Chief Executive of GRV Adam Wallish has overseen the introduction of the new measures after much consultation with the industry through strategic consultation sessions, industry surveys, grading specific consultation sessions and feedback from the Greyhound Owners Trainers and Breeders Association (GOTBA).
Overall, 14 recommendations will be adopted, the most significant amendment involves the grading of “Associated Greyhounds”. The “Associated Greyhounds” rule has been introduced as a direct result of industry feedback and is perhaps the most controversial of the 14 modifications.
Local Rule 28.7 States:
“The GRV Grader may impose a limit on the number of Associated Greyhounds eligible to compete in a particular race in accordance with the grading guidelines as amended from time to time.”
In laymen’s terms this means the rule limits the number of greyhounds owned, trained or associated with any member to two per race. Exceptions will be made for Grade 4 and above, as well as distance race categories. The other stipulation is the GRV grader will have the power to add nominated associated greyhounds to fields in the event that nominations are extended and to ensure field sizes and race numbers are maintained wherever possible in the best interests of greyhound racing.
This caveat to the rules brings Victoria into line with other States, including New South Wales and South Australia, which have operated under this structure for some time.
It is anticipated this new rule will come into effect on August 1, 2014.
The implications of the associated greyhounds directive will perhaps not be fully known for some time. The professional full time trainers and the larger owners are, in the first instance, the ones who may feel the greatest impact of the new regulations.
Metropolitan racing in Victoria is unquestionably being dominated by the larger trainers and owners, especially in recent times. The issue of reducing the amount of race dogs from these larger operations is central in allowing a more level playing field for the smaller or hobby participants.
Many believe this is essential to the long term sustainability of the industry, with flow on effects in breeding numbers and member retention. Although these new rules are not specifically designed to disrupt the Wheeler operation, there is no doubt the amount of Wheeler greyhounds racing in Victoria, as opposed to other States, has not gone un-noticed by participants, or the GRV.
The dominance in Victoria of Owner/Breeder Paul Wheeler may be reduced somewhat, and he may have to re-locate some of his greyhounds to other States in order to maximise their earning capacity.
While no one would deny that the huge amount of success enjoyed by the Wheeler dynasty has been hard earned, the overall integrity of the industry must be protected, and to that end, the change in this particular rule is long overdue.
Of the other rule amendments, the introduction of Grade 6 and Grade 7 events for less experienced greyhounds which is set to be introduced in 2015, is also a positive step.
It has been interesting to note the change of direction in GRV policy since the departure of former CEO John Stephens, and the new, dare we say, more balanced stance of current boss Adam Wallish. It would seem the current GRV Administration obviously recognises the need to protect the interests of the full time professional participants, along with those of the hobbyists, in equal measure.
GRV have stated that a continual monitoring of the rules will be undertaken and, if required, further modifications could be forthcoming in order to achieve the desired goals of transparency, fairness and accessibility to all members.