It was another busy month in the sport around Victoria. On 12 September, Horsham Greyhound Racing Club’s new track was officially opened by the Mayor of Horsham Rural City Council after a redevelopment that used mainly local contractors and suppliers. The new wider track was designed using data modelling from the University of Technology Sydney to reduce incidents and interference and includes new sand, fencing and safety rails, braking lure motors, head-on cameras, drop-on boxes for 410m races and starting boxes for trialling puppies, along with upgraded irrigation and electrical systems.
It now provides a whole new level of greyhound safety and welfare that has already attracted national interest and a better viewing experience for spectators.
GRV will formally monitor the outcomes derived from the track design modifications with a view to determine whether these changes may be applicable to other Victorian tracks. Also, there is wide-spread interest in monitoring the outcomes achieved.
The opening was celebrated with the Horsham Club’s annual TAB Great Chase Community Day for local disability organisations, which will be followed by other Community Days at tracks around Victoria during October, leading up to the TAB Great Chase Final at The Meadows on 25 October.
In other racing news, the Healesville Cup on 10 September was hotly contested by one of the strongest fields in its history which included many Group 1 racers. I congratulate Zinzan Brooke’s trainers and owner on another great win, following his triumph at the Shepparton Cup in July. On the same night at Sandown Park, Bewildering was crowned Australia’s fastest dog at the Speed Star match race series, following his victory in the Bill Collins Speed Star in May this year.
Off the track, the Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) once again had a stand at the Royal Melbourne Show from September 23 to October 3, this year in the Channel 7 Family Fun Pavilion. GAP volunteers and greyhounds showed visitors why greyhounds make such great pets and they were joined by GAP Ambassador, Bernie Vince on Wednesday 27 September.
Speaking of ambassadors, I am pleased to announce that AFL legend Brent Harvey is now GRV’s new ambassador who will be promoting various racing events and the joys of owning a racing dog, and you can read more about Brent and his work in this issue. I am also pleased to note that greyhound racing continues to enjoy a great wagering performance. 2016-17 was another record year and we will be releasing detailed figures about this performance later in October.
Despite the very strong outcomes for the sport in recent months, we still need to ensure that the welfare of the dogs and the integrity of the sport remain our key priorities. So, from October, GRV is rolling out new Local Rules covering re-homing, health injury reporting, export requirements and registration processes that will align Victoria with other states and racing codes. GRV is also developing a comprehensive new plan to endeavour to reduce track injuries and both this plan and the new rules are discussed in more detail in this issue.
It has been an intense two years of reform for greyhound racing and we feel we have established ourselves as a strong, proactive regulator as we work with our participants to embark on genuine cultural change in Victorian greyhound racing. This is vital as we ensure a strong, sustainable industry for years to come.
One of the key events this month is the Geelong Cup on 27 October, one of Australia’s leading regional greyhound race meets, while the following night The Meadows will host its Group 1 Topgun night. Both events provide an opportunity to see which dogs are looking competitive for the Melbourne Cup in November, and another spring and summer of great racing.
2017-18 will be a busy year as GRV transitions from an industry and GRV transformation to a more business as usual environment.