GRNSW CEO UPDATE - 15/04/2020

GRNSW CEO UPDATE - 15/04/2020


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: Tony, I think now the dust has settled on the shock of our new world, I am above all else thankful of the steps you took to lock down zones so we could pass the standards required to continue racing. I’ve been told that if the industry did not have strict measures in place to demonstrate we were safe and responsible, then we faced the real possibility of being shut down like in Tassie. I have a few dogs that are finding it hard to get a start with the restricted number of race meetings and the maximum of 10 races per meeting. I understand now that you have settled on zones that you can’t just open it all back up, but have you considered ways to get a start for all these dogs sitting idle in kennels? For my two cents worth, you could look at double-header meetings at these safe venues – maybe an hour of 90 minutes apart – and even if the first 10 races were TAB and the second meeting was a non-TAB? We need more races at the safe venues so we can get our dogs racing or we have a big problem now and into the near future? At least can we have 12 races at all meetings – that’s another 200-plus dogs a week that can race.

A: Firstly, thanks, it’s nice to get a question with rational thinking, and yes, our zones were put in place so we could show government and communities that we can continue racing in a safe environment. We continue to race because of the efforts of all our stakeholders, especially participants. As a part of this planning we had contingencies for all sorts of scenarios. The point you make about more races for dogs across the State is top of mind for us. We are working on potential solutions, for additional races at some meetings as the first step. I understand from our racing team that this is a huge issue so that fit and healthy dogs can take their places in races. Thanks for the idea of the double-header, as you call it. We’ll take everything on board that people want to suggest to us, and we need to be practical and logical about how it fits under the priority of health and safety. But I like your solutions-based thinking!

2. Q: Tony, I see on your website that the Nationals in August have been cancelled today. The Golden Easter Egg is scheduled to begin on May 30. We have seen all the backlash the NRL is copping for wanting to start on May 28, is there any chance the Egg will happen or is it likely to be pushed back again?

A: Yes, Greyhound Clubs Australia made the cancellation announcement today about the National Championships which were to be hosted by NSW at Wentworth Park in August. We will continue to monitor the ongoing situation and will be in constant contact and discussion with the NSW GBOTA about the Ladbrokes Golden Easter Egg, and will make an announcement as soon as any decision is made.

3. Q: Hi Tony. I’m a prominent trainer in Hunter Valley. I know these are trying times and you keep saying to be patient. This is the 4th week in a row I haven’t been able to gain a start with 6 to 8 dogs in my kennel. And there’s certainly other kennels in the same boat. Every week they are missing out. Something has to be done with racing at The Gardens. I have a lower class dog that top trainers wouldn’t train. I’m trying to look after owners with slower dogs, but it’s certainly frustrating when they’re constantly not getting a run. Suggestions: Why not run a fourth meeting at The Gardens? They certainly need it with high volume of nominations.

A: Thank you for your email. I understand your plight and we are trying to facilitate races for all grades and standards of greyhounds. You are not alone in battling to gain runs, and this is something we are looking closely at. I hear from trainers with one or two dogs who cannot get a run as well, and I do see that you were at least able to gain runs with numerous dogs at those meetings at The Gardens on both Friday and Saturday this week. As I have repeatedly said, we are working with GWIC and will have a new racing schedule published this week.

4. Q: With the regions (I am located near Dubbo) I was looking for meetings coming and noticed that Dubbo only has one meeting listed for May. Will more be added as I have nominated for meetings at Dubbo and Bathurst for the previous three weeks and have not received a run with any dogs as more dogs are nominating, that would previously have gone to other tracks, which is restricting places available and it seem to be the same dogs getting weekly runs where others are missing out completely. I am on a pension and I rely on getting run each week to pay the dogs food bill. Could meetings be increase at Dubbo to two meetings a week with some just grade five and maiden dogs?

A: The calendar you are looking it is the pre-COVID-19 calendar. This will be updated this week, with consideration of additional meetings. I understand about trainers who would normally go to other tracks (outside their regions such as Wentworth Park), but unfortunately this is the situation we are in, and we must keep everyone in their regions and limit travel. Hopefully your dogs gain a start very soon and you have some success.

5. Q: Tony, is it fair to say that even when Australia gets back to some normality, that our industry will still feel the pinch from a financial sense?

A: You are absolutely right. Normality of day to day life is one thing, but normality for industries is another. For industries, this is not a case of: “Ok it’s over back to work, and everything is the way it was.” That won’t be happening. What I can say however is that GRNSW is planning now for life beyond COVID-19 and the potential financial impacts that will be felt by the industry, not only in the short term but also longer term. It will take some time for individuals and communities to recover, and this will be flowing into all business, not just racing.

6. Q; Hi Tony. You’re an old rugby league front-rower and there has been plenty of talk about the NRL resuming soon despite confusion about whether the Government is sure it should go ahead or not. In relation to this, could GRNSW potentially lift or loosen the biosecurity restrictions on raceday if the majority of our industry - both here and interstate – believe it’s ok to do so?

A: The short answer is no. We have, and will continue to be totally guided by the information given to us by the Government and the health authorities. We have put in place strict biosecurity measures to allow us to race, and we will not be removing any of those until we are told by the Government that it is safe to do so. We want everyone in our industry to remain vigilant with all these measures so we can all stay healthy and safe.

Good luck to all those racing at Grafton and Richmond today.

As I have regularly mentioned in this column these are tough times and we are as an industry all in it together, so I urge you to pick up the phone and call a fellow participant to make sure they are doing ok as well.

And please, do not forget if there is 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 yourselves and your families safe, and importantly be vigilant in these difficult times.

Tony Mestrov.