GRNSW CEO UPDATE - 22/04/2020

GRNSW CEO UPDATE - 22/04/2020


I would like to thank everyone for their contributions to this Question and Answer column which has now been going for a month, and while we do not know when the current situation will end, with each day we are one day closer to coming out the other side.

I hope that this Q & A column has been beneficial to all participants, not just those who have emailed questions.

I feel that we have handled the changes and dealt with the adversity extremely well, and I applaud you all, as well as my staff, the GWIC staff, and also those working at each of the race clubs.

It is, and will continue to be a difficult time for everyone, but as I have said from day one when the industry in NSW started dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, our first and foremost concern is for the health and safety of our participants and staff.

These Q & As began, and will continue, because I believe it’s crucial to keep all participants up to date on all news involving the industry, and I encourage everyone to keep sending in their questions pertaining to the COVID-19 situation, and I will do my best to answer them, and then publish those questions and answers across our website and social media platforms.

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

As the case has been with any important announcements or developments, we will publish those across our GRNSW network as required.

Here’s the latest round of questions sent in to GRNSW.

1. Q: First you closed Wentworth Park when coronavirus hit. Now you've taken away their biggest race by cancelling the Easter Egg. It has been spoken about for years now, and with these moves, the cynic would say you're wokring at getting rid of Wentowrht Park. Your thoughts Tony?

A: Cynics are quite often not worth listening to, and in this instance that is the case too. GRNSW are not trying “get rid” of Wentworth Park. It is our premier track and if you noticed in our release yesterday where we announced the cancellation of the Ladbrokes Golden Easter Egg, we also stated that we are working on resuming racing at Wentworth Park. We made the initial decision about pausing racing at Wentworth Park on advice that we should keep participants from travelling and particularly keep them from travelling to Sydney’s CDB area. The Easter Egg decision, while a very difficult one, was the right one to make, and a decision backed by the NSW GBOTA.

2. Q: Now that Richmond has all these meetings, shouldn’t Richmond and Bulli have their own zone and this allows people from Dapto, Nowra, Goulburn, Crookwell, Harden and Boorowa areas to race at Goulburn. With all these other extra meetings elsewhere we are still seeing 160 noms at Goulburn which isn't fair on locals for the city people traveling down to Goulburn, they should be made to stick the local track to them in a zone. 

A: There are no plans to change the zones we have in place at present. What the extra meetings at Richmond should also do, is give those “city people” more opportunity to race at Richmond which in turn will mean less will head to Goulburn. We understand the influx of nominations at all venues, and this is why we have increased meetings in all zones, and now have 21 and 22 meetings a week  scheduled, compared with 17-18 which we conducted in our ‘normal’ racing schedule, pre the COVID-19 outbreak.

3. Q: Tony if I have raced at Goulburn the last 2 weeks, am I allowed to race at Wagga Wagga and Temora?

A: No. If you have raced in one zone, that is your zone. Goulburn is in the Southern NSW/Metro zone, while Wagga Wagga and Temora are both in the Riverina zone.

4. Q: Can I take my greyhounds out of my zone to be checked?

A: The zones only relate to nominations for races and for trialling. Movement around the state is impacted by NSW Health restrictions. Many veterinary clinics have introduced their own COVID-19 protocols. If your greyhound requires veterinary care, you should phone ahead and follow their advice.

5. Q: I am wondering with people having to work remotely during this time, if this has had any impact on box draws?

A: No this has not had any impact on that process at all. Box draws are done the same way they have been for a long time, and that is that they are computer generated through the OzChase system which we use. Once the greyhounds in the field have been decided, the OzChase system randomly allocates each greyhound in the race field to a box.

6. Q: Hi Tony. Can I ask, since we cannot race at Wentworth Park on a Saturday night for the higher prizemoney and we are losing some of our good dogs to interstate because they are still offering their city prizemoney, could you program Richmond to race in place of Wentworth Park and allow all trainers to nominate for this meeting? So drop Richmond Friday and replace it with the Wentworth Park @ Richmond meeting racing for Wentworth Park Saturday night prize money?

A: Thank you for your suggestion, but unfortunately, there are number of problems with this. Firstly, we cannot open up a meeting to all trainers. The reason for the zoning was to limit travel in accordance with what the Government and health authorities have recommended for everyone. To open the ‘zone borders’ to let everyone come to Richmond would go against what we, and the Government, are trying to achieve. As for dropping the Friday Richmond meeting, I have said from the start that we are trying to cater for all participants, and we have added those extra meetings to do so. To take one away just so we can run a meeting with higher prizemoney would not be for the greater good of all the participants. We are trying to help trainers with the ‘good dogs’ by adding extra prizemoney to meetings across the State, and there will be 10 of those A2 meetings in the next month of racing.

7. Q: Hi Tony just a query from previous answers, how it would be irresponsible for us to be allowed to travel hundreds of kilometres to race on other regions. How is it NSW Health and the Government allow horses to travel on Saturday, they had a TAB Highway in Sydney and trainers came from Scone  Murwillumbah, Narrabri and so on. Is there a double standard for horses?

A: I cannot comment on those circumstances in regards to the thoroughbred, or even harness industries. I know what we have put in place and the reasons behind our decisions. We believe what we have in place is the best for our industry and the safety and health of our participants, and will continue to do so unless told otherwise by the authorities.

Good luck to those who are 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.

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.