By: Greyhound Racing Victoria & Turf Trax
Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) has become the latest international regulatory body, and the first in the greyhound racing industry, to adopt mandatory use of the TurfTrax GoingStick at all its 13 tracks in south-eastern Australia.
Already widely used at horse racing venues in the Southern Hemisphere, a modified version of the GoingStick has been developed by the Cambridgeshire (UK) based technology company to create a track rating scale based on GoingStick data that is specific to sand-based greyhound racing surfaces.
Following trials of the device at Cranbourne and home of the Group 1 Melbourne Cup, Sandown Park, the first prototype was delivered to GRV in late 2019 with subsequent modifications made to the GoingStick probe, method of data collection and software.
Since April 2022 every GRV track has been supplied with its own GoingStick and data is collected ahead of all race meetings, on race days and where appropriate during fixtures. Over 200,000 individual readings have been collected to date and used to generate data sets and maps accessible to individual Track Curators and GRV personnel using the cloud-based TurfTrax Hub.
A commitment to welfare was among the driving factors behind the GRV’s decision to partner with TurfTrax to develop a uniform track rating scale.
“Providing a racing surface that’s consistent and well prepared is among our highest priorities,” said GRV CEO Stuart Laing.
“The data we collect using the TurfTrax GoingStick helps us to do that and supports our welfare and integrity programmes.
“Working with TurfTrax to develop a device that now plays a major role in how we present our sport has been a rewarding process and we are about to roll out an expanded diagnostics program that will provide even more data and analysis and will also include readings for trial days.”
Victorian greyhound racing involves more than 11,000 owners, trainers and breeders and contributes an estimated $409 million to the Victorian economy annually.
TurfTrax Managing Director, Mike Maher said, “We are absolutely delighted that GRV have implemented the TurfTrax GoingStick as part of their benchmarking and diagnostic processes.
“The adaptation of the equipment and software posed some challenges but working closely with the Racing Safety & Analytics team we were able to overcome these and roll out a system that revolutionises the way greyhound tracks are assessed.
“We believe we have developed a device and software capable of providing an industry standard and we are already in discussion with other states and jurisdictions. We have a service centre in Melbourne and can provide local support for greyhound surface products through ITM Consulting’s Bill Wilson, who has been involved in the project since its inception.”
Both Maher and Wilson will be taking part in the National Track Curators Forum hosted by GRV in Melbourne on 25 August, where a Track Ratings System and learnings from data collection and analysis will form part of a Track Diagnostic Programme discussion.