GRNSW CEO UPDATE - 07/04/2020

GRNSW CEO UPDATE - 07/04/2020


With the constantly developing issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Greyhound Racing NSW believes it is crucial to keep all participants up to date on all news involving the industry.

As such, we are encouraging all participants with questions pertaining to the COVID-19 situation, to email us here at GRNSW.

Each day I will do my best to answer questions from participants and publish them across our website and social media platforms.

If you have any questions, please email them to the following address:

Any important developments will also be published in media releases across our GRNSW network as required.

Here’s what our teams at GRNSW are being asked right now, with the responding answers (and please keep in mind that this is both an unprecedented and fast-moving situation).

1. Q: The closure of Wentworth Park has all but closed 700 metre racing in the state. When asked as to what is the contingency plan GRV has in place to assist those trainers with stayers GRV responds with,  “we simply are not receiving enough nominations to stage these races”. This lack of nominations is as a direct result of the closure of Wentworth Park and the regional segregation that serves only to disaggregate the limited number of stayers that once congregated at Wentworth Park.  Surely this outcome would have been anticipated by GRVNSW. Meanwhile Victoria is operating 4 City meetings per week and at least 3 middle distance and staying races. NSW is the only state in the country who cannot operate a city meeting or arrange for that meeting (with city prizemoney) to be relocated to another more isolated venue. The closure of Wentworth Park and the delay of feature races across the state of NSW is appearing less like a response to COVID 19 and more like a GRVNSW ”cash grab” .

A: I think when you mention GRV and GRVNSW you mean GRNSW and I will address your email that way. We do have a limited number of 700m stayers in the State, and unfortunately they are homed across a couple of regions - the Hunter and the Metro/Southern regions - which has led to us not being able to get 700m races up. We are trying to cater for these dogs in some way by scheduling 600m races and in the past six days there have been eight middle distance races conducted. It is as I said unfortunate, but let me reiterate, we have put regions in place for reason, and won’t be changing that to accommodate individual dogs or trainers. As for your analogy around Victorian city racing, the reason that racing was paused at Wentworth Park was to stop our participants having to travel into the city centre which is a greater risk for COVID-19. Wentworth Park is one kilometre from the centre of Sydney. In Victoria, Sandown is 34 kilometres and 35 minutes away from Melbourne, and The Meadows is 26 kilometres and 32 minutes from the city centre. And finally, to suggest this is a cash grab from GRNSW is utterly disappointing, particularly if you are a NSW participant. Everything we have done since this outbreak has been to keep the industry racing, and help to protect as best we can the livelihoods of the participants, while prioritising the health and safety of those participants and the industry staff. Our decision on feature races was based around not only dealing with COVID-19 but also at the time the canine coronavirus, and conducting feature races when clubs are not able to draw the best possible fields due to travel restrictions, as such not being able to publicise the event to the extent they normally would. With no crowds at venues and not being able to attract people into the region and track to stimulate the economies of the club and the town is another big issue. All of our decisions have been based on not only helping the day to day livelihoods of participants, but also secure a viable and sustainable future in the longer term for the industry.

2. Q: Tony, we hear that it will take the world, not just Australia, a long time to recover after all coronavirus is done. Will this be the case with greyhound racing in NSW as well? Will the sport look the same, or do we need to tighten our belts now?

A: There are no doubts that it will take the world a while to recover from COVID-19, and we won’t be immune to that. While we too are suffering financially right now with a significant downturn in revenue, what we are intending to do is put ourselves in the best possible position we can, to come out the other side of this and kickstart the industry as soon as we are able to. While we have been working overtime on the plan for racing now, we are also working extensively to makes sure we have a viable and sustainable future.

3. Q: My grandfather lives on the South Coast and has been involved in greyhounds since he was a young  boy. He is now stuck at home due to this terrible virus and his age restrictions. I thought maybe a greyhound for a pet might be a great idea for companionship. How should I go about getting this underway?

A: That sounds like a great idea and we have seen a real uptake on applications from people looking to do the same thing. What you can do it visit our website to view all of our greyhounds looking who are ready to find a new family. When you find one you like, fill in our simple application form. You will receive a phone call within 48 hours, where the team will discuss your ideal pet, and get a better understanding of your lifestyle. The process will continue from there and hopefully culminate in your grandfather finding a greyhound to love.

