I write this shortly after the release of a report from NSW’s Greyhound Industry Reform Panel that outlines the initiatives necessary to ensure the long-term position of greyhound racing in NSW.
The strong theme through the report is to put the promotion and protection of animal welfare at the centre of the new industry.
The NSW panel believes that achieving major reforms in animal welfare is crucial to the future of greyhound racing in NSW and it is necessary to build the community’s confidence in integrity.
Victoria has already been on this journey for 18 months as we near the completion of the implementation of the recommendations made by the Racing Integrity Commissioner and Chief Veterinarian Officer.
GRV has laid a solid foundation for regulatory reform and its animal welfare and integrity capabilities have been significantly upgraded. The Welfare Inspectorate is now visiting around 80 premises a week and are finding that the majority of training facilities have greatly improved.
Adoptions through GAP are on track to substantially exceed last year’s record figure and an innovative new GAP project to promote greyhounds as pets is being developed which you will hear more about in the near future.
In short, there is plenty happening that should give greyhound racing people and the community a lot of confidence in the direction of our sport.
Importantly we can be seen to be seriously responding to the concerns expressed by the community about greyhound racing.
GRV’s Investigations Unit is now working well in an independent and accountable way with other compliance and animal welfare organisations in gathering and acting on information, and I encourage anyone with concerns about the sport’s integrity to contact them as participant input is central to building strong cases for action.
Speaking of participant input, our valuable stakeholder engagement workshops are returning in 2017, while GRV’s Industry Consultative Group is now seeking new members, which you can read about on page nine of this month’s Greyhound Monthly.
There are still many issues where more concerted work is needed by GRV, the clubs and participants. Track safety continues to be a concern and whilst much has been done it is clear that further work is required.
Importantly, to reduce race interference, the introduction of hoop arm lures, along with new catching pens and braking motors, is where we expect to make significant gains. These initiatives should be operational in most clubs by the end of April along with the completion of rectification works at the existing Horsham track.
An ongoing project is to establish a baseline for measuring data about optimum track hardness and moisture and this will be developed for use at all tracks around Victoria.
We also need to increase quality breeding to meet the demands of the racing calendar while also ensuring all Victorian greyhounds enjoy a full and natural life cycle.
I strongly urge you to read the articles on Norm Rinaldi and George Farrugia in this month’s edition. Norm and George are passionate breeders, who speak well on why now is a great time to be involved in the breeding game.
Breeding will be a key topic for industry engagement workshops that we are planning to host in the next few months, along with other issues like building industry confidence and new codes of practice and rule frameworks. This new series will be held predominately at regional clubs with participants taking the lead in designing how they will work and I will be announcing more details about this shortly.
Turning to the action on the track, this month will see one of the world’s premier greyhound racing events, the Australian Cup, return to The Meadows on 4 March, followed by the last leg of the Gippsland Carnival, the Traralgon Cup on 25 March. The carnival marks a new approach to marketing regional racing and it has been generating some great results in terms of attendance and generally promoting the sport which GRV will build on for future events.
This issue also includes the 2017 Victorian coursing calendar which culminates in the Waterloo Cup at Longwood in the last weekend of August. I think of coursing as almost like Victoria’s 14th racing club and if you haven’t attended a coursing meet yet, I encourage you to do so, as it is another great way to enjoy these wonderful dogs in action.