McKinley Left In Tatters Over Covid Breach

AN “emotionally distraught” Glen McKinley says his livelihood has been left in tatters after being handed a 19-week DQ for Covid breaches.

Adam Dobbin

24 September 2021

AN “emotionally distraught” Glen McKinley says his livelihood has been left in tatters after being handed a 19-week disqualification for Covid related breaches.

McKinley, who resides in the Penrith district, was slapped with three charges from Greyhound Welfare & Integrity Commission (GWIC) stewards after attending the Goulburn race meeting as a handler on Friday, August 27.

The former New Zealand Group 1-winning thoroughbred trainer was charged with engaging in conduct prejudicial to the control and promotion of racing; failing to comply with a lawful order of GWIC; and failing to comply with GWIC policy which requires persons to obtain a Service NSW permit.

The three charges, all related to failing to obtain a Service NSW travel permit, resulted in individual disqualifications of six, three and six months which GWIC ruled to be served concurrently.

With a dispensation for his guilty plea, McKinley will be sidelined for a total of 19 weeks.

“I’m an emotional wreck – totally devastated,” McKinley told the Greyhound Recorder.

“I explained to the Stewards that I’d tried to obtain a Service NSW permit and that the app kept crashing. 

“I even went into the Service NSW at Richmond to try and sort it out.

“I told the Stewards I’d got a Covid-19 test which returned negative before travelling and that while I live in Greater Sydney I wasn’t in one of the 12 LGA’s of major concern.

“I’ve been left gutted by the whole thing. It’s left me on my knees.”

Only adding to McKinley’s woes was the decision by GWIC to suspend the greyhounds which he owns from racing after being handed the lofty disqualification.

“I was made to feel like I’d committed some barbaric act,” McKinley said.

“I owned 45 greyhounds around the country and for them to race again for their trainers’ I had to sell them – I had no other choice, so it became a complete firesale. In the end I sold 29 of them.

“And even then I couldn’t transfer their ownership unless GWIC was satisfied that the sale was at arms length from myself. Those greyhounds were my income, my livelihood. I didn’t want to sell them but I had no option.

“I understand how important the Covid-19 rules are to keep racing going but I haven’t spoken to one person that’s listened to my story that hasn’t said I’ve been hardly done by.

“The whole thing has left me completely devastated. I’ve had some fantastic support from clubs and other participants which has been great. But to lose your livelihood for five months is heartbreaking and crippling.”

McKinley is currently in the process of appealing the severity of the GWIC decision with the Racing Appeals Tribunal.

In pleading guilty, McKinley accepted his failure to follow a GWIC directive and obtain a Service NSW permit to travel to Goulburn on August 27.

“Prior to travelling I called the RMS to try and sort it out and even when arriving at Goulburn I tried to get a permit with witnesses on the club’s computer,” McKinley said.

“I put my hand up and explained the situation. What more could I do?

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been charged by the Stewards and I’ve had the book thrown at me. They even opposed my stay of proceedings application.

“Since this has happened I’ve been having panic attacks and the financial toll is already taking hold. I don’t know where it will end or if I’ll even get through.” 

Like the rest of the racing world, McKinley has watched on recently as Victorian jockeys Jamie Kah, Ben Melham, Ethan Brown, Mark Zahra and Celine Gaudrey were handed ranging penalties for orchestrating the Airbnb party at Mornington last month.

On Thursday, champion Sydney apprentice Tom Sherry was handed a four month riding suspension for riding trackwork while awaiting a Covid-19 test which ultimately returned positive.

Stewards ruled the apprentice can continue to ride trackwork and in barrier trials while suspended once he is cleared of Covid-19.

And just last week, NSW thoroughbred trainers John Thompson and Craig Carmody were handed $18,750 fines but are free to continue training after breaking Racing NSW Covid-19 protocols.

To put McKinley’s disqualification into context, he’ll spend the same amount of time sidelined as Jamie Kah who has been charged with not only deliberately flouting Covid-19 rules but also lying to stewards.

“When I pleaded guilty I understood there would be a consequence but not to this extent,” McKinley stressed.

“I don’t want to compare situations, I will leave that to others. But I’ve gone to a race meeting to handle my greyhounds – I never intended to hide anything and was completely upfront.”

GWIC Stewards said that when determining McKinley’s penalty they considered his good record in the industry over a long period of time, his guilty plea and the contrition shown.

They furthered by saying the conduct demonstrated a serious failure to adhere to protocols that have been implemented to ensure the ongoing operation of greyhound racing in NSW and those which participants have worked hard to comply with in protection of the sport.

* This matter is currently being internally reviewed by GWIC at the request of Mr. McKinley’s legal counsel