Firstly, it’s good news that Victoria is further relaxing its COVIDSafe Settings, giving us more opportunities to get to the track, enjoy the racing and catch up with each other. However, some density restrictions still apply in indoor areas, so I ask you to please keep following each club’s directions when you visit. The lifting of interstate travel restrictions is also great to see, and Victorian trainers are taking advantage of this to enter some of our best dogs in the heats for the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg at Wentworth Park in Sydney. Unfortunately, NSW’s severe weather conditions means some dates for this event have been affected so if you’re following the fortunes of Victorian racers in the Egg, check www.thedogs.com.au for the latest details. These weather conditions are also affecting parts of Victoria, especially around Gippsland and Otway Coast so please keep checking weather alerts, take all precautions and stay safe.
In other news, I’d like to thank all participants, clubs and Greyhound Clubs Victoria for their generous support of the Royal Children’s Hospital’s Good Friday Appeal by sponsoring GRV Chair Peita Duncan, Melbourne Storm superstar and greyhound racing enthusiast Ryan Papenhuyzen, and myself on Neil’s Wheel on 12 March. Thanks to all your pledges, GRV raised more than $17,000 for this very worthy cause, well above the $5,000 target, placing us 7th of 21 on the Neil’s Wheel’s Leaderboard and once again highlighting our sport’s commitment to our community.
Turning to our race program, our sport continues to perform well despite all the challenges of the past year. As at January 2021, total races were up 10% over the previous year while prizemoney paid out rose by 9.7%. The number of starters and unique dogs racing were up 10.4% and 4.6% respectively over the same period while the average field size reached 7.3, slightly up on the previous year.
And for the week ending 21 March, we hosted four additional meetings and 54 more races compared to the same week last year. Like many jurisdictions, including Queensland which has increased their race program from nine to 11.5 race meetings, and NSW which has increased from 16 to 21 race meetings per week, the Victorian race program continues to grow. Growing the race program is something Victoria has done consistently since 2007.
As the number of races increases, it’s more important than ever that we provide the safest possible working environment for our greyhounds. So, in addition to the $2 million Safe Racing Program water management package announced last month, which you can read more about in this issue of the Monthly, GRV’s Racing Safety and Infrastructure team are currently carrying out a quarterly review of track diagnostic and injury data at all Clubs. These discussions with each club also include topics such as water management, harrowing issues and the extent of GRV support required. As February was the 12-month anniversary of current reporting processes, these meetings have also included a full review of the previous 12 months diagnostic and injury data and overall track performance as well as the new reporting processes.
I am pleased to report that construction of the new Traralgon track remains on schedule to open around September 2021, with major earthworks now completed, the dam cleaned out and relined and the sub-base almost finished. The new battery powered, remote controlled lure that will be used at Traralgon is now also being trialed at Sandown.
We have an exciting program planned for the coming months with the Ballarat, Geelong, Warrnambool, Sandown and Bendigo Cups, the Speed Star series and the new Pink Diamond series in June. 2021 is shaping up to be a great year for Victorian greyhound racing – one that we can now enjoy again back at the track itself.