The Sunday Afternoon "Finish On"

FOLLOWING a stunning 29.52 trial at The Meadows leading into the heats of the Group 1 Silver Chief, Sunset Spitfire boasted an unbeaten record.

Peter Davis

17 January 2021

FOLLOWING a stunning 29.52 trial at The Meadows leading into the Boxing Day heats of the Group 1 Silver Chief, Sunset Spitfire boasted an unbeaten 12-start record.

The son of Mepunga Blazer finished only fifth to Tyler Durden (when $1.30) in his Silver Chief heat and, on face value, just struggled to show the same brilliance which had him ranked as one of the fastest juveniles in the land.

Dave Hobby, while constrained by COVID-19 quarantine issues, returned to his Nambeelup base a week later but Sunset Spitfire has remained in Victoria – but not for racing purposes.

“The dog has always had a niggling wrist issue and that was why he had six-week off after his 22.25s win (over 405m) at Mandurah in late August,” Hobby said.

“The wrist was again very sore after the last run and an X-Ray showed chips in his wrist and Michael Bell took them out only last week.

“We always suspected there was an issue in the area but X-Rays at home had been unable to locate any issue.”

Hobby’s trek east – targeting the Sale Cup with Zack Monelli and Flake Monelli in addition to siblings Sunset Toxic and Sunset Spitfire’s G1 essay – was eventful to say the least.

Flake Monelli came into season soon after arriving and was mated to Barcia Bale before returning home while Sunset Spitfire returns west on Monday

“He will have six to eight weeks recuperating post-surgery before getting back into light work,” Hobby added.

Zack Monelli covered some expense with a surging win at The Meadows (over Sunset Toxic) on January 2 in a grade five sprint and has since won in impressively at Mandurah (635m) and Cannington (715m).

He’s certainly shown no ill effect from a hock fracture sustained in a trial in June and the Saturday’s Miata heats (over 715m) at Cannington will be his next outing.

LOOKING IN

From the inception of ‘tin hare’ greyhound racing in 1927, innovation has seen tracks improve, track surfaces be better curated and lure systems be upgraded.

The starting boxes, while now self-closing my means of pneumatics, a trip start and sliding shutters (rather than closing doors) are now run-of-the-mill yet one innovation from ‘left field’ is, privately, being taken up by many ‘educators’.

Starting boxes with an aperture on top of the lids are being manufactured in rural Victoria and the boxes (pictured) will soon head to the Martin and Fiona Hallinan’s property at Clergate.

The innovation of an retractible attraction at the front of the box (grill) temps a dog to move forward and, if that fails, the aperture at the rear of the boxes can be used to push the dog forward while the back of the box is closed.

It’s unique and ingenious.

THE FOCUS SHIFTS

In its near three-year history, the Greyhound Welfare Integrity Commission has been intensely targeted by participants, the media, politicians et all on structure, cost, processes and direction.

Much of the rhetoric has been agenda driven and acting CEO Steve Griffin has produced ample evidence to bat-back the negativity and, in many areas, GWIC is now perceived participants and being a can-do organisation.

The one big issue in greyhound racing in NSW which is unresolved is a really poor and unfair grading policy.

GRNSW are the sole ‘owner’ of any change and implementation of grading policy yet the processes in place are significantly broken and change is glacial.

The structure of the OzChase system is that GRNSW relies (and pays) Racing and Wagering WA to implement change and, while GRNSW consider themselves to have consulted and listened to rank-and-file participants, there is no evidence that what might well be implemented in February will be any better.

For example, at a recent Temora meeting, an unbeaten juvenile, at start six, was graded FFA event (1st to 4th grade) without ever having raced at Temora.

The circumstance of the grading was correct (it was a grade 4 dog) but the outcome is just wrong.

Young dogs require (clubs and GRNSW) programming to include age specific races, capped number of win races and more races be advertised for every meeting.

A case in point is Richmond for January 20. Just two races are programmed: a solitary Mixed Stake (0-2 wins) over 618m and a Maiden Final over 400m. Is it any wonder trainers don’t nominate for a 535m grade 5? … the prospect of that contest being drawn in an ad hoc manner is negligible.

Significant money has been spent (with Racing and Wagering WA) to automate grading and GRNSW have made a significant submission to the NSW Upper House Select Committee on the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission but the focus is moreover now on their Oxford St office and its effectiveness and efficiency.

Some of the submissions are available here: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/listofcommittees/Pages/committee-details.aspx?pk=269#tab-submissions

The grading is troubling and many calls, emails and texts to GRNSW management on this matter have not been responded to.

GRNSW is flush with cash and so much needs to be done … breeders have been abandoned and are disrespected in NSW.

More on the matter next week … there are a few hot potatoes to handle!

ROCK SOLID

Anti-greyhound racing groups have long targeted businesses and threatened negativity publicity who partner with greyhound racing.

A few years back the McGrath Foundation ended their partnership with GRNSW due to social media threats (yet still wanted the funds already raised by the industry without being prepared to accept the donation in a public way) then Sixty Roses (run by Cystic Fibrosis Foundation) was forced into a back down on a similar venture.

Only this week, the Warragul Club found had major sponsors Evans Petroleum Gippsland react very different way.

A social media campaign by anti-racing activists was threatened and their response was as affirmative as it was immediate.

The only way to deal with a bully is to not back down and the grit shown by Evans Petroleum Gippsland is a breath of fresh air.