UTS Track Design Study Report Released
Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) has welcomed the release of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) report into greyhound race track design, heralding it as a new path towards ensuring safer race track designs and improved welfare outcomes for the greyhound racing industry.
The ‘Identifying optimal greyhound track design for greyhound safety and welfare’ report reviews the layout and injury data for NSW greyhound tracks, while also outlining major findings of computer simulation and modelling of greyhound racing.
The report makes 11 wide-ranging recommendations on how to improve greyhound race track design and in turn improve greyhound safety and welfare outcomes. Some of the key recommendations include:
• GRNSW and the Australian greyhound racing industry consider developing purpose-built straight tracks;
• Install an extended lure at all tracks;
• Progressively remove bend starts and discontinue the associated race distances;
• Increase the height of the starting box grilles to at least 400mm;
• Conduct trials with a delayed starting box opening; and
• Trialling a reduction in the number of starters from eight greyhounds to six.
GRNSW will now consider 11 recommendations and has commissioned UTS to undertake Phase II of the project to continue this vital piece of work.
Phase II will extend the injury data collected to include all Australasian tracks, evaluate the effectiveness of changes to track layouts in reducing the frequency and severity of injuries, and also recommend parameters for optimal track design. This will allow the enhancement of existing tracks as well as the better design of new tracks. The study is expected to take three years to complete at a cost of $975,000.
GRNSW interim CEO John Gibbons thanked the UTS for the work it had undertaken to date and said it would greatly help the transition to safer greyhound tracks.
“The Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in NSW as well as the Greyhound Industry Reform Panel made it clear that more needs to be done to increase safety at greyhound tracks to improve safety standards for greyhounds and reduce racing related injuries,” Mr Gibbons said.
“This watershed report and the recommendations it makes will pioneer track design reform in NSW and across Australia to ensure safer standards of racing at all levels and reduced rates of injury.
“The UTS project is just one of the key reforms GRNSW and participants are committed to undertaking as part of a much broader agenda to drastically improve animal welfare outcomes in the industry.”
Project leader for UTS, Professor David Eager said UTS was looking forward to working closely with the greyhound industry to progressively reduce preventable injuries.
“Our preliminary findings have highlighted there are multiple and interrelated track features that increase the likelihood of injuries. These include sudden changes in the camber and the lack of a smooth transition from the straight into the bend,” Professor Eager said.
The UTS work is one of the initiatives being undertaken by GRNSW to reduce racing related injuries and improve track safety. This includes commissioning the University of Sydney to undertake a study into what motivates a greyhound to chase and the introduction of a mortality review process to identify possible contributing factors to racing incidents which result in serious injury to a greyhound.
GRNSW has also introduced comprehensive injury monitoring and reporting as part of its commitment to identify and decrease the risk of injuries associated with greyhound racing.