Firstly, I would like to thank everyone involved in Victorian greyhound racing for how you all came together to work in a very collegiate way through what has been the most challenging year in our sport’s history. All this effort is now paying off as COVID restrictions lift and Victoria’s greyhound racing clubs open up again for all participants and spectators. However, I do ask you to keep following club directions about attendee limits and density requirements for indoor and closed spaces and to keep wearing masks indoors and make regular use of hand sanitisers. And as part of this easing of restrictions, I am pleased to announce that TAB outlets and bookmakers are now returning to clubs as well.
If you can’t make it to the track but want to keep on top of all the action, GRV’s Watchdog app is being continually upgraded with new features like race card refresh, compatibility for 13+ races and more Surepick data rolled out last month and there will be more upgrades by the end of the year. And there is now also more coverage and more races. Sky Racing’s broadcasts of our Saturday morning meetings is now joined by coverage of three additional Victorian meetings a week on Sky Racing 1. In addition, a trial of 13 races will soon begin at some clubs with these meetings tailored to give greyhounds more opportunities to gain a start while boosting revenue and returns to participants. One major racing highlight we can look forward to in the coming year is the new Traralgon track, which is on schedule to be completed by mid-2021. It will follow Horsham as one of the most advanced greyhound tracks in the world, setting new standards as a safe workplace for racing dogs and with a design that adds an exciting new option to Victoria’s racetrack collection.
While it is great to be out in the sun again, it is also a reminder that the hottest time of the year is nearly on us. So, it is very important that all kennels and other greyhound facilities have fire management plans in place and have the location of their nearest registered Local Evacuation centre included in their EHMP. You can find out more at: greyhoundcare.grv.org.au/hot-weather/#FireSeasonIsComing. The Department of Agriculture also has some excellent resources and advice on preparing your property and how to manage pets, horses and livestock during fires at: agriculture.vic.gov.au/livestock-and-animals/animal-welfare-victoria/pets-and-emergencies/planning-for-pets-in-emergencies#h2-2. And I also remind you that GRV’s recently updated Hot Weather and Transport Policies are now in force and you can and should find out more at: greyhoundcare.grv.org.au/policies-and-guidance. Another issue that participants should be aware of is that New Zealand is currently in the middle of a widespread and severe Kennel Cough outbreak. While there do not appear to be any Kennel Cough cases in Victoria at the moment, I ask you all to remain vigilant for any signs of Kennel Cough and report any cases to GRV. Any greyhounds that have not been vaccinated for Kennel Cough in the last 6-12 months should be re-vaccinated now.
On the subject of welfare, I am pleased to announce increased funding for the Greyhound Recovery Initiative (GRI). All greyhounds with a GRI-eligible injury can now receive up to $2,000 towards off-track veterinary costs, up from $1,500. GRV has also introduced a new rehabilitation grant of up to $500 paid directly to the owner to support recovery and additional veterinary costs. Eligibility requirements for the GRI remain the same and the initial off-track GRI consultation is fully funded regardless of diagnosis and treatment options. And if you have greyhounds that you are planning to re-home soon, GAP has places still available in January and demand for these wonderful dogs remains strong.
Finally, I would like to restate how profoundly grateful I am for how Victorian greyhound racing rose to the occasion this year. To keep racing under the circumstances of 2020 was a real privilege for the code and one that was earned by how everyone worked together. I thank you all: participants and your families, clubs, Greyhound Clubs Victoria, all race day staff, from stewards and vets to kennel attendants and catchers. I also thank the thousands of volunteers at the clubs, the race meetings and at GAP. I wish you a safe, prosperous and happy holiday season and I’ll see you at the track next year.