The fourth Annual VGAs, hosted by GRV at Crown Palladium on Friday 16 August, was a great celebration of the sport’s achievements over the past 12 months and I congratulate all the winners and nominees for their contribution to greyhound racing in Victoria. Presenters included the Minister for Racing, Martin Pakula, and GRV Racing Ambassador Brent Harvey and a new GRV Board Leadership Award was introduced this year.
Another highlight of last month was the inaugural SEN National Straight Track Championship at Healesville on Sunday 18 August. I congratulate everyone involved, especially Healesville’s Manager, Cynthia O’Brien, in staging this great new addition to the national racing calendar that also showcases the safe racing benefits of straight tracks. Next year, the Championship Final will be held at Capalaba Greyhound Racing Club in Queensland following State heats and finals in Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.
I’d like also to acknowledge Greyhounds WA and Cannington for hosting a great 2019 National Sprint and Distance Championships. Both Reidy’s Runner and Premium Share were worthy winners of the Distance and Sprint Championships respectively and Victoria’s own Tornado Tears had a great run to place second in the Distance Final. It was also a great opportunity to meet with key stakeholders from other Australian racing jurisdictions to help build stronger national approaches to key issues for the sport.
Turning to news off the track, the GRV Board has signed off on the U-shaped track option for Traralgon following a consultation process that was managed by the Traralgon GRC Committee with support from GRV. I thank the Committee, club management and members for their work and input in finding a solution that will deliver one of the world’s leading edge greyhound tracks. The tender process for demolition of the current track is now underway and it’s expected that the new track should be operational by mid-2020.
While final figures are still being crosschecked and confirmed, greyhound re-homing numbers were up around 4% on the previous year and up nearly 100% since 2014-15. Euthanasia numbers continued to fall and are now down more than 80% over the past four years. Significant advancement has also been made during 2018-19 in improving racing safety.
GRV’s financial result also improved in 2018-19, despite a drop in the racing population in early 2019, with a 4.9% increase in total income, a substantial deficit reduction was achieved which was also assisted by expenses being well under budget.
In other GRV news, I am pleased to announce that Greg Kerr has been appointed as GRV’s General Manager, Racing and he is expected to take up the position on 1 October 2019. Greg joins GRV from Greyhound Racing New Zealand (GRNZ) where he was Chief Operations Officer and Animal Welfare Manager for nearly six years. During that time, he helped drive a major reform of the code in New Zealand and positioned GRNZ as an industry leader in Australasia. Before working at GRNZ, Greg held senior executive and management positions in New Zealand’s manufacturing and hospitality sectors and was CEO of the New Zealand Kennel Club. I am confident that Greg’s long and strong involvement in greyhound racing combined with a proven track record in managing complex enterprises will make him a valuable addition to GRV and to the sport in Victoria.
Also coming on board is media personality Kate Stevenson, who has signed on as the new GAP Ambassador. Kate has long been a supporter of GAP’s work as a genuine lover of greyhounds and will bring both passion and great knowledge of the breed to the role, spreading the word about what wonderful pets they make.
And a reminder that the new Victorian Racing Integrity Board and Victorian Racing Tribunal are now both operational. The Board is responsible for endorsing annual integrity plans, providing recommendations on integrity budgets, policies and licensing, and considering proposed amendments to the rules of racing. The Tribunal, which replaces the RADB, will hear and determine serious charges made against licensed persons by controlling bodies and stewards and consider a broad range of appeals, including those relating to penalties imposed by controlling bodies. Some small matters still outstanding with the former RADB will be settled by the Tribunal as one of its first duties.
Finally, as it’s only three months now before the new Code of Practice becomes operational on 1 January 2020, I’d like to remind you about the support and resources available for participants to help ensure they are code ready. This includes a series of Code Information Sessions/Complete your EHMP Workshops now underway around Victoria. Sessions to date have been very well attended with participants reporting that they have found them very constructive. More sessions will be held over this and next month at Traralgon, Warragul, Sale and The Meadows. You can contact those clubs directly or visit greyhoundcare.grv.org.au/code-of-practice for dates and times.