To date, animal welfare and integrity have been GRV’s overarching priorities as GRV responds to the Milne and Perna Report recommendations to help secure the sport’s immediate future. Although GRV has established its internal capabilities in these areas, our focus on animal welfare and integrity will continue, and we are also increasingly focused on the medium to long term, working to build a sustainable and vibrant future for greyhound racing in Victoria over the coming decade and beyond. One of the key issues here is to encourage quality breeding so that there will be a sufficient number of greyhounds available and ready to race to ensure a full and competitive racing calendar.
GRV is tackling this issue on several fronts. Firstly, there is the need to stabilise and increase quality breeding which has been slowing due to a range of concerns about the industry’s long term future.
The stakeholder engagement workshops held last year generated several suggestions for improving breeding outcomes. GRV is now working with the Industry Consultative Group and other stakeholders to further develop these proposals for consideration by participants at a new series of workshops in the next few months.
We are also developing information and education campaigns and toolkits to help participants work with the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) draft of the new Code of Practice when it is released for consultation later this year.
GRV is working on initiatives to keep greyhounds in the racing system to extend their racing life and to ensure that a high percentage of pups whelped go on to have a viable racing career. The aim is to program and run races for greyhounds of all abilities by improving methods for the grading and selection of races. This includes considering the use of the Aged Prize Money calculation as a method for grouping greyhounds of similar current ability and form to race against each other.
It is also worth remembering that with breeding numbers slower than they have been in previous years, participants will have more opportunities and less competition for prize money in the near future, as well as being able to lower the standards they may consider necessary for a dog to be capable of being a successful racer.
As participants have made clear, there is also a shortage of breaking and training facilities available for trainers and educators. So, improving existing training facilities at clubs and building new ones is a key focus of GRV’s five-year infrastructure plan which is investing around $35 million in new capital works.
GRV is now working with Ballarat, Bendigo, Sale, Geelong, Traralgon, Sandown and The Meadows to develop their facilities as high-quality training centres for participants with investment in bullrings, slipping tracks, walking machines and other facilities.
A new bullring has been completed and is being tested at Sale with lessons learnt from its development guiding work at other clubs. Plans are also underway for upgrades to coursing tracks at Melton and Lang Lang and the slipping track at Wangaratta so that these venues will also host new and improved training facilities for greyhound racing.
Other infrastructure projects underway include the rebuild of the Horsham track, with electrical and irrigation works nearing completion along with a refurbished sub-base while new fencing and lure rail are about to be installed. The track is on schedule to be operational again in early May. Design and project management work for new judging towers at Warragul and Warrnambool is also in progress.
Turning to the action on the track, this month’s edition of Greyhound Monthly Victoria includes a roundup of all the Australian Cup action from The Meadows including a great win by Fanta Bale who is now emerging as another champion to carry the Bale name and the story of Skyes Apprentice and his owner and first-time greyhound trainer, Murray Warren, who together have overcome their injuries to become a formidable duo on the track. It’s a great example of what the sport is all about and GRV will be looking to tell more of these stories over the year, in both the Monthly and through the popular Greyhounds are My Life videos, so stay tuned.