GRNSW CEO UPDATE - 23/04/2020

GRNSW CEO UPDATE - 23/04/2020


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: I notice that the graders have programmed an 11 race meeting at Richmond on Sunday. Does this mean that restrictions have been lifted and I can go to the track to help the trainer even if he doesn’t have 4 dogs engaged?

A: No, it doesn’t mean that at all. Restrictions have not been lifted or eased at all. Biosecurity is still at the forefront of what we are doing in keeping everyone safe and racing going ahead. At the time GRNSW and GWIC had been continually reviewing the race day protocols around the kennelling and racing of greyhounds, to adhere to the measures previously communicated to industry. Given the resource intensive approach of the process, the decision was made to put the 10-race limit on race meetings. We have continued to review the process and decided to raise that limit to 11 races while still meeting all the required safety levels.

2. Q: As you are well aware, Maitland doesn’t have enough nominations, the least in the state so far since this crisis. I think you have made the wrong decision to bring Maitland back instead of Gosford because there are only a handful of trainers that race at this track because most dogs don’t like it. How about you try Maitland one week and Gosford the next week?

A: I spoke last week when I was asked about Gosford being the black sheep. I said it is not the only venue currently not being used in the state and that we have shown over the past few weeks that we are trying to get as many racing options open, and are mindful that we do need to have as many tracks back racing ASAP and Gosford is on that list. As for Maitland, we had 92 nominations and have programmed 11 races. We opened Maitland in the Hunter region – might I add, after significant feedback from participants – to give trainers a different type of track to Ladbrokes Gardens to race at.

3. Q: Hi Tony, I’m feeling a little frustrated at the moment as there are not many distance races over 600m programmed in the Hunter for non graders. There only seems to be races programmed for 0-3 wins. I have nominated for three race meetings now and not been able to get a run is there races coming up?

A: Looking at the program I can see there are 600m and 715m Non Grades programmed for May 1, May 15, and a 600m Non Grade on May 22.

4. Q Hello Tony, firstly I want to congratulate you on the way that Greyhound Racing NSW have conducted yourselves during the lockdown. I have just been notified that the NSW rugby league competitions are planning on again very soon. Will this be when a penciled in start for non-TAB racing and normal racing will commence depending on advice?

A: We will not be solely guided by what other sports are doing. As I have said all along, we will guided by the information given to us by the Government and health authorities. We have been discussing and looking at plans for the next phase of COVID-19 restrictions, and will be ready to move on these when – and when we are told – it is deemed the right time.

5. Q: Why wasn’t there any 259m races on at Lismore last Tuesday. There wasn’t full fields in a few races and all the 259 dogs stayed at home. If you put them on would have full field races?  

A: There were two races – the FFA and a 2/3/4 grade both over 420m – with a vacant box but that was all. We had 160 nominations for the meeting with Masters 420m, NG 520m and NG 635m advertised. There were simply too many nominations over the 520m & 420m to justify running a 259m event. With the extra meetings provided for in the northern rivers, a top grade 259m event is likely to be drawn in the next meeting or two.

6. Q: You say you are working on bringing Wenty Park back, will this be for all trainers to nominate regardless of zone? I hope it is otherwise once again GRNSW is only catering for the metro trainers. The country trainers are starting to lose faith in the decisions made by yourself. Seems like you are only looking after the top trainers.

A: We announced only this week that 10 meetings during this current racing schedule will carry Wednesday city prizemoney, and that is spread across all regions, so I find it difficult to say we are only looking after the top trainers. We have put all these processes in place to help and, as best we can, cater for all participants, country, city, regional, those who have city class dogs, and those who don’t. We will make announcements around Wentworth Park when the appropriate time comes.

7. Q: First of all, a round of applause for all the staff and participants who have stepped up to meet our current challenges so well. It took a bit of getting used to the new raceday protocols but we all soon adjusted and they seem to be working very well. So well in fact that I'm wondering if some could be retained once more normal operations resume.  The controlled kennelling may take a bit longer but still gets the job done. The computer-generated kennel allocation is a great idea. For me, I'm really liking being handed a clean, dry racerug to put on my dog. This is one policy that absolutely should stay. I know it's an extra duty for kennel staff to wash and dry the rugs but this has been the policy at Wentworth Park previously and I could never understand why it couldn't be implemented at all tracks.

A: Thank you for your email, and I echo the sentiments that I want to congratulate all participants and staff who have rallied together through this, and accepted the changes which needed to be made. We are learning numerous things for the changes and restrictions which have been put in place, and where applicable we will put things into practice when we come out of COVID-19.

Good luck to those racing at Dubbo and Dapto 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.