Firstly, I’d like to pay my respects to Paul Wheeler who sadly passed away on 13 October. I don’t think anyone anywhere has done more to position Australia as a world leader in greyhound racing. He was the man behind the famous ‘Bale’, ‘Dyna’ and ‘Allen’ bloodlines, a pioneer of breeding and rearing techniques, a passionate advocate for the sport he loved and always ready to offer advice and encouragement for all participants.
I met Paul a number of times and it was always a pleasure and an education. Paul was very generous with his time and contributed as a presenter to the GRV Workshop Program in 2016/17.
As a tribute, Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) and Victoria’s greyhound racing clubs named the first race across most of Victoria’s race meetings on 25-31 October as the ‘Vale Paul Wheeler’ race. Paul’s legacy will live on in generations of champions to come and in the hearts of Australia’s greyhound racing community.
How fitting that on Cup eve, the day Paul was farewelled, one of his breed scored an unexpected victory in the Group 1 Hume Cup at The Meadows. As was so perfectly articulated in an article compiled for grv.org.au by Gerard Guthrie, who attended Paul’s funeral earlier in the day, Knicks Bale ‘had an angel’s wing on every paw’ as she produced one of the most emotional wins the racing industry will ever see.
GRV’s 2020-21 Annual Report was tabled in Parliament last Thursday, 28 October. It provides a comprehensive overview of what has been an extraordinary year for the code in Victoria; one where new records were set in many key areas. You can find out more and link to the Report in in this edition of the Monthly.
The independently facilitated review into harrowing practices led by Des Gleeson is now complete. I thank all the clubs and participants who provided their input.
Making sure all Victorian tracks are prepared and maintained to clear and consistent standards is central to delivering a high-quality racing program and optimising safe racing. GRV has accepted the report recommendations in full and is developing an implementation plan.
The final report has been presented by Des Gleeson to the Industry Consulting Group (ICG) meeting and GRV is now developing an implementation plan. Some key recommendations however have already been effective as from 18 October. These include a requirement for participants to be notified about a planned or completed track harrow when nominating or booking trials. Also now in place are formal definitions and responsibilities for the level of harrowing to be undertaken and an improved process for reporting planned harrows to GRV.
In other track news, the sand has now been laid at the new Traralgon track, Excitement is building, and it remains on schedule to officially open in early December following track trials. The Club hosted a Participants Day on Monday 18 October so that they could properly inspect the new track in person. Both day’s sessions were fully booked and responses to the new track were very positive. My thanks to Steve Clarke and his team for hosting the Day.
Finally, I’d like remind participants about the Victorian Government requirement that all Authorised Workers will need to be fully vaccinated by 26 November. Achieving this will play a big part in further opening up our tracks over the coming months. It has been a challenging time, but we have made it through in great shape thanks to the commitment, patience and co-operation of everyone in the sport. Now, restrictions are lifting and this spring and summer promise great racing with more meetings, more major events and more prizemoney than ever. Keep staying safe and see you at the races.