As we saw out December 2018, some highlights of that month included the first leg of the Gippsland Carnival, the Sale Cup, on Boxing Day which is covered in this issue along with Australia’s first ever National Greyhound Draft, held on Sunday 16 December. The Draft was a great success and I congratulate Greg Miller and his team at Sandown Park and Greyhound Clubs Australia on delivering an exciting new way to enter the sport and to promote its appeal for prospective owners.
GRV’s 2017-18 Annual Report was also tabled in Parliament in December and is now available online at www.grv.org.au/about-us/grv-annual-reports. Highlights in the Report include attendance at Victorian greyhound races up by 9.2 per cent to more than 211,900 and national wagering on Victorian greyhound racing up 11 per cent to a record $2.26 billion over 2016-17. This strong industry performance, combined with an increase in prizemoney to a record $45 million and a $7.8 million investment in infrastructure during 2017-18 points to a strong, sustainable future for Victorian greyhound racing.
An important part of securing this future will be the sport’s ability to re-home all retired greyhounds wherever possible. This has been given a significant boost by removing the requirement for retired greyhounds without a GAP Green Collar to wear muzzles in public from the first of this month. However, as I mentioned in the last issue of the Monthly, we all need to ensure that the growing popularity of greyhounds as pets is not affected by the behaviour of ones that have been re-homed without being sufficiently prepared for their new lives. So it’s still very important the 28-day wind-down period is observed and a retired greyhound’s temperement and behavour is properly assessed, whether through GAP’s PetCheck program or other channels. I note here that the new Code of Practice will require that from 1 December 2020 that all re-homed gryehounds are de-sexed and I strongly recommend that all owners planning to retire their greyhounds before December 2020 take this step anyway. The low-maintenace and relaxed character of greyhounds is central to their appeal as great companions and we all need to protect this. Speaking of which, GAP is holding a three-day Adoption Bonanza at its Seymour HQ on 18-20 January and I encourage you to spread the word for anyone thinking about getting a dog.
Turning now to the track, I’m pleased to announce that, as part of the Victorian Government funding package for the sport announced last October, minimum prizemoney at metro race meetings at Sandown Park and The Meadows is getting a $1 million funding boost over the next two years. Starting this month, the minimum prizemoney for these metro meetings is increasing by $400 per race. This is the first major prizemoney increase for Tier 1 metro racing since 2014 and complements increases in Tier 2 and 3 stakes announced in November 2017.
Other funds in the Victorian Government package will go towards major upgrades of the Traralgon and Cranbourne tracks. Traralgon has been closed because of drainage issues that raised major racing safety concerns. Traralgon race meetings will be rescheduled with the preference being to conduct the meetings in the Gippsland region. The Traralgon Cup, which was scheduled for Australia Day 2019, has been postponed until a date to be confirmed. I recognise this is a very significant disruption for participants in the Gippsland region, but we must continue to prioritise racing safety and animal welfare to help secure the sport’s long-term future.
The second leg of the Gippsland Carnival, the Warragul Cup, is still going ahead on 12 January along with plenty of other racing action including the Australian Sprint and the Maidment Memorial at Sandown Park on 24 January. It is shaping up to be very interesting year for greyhound racing in Victoria and GRV will be announcing some exciting new developments for both punters and participants in the next few months so stay tuned. Finally, I wish all participants a happy and safe festive season and thank you all for your wonderful contribution to greyhound racing, welfare and re-homing in 2018.