Welcome to the March edition of the Monthly. We’ve had some great racing over February as the Australian Cup Carnival got underway, including the Temlee, Rookie Rebel and Zoom Top where Fanta Bale equalled Fernando Bale’s record eight Group 1 victories. And Up Hill Jill and Striker Light became the first female greyhound sprinters to win over half a million dollars in prize money. We also saw the Cranbourne Cup as a superb finale for the second annual Gippsland Carnival.
The success of the Gippsland Carnival, I think points the way forward for GRV and the sport in the future given that much of GRV’s reform agenda is complete and generating some very good outcomes.
For example, even though swabbing has been tripled since 2016, there has been a very significant drop in recent times in the number of samples returned positive, which we believe is partly driven by improved awareness about issues like feeding guidelines. There is still some work to do but GRV is now a properly working regulator and we are refreshing our Strategic Priorities to reflect this with a focus on returning to business as usual.
I believe we should now start thinking hard about where we want the sport to be in the next seven to ten years. All sporting codes keep evolving and greyhound racing is no exception, so we need to keep exploring new ways of improving the racing experience for current punters and participants and to attract new ones. The Gippsland Carnival is one example of trying new approaches and I am keen to hear your ideas about how we can further develop and promote greyhound racing over the next decade.
Turning now to issues off the track, I note that the Greyhound Clubs Victoria Executive and GOTBA have been working with the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources on the draft Code Practice to ensure that it delivers strong animal welfare outcomes while also being workable for participants on the ground. Speaking of animal welfare, GRV piloted the Greyhound Recovery Initiative (GRI) from December 2016 to March 2017 and have now made it an ongoing program to support participants if their greyhound suffers a major injury at the track. You can find out more about the GRI in this edition of the Monthly. And following the success of GAP’s Baxter facility in adopting out around 500 greyhounds in recent years, many in the Mornington region and outer Melbourne, GAP is now opening a café on the fringe of the Melbourne CBD to promote greyhounds as great pets for urban living to metropolitan Melbourne and there’s a story on it in this issue.
Finally, this month marks the final episodes of the popular Greyhounds are My Life video series which has been profiling the people of Victoria’s greyhound racing community and which you can view at grv.org.au/gaml. Two stories were filmed for each of Victoria’s 13 greyhound clubs and released in the run-up to each club’s annual Cup or biggest race meeting and, in March, the final four stories focus on the Meadows for the Australian Cup and Horsham for its Cup. On behalf of GRV, I thank everyone who took part and we are now developing other projects to help tell more stories of this great sport in Victoria, past and present.