While we are all pleased with the easing of restrictions across Victoria, a reminder that health and safety protocols including masks, social distancing and health checks on entry are still in place for all Victorian race meetings and trials and that metro participants still need their work permits when travelling to regional meetings.
Looking ahead to opening up race meetings for non-essential personnel and clubs for non-racing related activities, GRV will continue to follow the advice of Victoria’s Chief Health Officer and work with Greyhound Clubs Victoria (GCV) and the individual clubs on how best and when to open up while also maintaining a safe working environment. In the meantime, the contract with Event Aid to provide entry health checks at clubs has been extended into 2021.
Speaking of opening up clubs, I’m pleased to announce that funding and vendors for the new Traralgon track project have been fully signed off and construction will begin in the next month. Around $5 million will be invested in the project with local businesses supplying most of the needed goods and services. At this stage, the goal is to have the new track finished and fully tested by mid-2021 and then open for racing soon after as a state-of-the-art venue for safe and exciting racing. And GRV is now in discussions with clubs about safer racing, and initiatives to support enabling the racetrack to be a safe work environment for the dog. Under consideration is new capital works for next year, including more straight tracks. On this note I would also like to mention the great work by Sandown in the remediation of its track which has now resolved some ma-jor drainage issues raised as safety concerns by trainers.
We have reflected on the effectiveness of the Greyhound Recovery Initiative and are making a number of changes to improve the level of support to injured dogs at the track. More details will follow in next month’s edition.
It is envisaged that as we move forward the combination of new tracks and the introduction of a 13th race at some Victorian race meetings will provide more opportunities for Victorian greyhounds at all levels. Our goal is to increase revenue for prizemoney and other returns and for further investment in initiatives that lead to safer racing.
GRV’s racing team will keep you updated on these and other issues through a new email bulletin every second Friday for participants on matters relating to meetings, features and grading. The bulletin will also highlight any distance races that are in the program, and any matters of interest such as the expressions of interest for the Racing Reference Group positions.
At the moment, the racing team is working through a summer program which will be specifically focused around meetings traditionally affected by hot weather. On this subject, while there have been no substantive changes, can I ask you to make sure you are up to date on GRV’s Hot Weather and Transport Policies and that you start preparing your fire plans if you haven’t done so already.
Looking ahead for the rest of spring and summer, GRV is also putting new promotion and marketing initiatives in place to help retain people who discovered the sport during lockdown and to bring in new customers. This includes a program of Festivals of Racing focused on different regions across the State and expanded media coverage, both on and off the track, such as more live Saturday morning racing and the return of The Thrill of The Chase TV program on the Seven network.
It has been a very testing last few months and again I thank participants for your patience and cooperation and club and race day staff for their great work under unprecedented circumstances. Now, as restrictions are lifting and the days are getting longer and warmer, we can all enjoy what promises to be a great summer of racing for our sport.