Welcome to the August issue of Greyhound Monthly Victoria. This time of the year is usually one of the quieter periods for our sport but much has been happening lately. Firstly, following confirmation that Saturday morning racing will continue, Victoria’s racing program will be boosted from 23 to 26 meetings a week from now until July 2021. An additional $1.5 million will be added to the existing prizemoney pool to cover the three new weekly meetings which means that there will be no reduction in any prizemoney across all of the current racing program.
This expanded program will accommodate the increase in Victoria’s available population of racing dogs, which includes those which would normally have raced interstate but have been unable to do so because of the border closures. And the extra meetings will help us offset some of the impact of the closure of TAB retail outlets because of COVID-19 which has reduced our overall revenues.
Growing our racing calendar at the moment is particularly important given that we have many new customers to greyhound racing, This will continue as one of GRV’s key priorities for the coming years. By spreading our fixed costs across more events, we will generate more wagering revenue to reinvest in more prizemoney, more jobs, improved club facilities and increased marketing to attract new customers.
Secondly, and very importantly, the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Victoria means we must keep strictly following biosecurity protocols and keep working together
to keep racing going. In line with the Victorian Government’s directive, all participants, regardless of where they are based, must wear masks or other face coverings when in public anywhere in Victoria.
Masks are now also mandatory at all race meetings, trial sessions and coursing activities statewide. Although masks are provided by GRV at the clubs, it would be helpful if participants bring their own. I also ask that everyone travel directly to and from tracks and use club food and beverage options onsite or take their own rather than visiting local towns or suburbs. So please stay safe and stay aware so we can stay racing.
Speaking of racing, I am very pleased to announce $1 million to fund free pen trials, arm trials and post-race trials at all 13 Victorian clubs from the start of this month. This will help ease financial pressures faced by participants and improve welfare outcomes. The free trials program has been developed in collaboration with Greyhound Clubs Victoria (GCV) and will be administered and managed by GCV and club managers. We anticipate that free trials will provide more opportunities for dogs to experience racing conditions and so lead to a reduction in injuries. GRV will be continually researching this issue throughout the free trials program. GRV and GCV will also review on a monthly basis how the program is working to make sure all participants are able to access free trials. Additionally, the program will give clubs the opportunity to employ more local people in helping manage the trials and carrying out associated track maintenance.
In other exciting news the Melbourne Greyhound Racing Association (MGRA) will soon announce a proposal for a new straight track at The Meadows following a detailed feasibility study of the proposed site, The proposed straight track will be a further boost for safe racing in Victoria and allow Victoria to present an expanded racing program across 14 tracks instead of the current 13. Over the coming months, MGRA will provide detailed information on the new track and when it is expected to be operational.
I am also pleased to announce that, following a call for expressions of interest, the GRV Board has approved MGRA as the new administrator for the Healesville Greyhound Racing Association from 1 August this year. Sandown Greyhound Racing Club has done a great job of administrating Healesville over the past few years but it now feels it has to focus on other priorities like its new rearing property. MGRA will bring its own very strong capabilities in areas like general administration and track maintenance to support Cynthia O’Brien and her team at Healesville and I look forward to a very productive partnership between the two clubs.
Finally, I’d like to note that despite the challenges we have been facing, the sport has enjoyed an exceptionally high standard of racing in recent months with some great runs by Victorian dogs both here and interstate. Once again, I thank all participants and club and race day staff for working together under trying conditions to deliver some of the best greyhound racing action in Australia, if not the world.