We’ve been treated to some great racing over the past month, especially at the Australia Cup Carnival where Hecton Bale won the Cup in great style and signalled that he could be the sport’s next big star. Another Carnival highlight was Fanta Bale taking out the Australian Super Stayers in a champion run by a great champion, making her the winner of the most prize money in the sport’s history. And Jimmy Newob pulled off a great win over regular rival Aston Dee Bee at the Horsham Cup on 10 March, in front of one of the largest crowds ever for the event.
The Horsham Cup was also marked by the release of the last two episodes of Greyhounds Are My Life, a 25-part video series that profiled some of the people of Victoria’s greyhound racing community and you can read more about it in this issue. Also covered this month is the opening of the GAP Café in West Melbourne and GAP’s fourth Greyhound Community Day, the biggest one yet and which found new homes for 22 greyhounds. The Greyhound Family Fun Days program is now underway again with Victoria’s greyhound racing clubs hosting a range of kid-friendly activities across the state over the Easter school break including the ‘Greyhound Games’ featuring soccer, hopscotch and tug of war competitions and more. The Family Fun Days are free, and your local club can tell you when they will be hosting one for your community.
Turning now to industry development, I am pleased to announce that as part of our approach to contained breeding, litter numbers are now on the rise again with 542 litters whelped over the past 12 months. Also, very encouraging is that over the last three months we continue to see a reduction in the percentage of swabs taken return positive results.
While these are great outcomes, we cannot afford to take them for granted as we plan the long-term growth of the sport.
To help do so, GRV has convened Breeding and Racing Reference Groups which held their inaugural meetings last month. These participant-driven forums are operational in their focus and will help build consensus on proposals to improve breeding and racing outcomes, provide feedback about our procedures, processes and practices and raise and discuss topical issues or concerns. Some of the issues they are expected to discuss include new contained breeding strategies and new approaches to motivating and training dogs to chase including a review of the current hoop arm and lure.
Another new initiative introduced last month is a series of training tips videos, hosted by one of the country’s leading trainers, Robert Britton. The first episodes cover detecting injuries to greyhounds and you can watch them at greyhoundcare.grv.org.au.
I would like to pass on my thanks to Robert Britton’s amazing greyhound Fanta Bale for all the great racing and enjoyment she has brought us all, and I wish her a happy retirement. She is a once-in-a-generation champion with a big heart, and you can read our tribute to her on page nine of this publication.
Looking ahead, the first National Greyhound Adoption Day will be held on Sunday April 29 where all the GAPs throughout Australia will come together to celebrate everything greyhound and promote adoption opportunities. You can find out more at nationalgreyhoundadoptionday.com.au. And on the track, the Warrnambool Cup heats kick off in late April, leading up to the Cup itself on 2 May. And finally, a reminder the that the 2018 coursing season gets underway on 15 April at Longwood, just outside Euroa. I often think of coursing as Victoria’s 14th greyhound racing club and I encourage anyone who hasn’t seen true grassroots racing to catch on to coursing.