WA authorities have recognised a longstanding trend in Australian greyhound racing and have now implemented a plan for “INDUSTRY REVITALISATION” because they are running out of dogs.
We have been banging on about this for some years now, only to see other state authorities go in the opposite direction or, as we suggested in a recent article, “whistling on the way through the cemetery”.
A GWA statement says that “Some of the amendments to Grading Policy have been implemented as part of a revitalization concept for the WA Greyhound Racing Industry; the major issues being the current difficulties being experienced in sourcing quality interstate racing stock and the ever-increasing reliance on short-course chasing in WA”.
Let’s re-state the position; the nation has run out of dogs, or at least competitive ones. Breeding has been on the decline, more races have been added, city races now include Novice or Maiden greyhounds, provincial meetings embrace more short course events, and around a quarter of all races start with empty boxes.
One outcome has been that outgraded dogs in the east are no longer flowing over to WA and those that are on offer are just not worth paying good money for. A longstanding pattern is coming to a halt. The cause and effect is obvious.
This is a natural issue for Greyhounds Australasia to look into, providing it fits into its self-imposed narrow charter. The shortage of starters is of national importance. The basic structure of racing and the strategies the code adopts are now critical to its future, especially if it wants to achieve a degree of excellence.
The WA solution, if it can be called that, is to reduce the entry barriers for imported dogs. Relatively, a higher graded dog from the east will be able to run in a lesser event in WA. That is not excellence but amounts to a reduction in the quality of the average race. But it is no less than has already occurred in the east.
Already Queensland has possibly a bigger problem than WA but the new management seems to think that throwing more cash at the issue will solve all the ills. It won’t. Paying higher prize money will simply put it on a par with NSW, for example, meaning no fresh blood is likely to move north. In any event, as WA is finding out, the other states are short themselves. And in both cases, if we are not breeding more dogs, where can the growth originate?
On a brighter note, the WA government has now approved the allocation of $13 million to finalise the funding for the new Cannington track complex. A sigh of relief for all!
Dogs were not the only competitors in Perth at the Nationals. With impeccable timing, it is possible there was also a meeting of Greyhounds Australasia Ltd at the same time. We can’t be absolutely sure of that as our national body operates very much in the background, keeping itself to itself.
The GAL team comprises 11 members plus 6 alternates from various states, and possibly the odd helper or spouse. Doing some quick sums to work out what they paid to get there we consulted our favourite travel agent and learnt that four-day trips to Perth from Sydney, including accommodation, go for between $900 and $1,400 depending on the quality of your pub. Economy class air travel and twin share, of course. Those figures would go up or down a bit for trippers from other places, and with or without spouses or offsiders.
Adding in the cost of meals and “ahem”, incidentals, would bump up the average considerably and so would using business class instead of economy.
Even allowing for some locals taking part, it seems probable that upwards of $25,000 of punters’ money was invested in the talkfest. So was it worth it?
Well, we would expect to hear about three things, at a minimum:
(a) The agenda,
(b) A brief summary of discussions on each subject, and
(c) A list of decisions taken.
All that would help us understand how the industry is going and what great plans are in mind for the future. We might even hear about why the 2011 industry statistics have not been updated. It would be a bit like the quarterly statements we get from Tabcorp, Tatts, Qantas, Virgin, BHP, the Federal Treasurer or any company you might like to name.
So, what did we get? Nothing, actually. Zero. Zilch. Not a very good return on our investment, is it? We are not even sure they met, but they do it four times a year.
Sandown stewards are still besotted with the “crossing to the rail” syndrome but continue to get it wrong. See their comments on the meeting on 4 September. (Box numbers added here).
“Dyna Beth (4) crossed to the rail soon after the start, checking Jewel Bale (3) and Ozzie Bullet (2)”.
No. If Dyna Beth brushed the slow-beginning Jewel Bale, and I don’t think it did, it was very minor and of no importance. It had no effect whatsoever on Ozzie Bullet.
“Praise Chorus (5) crossed to the rail soon after the start, checking Young Hawek (sic) (3) and Big Bad Tom (4)”.
No again. Never touched them. By the time they got to the judge Praise Chorus was still outside another runner. It did not get to the rail until well around the corner.
THE BIG QUESTIONS
How will Xylia Allen’s and Sweet It Is’ relative times compare in the heats of the Chairman’s Cup at Wentworth Park tomorrow? How well has Xylia Allen recovered from the gutbuster at Cannington two weeks ago? If they both get through to the final, how will they take the shortish seven-day break? And will a refreshed Dusty Moonshine scupper them both – it’s in Xylia Allen’s heat and will also have to endure the short break which worried it last time.
And I am still waiting for someone to explain why Sweet It Is started at odds-on against the better performed Xylia Allen in Perth – after opening very short two days prior on Fixed Odds books. And how did Sweet It Is exceeded all its previous form in that near record run?
Let’s also remember that in their previous battle in the Victorian run-off on August 17 Xylia Allen beat Sweet It Is by 3.5 lengths.