Firstly, I’d like to congratulate all the winners at the 2021 Victorian Greyhound Awards and thank the thousands of people who watched it live on 19 September and over following days. I also thank the members of the award committees, made up of members including GCV, Clubs, GOTBA, as well as media partners, who had the difficult task of selecting the awardees which then went to the GRV Board for finalising. The winners were all very popular choices, not least Cynthia O’Brien for her very well deserved GRV Board Leadership Award. Cynthia is Victoria’s ambassador for Straight Track Racing and a great advocate for our sport.
Looking ahead, the new prize money package is now in effect as of October 1. Close to 2000 participants told GRV their preferred options and I thank you all for your input. Prize money allocation now includes a 12 percent increase to Metro and Provincial base prize money, fourth place payments and upgrades some meetings from level 3 to Level 2 status. This takes the total 2021-22 prize money committed to date to a record $63.3 million, the world’s largest greyhound racing prize money pool. And the GRV Board will continue to review prize money every quarter to best match revenue and distribution outcomes.
Turning now to the tracks themselves, work on the new Traralgon track has been delayed due to COVID-19 construction and regional restrictions. It is now anticipated the track will be ready for trialling and then racing from late November. All the science and technology research and learnings from the Traralgon and Horsham track developments will continue to be applied across all Victorian tracks as we work to optimise safe racing across the State. As part of this safe racing focus, the annual review of club safety issues has now been completed and reports provided to each club. GRV’s safe racing team will be meeting with club and track managers and their teams over October to hear each club’s perspective on these safety issues and to discuss the next steps in resolving them.
An example of how this safe racing approach is delivering better outcomes is at Shepparton Greyhound Racing Club where track improvements over the last few years have now reduced racing injuries by nearly a quarter. And, as part of GRV’s Safe Racing Program, a new Certificate III in Racing Services (Track Maintenance), is being developed in partnership with the Bendigo Harness Racing Industry Training Centre for launch in early 2023. The program will provide both trainees and current club track curation team members with formal accreditation and a career pathway.
Another GRV initiative I’d like to highlight here is the Desexing and Dental scheme. The scheme financially supports desexing and dental treatment for retiring greyhounds. And if the greyhound is already desexed, funding is available for dental treatment only. The scheme has already approved more than 300 applications in its first three months and you can find out more and apply at: greyhoundcare.grv.org.au/rehoming/desexing-and-dental-scheme.
Finally, once again, I thank everyone for their patience and commitment to the sport over what is still a very challenging time. However, I think we can look forward now to warmer weather, easing restrictions and a very full racing calendar for this spring and summer. Stay safe, stay racing.