermarket. It doesn’t matter whether you are a mum, a dad, a kid or an athlete, you are at risk. Coke (both sorts) and coffee, or even a cup of tea, are just the tips of the iceberg.
The industry needs to know and hear more detail about amounts and sources for these drugs, if only to set the scene for future court battles. If they need any help, the young lady at NCIS might be useful.
Meantime, Sweet It Is’ record breaking runs in NZ were good but really nothing out of the box. Here’s a comparison: