GRNSW CEO UPDATE - 24/04/2020

GRNSW CEO UPDATE - 24/04/2020


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: Hello again, I'm starting to think there is another problem as all the meetings at Richmond still are getting 150+ noms, same as Bulli, Dapto, Goulburn. It should be down near 100 each meeting now or have another 50 new trainers just got their licence or something because this should not be happening. This problem needs to be fixed or you will have a lot of smaller trainers starting to drop out of training and that will cost GRNSW in the end.

A: We are very well aware of the abundance of nominations at most venues. I can assure you we don’t have a sudden influx of new trainers, but what you must remember is that we now also have dogs who would have been racing at Non-TAB venues looking to get runs on TAB tracks as well. I think you may also find that originally when we implemented the regional zoning, we conducted just 11 meetings in that first seven days. We have gradually added meetings and tracks, and from next week we will be racing 21-22 times a week, even more than when things were normal, prior to COVID-19. The feeling is that this will help to ease the situation with nominations.

2. Q: When NSW introduced performance trials, they at the same time increased the time from 30 minutes to 45 minutes from close of kenneling to the first race. The performance trials have now been discontinued. Could we then go back to the 30 minutes between end of kenneling and the first race as 45 minutes seems excessive.

A: While we don’t have performance trials now, the additional kenneling time is beneficial to officials and staff during this time of biosecurity measures and it won’t be changing in the immediate future.

3. Q: Hi Tony. Yes I’m glad we are racing and so are 100% of trainers and owners. But Tony we are losing dogs to interstate because we don’t have a city track racing at the moment. I understand when you first contacted the Government things looked very bad. But things have now changed Tony and there are limited outbreaks in all NSW and Australia. If you want to stop NSW dogs being sent to other states this needs to be looked at ASAP!! The new boxing system needs to be looked at. Tony some trainers are taking their time to box their dogs and the first dogs are in the boxes longer than 60 seconds at times . Look at statistics the 1 and 5 dogs are not doing as well in races as they were when boxed in the old system. Can I propose changing the system to: 1-5-8 first line, 2-4-6 second line, 3-7 third line. This way we are keeping with in the 1.5m or arms’ length away from each other. Tony as you can see GRNSW are not doing much wrong but as Coach or Captain of the team you must want to do things better. These are the places where your team can thrive to do better at. I have criticised but I have also given ways to improve or rectify these problems. I commend you at the job you’re doing in these unprecedented times by listening to participants in this great sport. We have come a long way but we still have a long way to go.

A: Thank you for email and your suggestions. I have mentioned recently that we are looking and working with the GBOTA around plans for Wentworth Park, and will make an announcement when any decision is made. As for the limited outbreaks, this is obviously great news, but you must also have heard that we cannot relax, and that there is a prospect of a second wave and if we don’t stay vigilant, especially with Winter coming, we could face new challenges. Of course we don’t want to see our good dogs go interstate, but I do understand the choices trainers and owners want to make. We have tried to help everyone in the industry, by adding prizemoney where we can, introducing new series such as the Ladbrokes Super Series announced today, and racing at more venues and with more meetings. Our hope is that these dogs heading interstate now, will return to NSW when the opportunity arrives. As for the boxing of dogs, again thank you for your suggestion, and as I mentioned recently, the boxing of greyhounds before the races is a new process that has been adopted in all other jurisdictions. GRNSW and GWIC will work with clubs to ensure starters perform this role as efficiently as possible. For the time being the current process will continue. I haven’t been through the statistics as closely as I am sure you have, and do not doubt what you are saying, but I quickly looked at Dapto last night, and found that in six of the 10 races, either 1 or the 5 led. As you again pointed out, we have a long way to go, and we will continue to make sure that greyhound racing in NSW gets through this pandemic, and can be a sustainable and viable industry on the other side of COVID-19.

4. Q: Why was Lismore picked to hold meetings instead of Casino? I get it’s 30 minutes closer to the Queensland border for the trainers that way, but most them would rather race at Casino as it is a circle track. You also have Grafton on and it’s shaped the same as Lismore. Would’ve been more sense to hold it at Casino to give the chance to the dogs who don’t like the shape of Lismore/Grafton. Also Grafton was meant to have a big upgrade but now with all this going on will they ever get the upgrade, or will it just keep getting pushed back time and time again?

A: I think I covered this off a couple of days ago, but again, when it was decided to add another track to the Northern Rivers region, the feedback we received prior to that decision, from participants, was that Lismore was the preferred track to reopen. As we have shown in recent weeks we have been able to allow additional clubs to race. Casino is not the only club in the State not racing, and as I have stated, we are working on being able to resume racing to its full capacity over time. In terms of works at the Grafton track, the DA process is progressing well and once complete we will look to commence work immediately.

5. Q: Hello Mr Mestrov, would it be possible to bring a handler with us if we have two dogs in one race.  Even if they just came on course for the duration of the race. We are finding it extremely difficult to find people we know to handle our dogs. Especially in late races and where catchers are also required. Many thanks for the tough job you are doing.

A: Thank you for your email. For the present time we must continue to limit the number of people we have on the racetracks. Let’s not forget there are still restrictions in place in many other industries, and the one that springs to mind is that attendees at a funeral are limited to just 10 people. I understand your plight, and urge all other participants to help out your fellow trainers in these times, with things such as catching dogs.

6. Q: Why can't Dubbo also race twice a week like Bathurst there is large number of dogs missing out every week. Rumour is those in charge are too busy and don't want to do it?

A: For starters don’t believe every rumour you hear. Everyone in our industry from the GRNSW staff, to GWIC staff, to race club staff, are all extremely busy as we all try to keep the industry going under exceptional circumstances. And everyone, especially the participants, are doing a tremendous job. We wanted to have three meetings in that Western Region each week during this last schedule, and made the choices we made. As I mentioned we are now racing 21-22 times a week, more than we would under normal circumstances and this of course takes resources. We continue to look at how things are working and if changes are required, we will make them.

Congratulations to all those who had success at Goulburn today, and good luck to those racing at Ladbrokes Gardens and Richmond later 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.

Before I sign off, I’d like to take this opportunity with ANZAC day tomorrow, to offer our gratitude and heartfelt thanks, on behalf of everyone in our industry, to all the men and women who have, or who are servicing our country, and please never forget the sacrifices they have made, and continue to make, so that we can have the lives and have the advantages that we have today. Please have them all in your thoughts tomorrow on our special day.

Keep yourselves and your families safe, and importantly be vigilant in these difficult times.

Tony Mestrov.