The Sunday Afternoon "Finish On"

A wholesale review of the rules of greyhound racing is a consultative process yet change is glacial when it comes to the functionality of GA.

Peter Davis

2 May 2021

A wholesale review of the rules of greyhound racing is a consultative process yet change is glacial when it comes to the functionality of Greyhounds Australasia and their member states.

Interpretation of marring and failing to pursue the lure rules are shambolic, the use of tanned skins for trialling, the capacity to treat for pannus with hydrocortisone (and race with a limited threshold in NSW) are but a few examples of how states apply local (and overriding) rules to the national set.

And that brings me to Saturday’s second race at Cannington ‘won’ by Jett’s Cracker.

RWWA Stewards considered that the lure – at the winning post the first time of the 600m event– was not the required “five to eight metres” ahead of the lead dog as per GAR rules (Rapido Lass) and, in fact, it was only two or so metres away.

At her first 600m test, Rapido Lass was expected lead from box one and she did just that.

Despite changing stride with little significance, she led from Jumbo Jet (box two) and Lonnie Loot (five) through the catching pen the first time.

From the middle stages, the lure was out of camera shot and into the home straight is again visible and at an acceptable distance from Rapido Lass.

With 80m to run, a tiring Rapido Lass, got a little wide (as is her racing pattern) and, up the inside strode Jumbo Jet and ‘winner’ Jett’s Cracker.

Little doubt the interpretation of the GAR rule was precise but unflinching and with RWWA Stewards’ decision to declare the event a no-race, there is no subjectivity.

How does a minor issue deliver such a significant outcome?

No runner was disadvantaged in such a way that the result was compromised yet the rules were applied letter to the law but without a scintilla of common sense.

Surely all stewarding must have a component of interpretation and a sense of professionalism but at Cannington, the letter of the law was applied thick and fast.

Here’s the replay … decide for yourself!

Interestingly, on course at Cannington, a head-on replay (of the home straight incident) showed Rapido Lass turning her head to the inside but it’s not really apparent on the lateral view.

At most race meetings, there is greater variance regarding the distance of the lure to the lead dog and, at Bathurst on April 5, stewards declared all clear on Race 10 despite the lure getting “too far in front of the lead dog”.

Discretion was in the Bathurst wheelhouse but it was absent at Cannington.

LOOKING AHEAD

Back in August 2019, the inaugural National Greyhound Symposium in Perth was a runaway success.

COVID-19 issues prevented an annual reprise but, in Melbourne in August, the second symposium will be conducted and it’s free for all to attend.

The Sofitel on Collins will host the event on August 26 with the day-long function targeting innovation in greyhound racing.

Experts will address the improved and practical use of technology in greyhound racing which has seen vast improvements in welfare, track safety and injury management.

The well-being of greyhounds is a priority for all and new initiatives from whelping to retirement will be discussed.

While the symposium is just over three months away, bookings can be in coming weeks via a dedicated web site.

CLASH OF TITANS

The virtual match race between Tommy Shelby and Sunset Spitfire at Cannington on Saturday did not disappoint.

For Sunset Spitfire to maintain his beaten record at the Perth track, a flawless display was required yet the black dog still led at the first turn after a moderate getaway from box eight.

To defy such a proven Group 1 performer in Tommy Shelby, Sunset Spitfire reaffirmed his position as one of the premier sprinters in the land. He along with kennelmate Zack Monelli head to Melbourne on Monday for simultaneous Group 1 assaults at Sandown.

Dave Hobby then intends to head north for a winter campaign in Queensland and, the way the pair are going, they’ll take a power of beating in whatever feature events they contest.

NO BETTING

One major gripe with punters is getting a decent bet set with corporate bookmakers.

On Saturday, one colleague, attempting to get set at $3.20 for a significant win bet with the NSW TAB (in the $1000’s) on Zipping Kyrgios was twice rejected before the price came into $2.60.

In a matter of seconds from the second rejection, the price firmed.

Coincidental?

He was not offered a portion of his bet (under minimum wagering rules?) but then decided to take the $2.60 (I’d have told ‘em to shove it!) and he duly saluted.

Responsible gambling is chanted daily by the corporate entities but it’s just window dressing. If a punter is profiled as a ‘loser’ they’ll take his/her cash all day long … in a responsible way but not if the shoe is on the other foot.

IT’S FIXED

Expect news that the 2022 Golden Easter Egg will not be locked into the Easter holiday period.

The moveable aspect to Easter has brought about challenges to the national Group Race Calendar and clashes – last month’s Perth Cup and Galaxy for example – were unable to be avoided.

More precise programming has been agreed to with the Golden Easter Egg set to be conducted on the second weekend of April next year.

It’s terrific that common ground could be found but more synergy should to be discussed.

How about GRV and other state bodies sharing race replays on their respective web sites? Or, even better, FastTrack and OzChase becoming one entity.

Surely the cost savings would be significant and may even drive turnover. More on that next week and the transparency GRSA have with their distribution of income back to industry.

HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?

It’s said that abandonment of the Ballarat meeting last Wednesday is subject to external review.

Plenty of speculation surrounds the maintenance and condition of the Ballarat track prior to the April 28 meeting. Some say there were issues there on April 17 for a trial session, a dog suffered a hock fracture on April 19 and the track was inspected after Race 5 but deemed safe for the program to continue.

Another dog tore a back muscle in Race 7 on the same day and then two dogs suffered fractures there on April 21.

Add in Sunset Bourbski’s career ending (but not catastrophic) injury in a trial at Ballarat on April 27 and there’s plenty for the revision team to look at.

And for the meeting to proceed on April 28, stewards inspected the track (for safety) before Race 1 and gave it the all clear!

Slop: The turn into the home straight at Ballarat on April 28. Pic supplied.

Here’s what the turn into the home straight looked like after the opening race on Wednesday and the view was taken that it was unsafe for the meeting proceed.

Have the stewards been to OPSM since?

Maybe it was watered after the initial inspection but that’s going to be part of the inquiry work on the track in the weeks prior to April 28 are critical.

It’s important that any participant report an injury from trialling at Ballarat and any dog to have raced there and be injured (but not subject to veterinary oversight) advise/report the nature of the issue when the review is underway.

The terms of reference will hopefully be to identify/disclose the cause and develop strategy to mitigate so that Ballarat’s problems are never revisited.

ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL?

GRV’s social media content is targeted at wagering yet on Wednesday, following the abandonment of Ballarat, the tweets kept a comin’.

It’s far from a mortal sin yet the scheduling of social media output is simple enough and someone should be assigned the task of desisting on social interaction if ma meeting is cancelled whether it be inclement weather, track condition or technical issues.