4. Q: You announced that temperature testing will be starting today. What is the elevated level?

A: Any temperature greater than 37.5 degrees Celsius. The information we have also received is that while someone may not have any symptoms on the day, if they have had symptoms, even mild symptoms, in the days prior, they should not attend the race meeting.

5. Q: In regards to temperature testing it is a medically recognised fact that people who suffer from high blood pressure exhibit elevated body temperature even when on medication as in my case. Furthermore most people will take their medication early in the day which is not much good if you are engaged in a night meeting. I don't need to drive for three hours to find myself scratched because of a common condition, which is in no way related to COVID 19, that I take medication for which may indicate that I have an elevated temperature exacerbated by hot and humid conditions.  Any suggestions?

A: The advice we have received from NSW Health is that blood pressure medication should not raise your temperature above what is deemed an elevated level. We suggest however that you consult your family doctor about this matter.

6. Q: I race greyhounds in the southern zone and appreciate the access to 4 tracks to race them at. I do feel that the trainers who reside in the southern parts of this zone ie around Nowra, are somewhat disadvantaged by the distance and time they have to travel to Goulburn and Richmond. In an effort to more equally share the limit to travel of participants in line with Government and health authority regulations, and in recognition that all tracks are maintaining their racing services to a standard to trial and race, I urge you to consider sharing the Tuesday afternoon racing slot. If you could reintroduce Nowra to share this slot with Goulburn on Tuesdays on either a 2 or 4 consecutive week block of dates turnaround basis it would go a long way to balancing out their travel commitments. Thank you on behalf of the near Nowra greyhound community.

A: I do appreciate your situation, but we do not have any plans to add any extra tracks in your region. As you said you have four tracks, and while Richmond and Goulburn may be a distance away, you are fortunate to have options at the closer Dapto and Bulli tracks, and as you mentioned, limiting travel is a desired outcome of this zoning. We would suggest you stick with the closest venues. The participants in that South Western region around or nearer to Goulburn, are in a similar situation, in that they would have a to travel to race at Dapto or Bulli - or like you propose Nowra - so to take those meetings away as you suggest would have a bigger impact on them than those in your area.

7. Q.  I have a question regarding the new rules permitting only the trainer to be at the track, unless you have 4 or more dogs. Currently my pop has 3 eligible race dogs, our closest racetrack is at Wagga which is an hour and 15 minutes away. Pop is in his mid-70s, I handle his dogs as his recently had a knee replacement. We also have 3 pups that we have been taking to the track for trialing. So all up we have 6 dogs to take to the track but only 3 race dogs. Am I eligible to go? What do you suggest we can do?

A. If your grandfather cannot attend the race meeting you – and I’m assuming you are licensed as you said you normally handle his dogs - are permitted to attend on his behalf with his permission. If you need someone to help you catch you three racing dogs, we encourage you to seek assistance from another trainer who is also attending the race meeting with their greyhounds. Your trialling pups are not permitted to attend the track during the race meeting and you are responsible for your trialling greyhounds at all times, so it will be up to you to make sure someone looks after them whilst you attend the race meeting. Please also see the Government advice around people over the age of 70.

8. Q: In your first post to everyone when the restrictions come in you mentioned country dogs will get a chance at racing for TAB prizemoney which was great. Country class dogs have not been given this chance as they are country class and in most cases are now racing in races they have no chance of winning which in turn has caused these dogs to have too many points for a Pathways and not enough points for a start. When will these dogs get a chance to be competitive? Some feedback would be nice.

A: We are constantly working on racing programs. Pathways races will accommodate the greyhounds on the lowest points. We are looking at introducing more 5th grade & maiden only meetings in the near future.

For everyone racing today at Grafton, Goulburn and the Gardens, good luck and please follow all procedures and protocols at the racetrack, and stay safe.

Don’t forget that anyone who may be struggling at the moment and wanting somebody to talk to, you can do something about that. If you do feel the need to talk to someone about your situation, please do not hesitate to call. You can speak with a qualified counsellor at any time by calling 1300 687 327.

Keep your questions coming, and everyone please keep yourselves and your families safe, and importantly be vigilant in these difficult times.

Tony Mestrov.