Border Ban Leaves NSW Trainers In Limbo

Northern NSW trainers will rely on premonitory Grafton after any hopes of crossing the border to race in south-east Queensland have been dashed.

Adam Dobbin

25 March 2020

GREYHOUND trainers in the northern rivers of New South Wales will race predominantly out of Grafton after any hopes of crossing the border to race in Queensland were dashed on Tuesday.

On Monday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced her plans to shutdown the state’s borders from midnight Wednesday in a bid to minimise the growing risk of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision meant anyone planning to enter Queensland, particularly those returning from holiday or interstate travel, must isolate themselves for 14 days.

And while the border lock-down will have significant consequences for many walks of life, the greyhound industry will also feel the brunt of the restrictions.

With a high volume of trainers on either side of the Tweed reliant on crossing the border to maximise their racing opportunities, the inability to now do so will prove costly for many.

And those issues only intensified on Monday afternoon with GRNSW announcing it was moving to zoned racing in a bid to curtail as much movement within the NSW greyhound industry as possible.

With Grafton to race twice a week, and no racing at Lismore and Casino, trainers in the northern rivers will now solely rely on those two meetings for the immediate future.

One of many trainers to feel the strain of the decision is Northern Rivers based, John and Glenda Dart, disappointed with Queensland’s decision to not accept interstate nominations.

John Dart says this will not only have a huge impact upon his racing kennel, but also on racing in south-east Queensland.

“We pride ourselves on building a kennel that is best suited to city racing, and our city racing is Albion Park,” said John. 

“We rarely race at Grafton which, considering the NSW board’s decision recently, is our only racing option in coming times.”

He pointed out that he is running a business, training greyhounds, just like all those NSW-based “tradies” who will still cross the Queensland border for work each day of the business week.

“We are no different, and we need to survive this crisis just as much as anyone,” said John.

But Dart says there could be a light at the end of the tunnel, even as close as later this week, referring to a Racing Queensland statement which said:  “Further communications as to whether this decision will be ongoing will be issued later this week”.

Racing Queensland had privately hoped some dispensation could be provided to participants of the three-codes given its working nature, with the government granting approval for travel to and from work.

But for now, those hopes have gone by the wayside, with the Queensland government declaring it will roll out strict measures to enforce the border restrictions.

Police road-blocks will be implemented at the border points, with a permit required to gain access into Queensland.

It’s understood permits will be granted for those travelling to and from work, freight, emergency vehicles, emergency workers, compassionate grounds and those seeking medical treatment.

* David Brasch contributed to this article also