Over the last month or so, a disturbing trend is beginning to become evident in Victorian Greyhound Racing.
With the changes to the calendar, to accommodate Sky 2 and the Tab's desire to offer ‘more content', fewer races have full fields drawn and many more have no reserves.
One wonders if this merely coincidental, over the past month, or as this observer fears, a trend that will continue.
It is abundantly clear that the available pool of greyhounds is becoming depleted and a higher than usual number of dogs are sidelined due to the heavier workload greedy owners foist upon them. Many are now racing six or seven times a month which quite clearly is rarely, if ever, in the dogs' best interests.
Gambling turnover is the lifeblood of the industry and will be impacted negatively should the trend continue long term. The only races that seem to be ‘holding up' are the Tier3 short course races, which for many reasons may not inspire punter confidence.
Most punters I have spoken to, prefer to bet on full fields. Perhaps they will get used to vacant boxes as the norm; perhaps they will have no choice.
The latter meeting comprised 12 races, 9 of which saw reduced fields face the starter. There was not a reserve drawn for the 11 graded races at that meeting. The former had the same single dog listed as a reserve for six races. Hardly impressive for a Saturday night, where top notch prize money, is a decent incentive to nominate.
Hopefully breeders will be the big winners in this new environment. With so many dogs required to service the industry's meetings, they will have to bred and purchased in record numbers in the next 24 months if we are not to end up racing ‘English style' with six dog fields the normal practice.
One wonders if GRV are concerned, have they even noticed, and if so, do they have a plan?
I for one hope so!