The Sunday Afternoon "Finish On"

WITH so much changeable and uncertainty the only norm, GRNSW, this week, has a decision to make regarding the TAB Million Dollar Chase.

Peter Davis

1 August 2021

WITH so much changeable and uncertainty the only norm, Greyhound Racing NSW, this week, has a significant decision to make regarding the TAB Million Dollar Chase.

A Zoom meeting with a group of prominent trainers was held on Friday to discuss a variety of issues, including options for the series which was amended only last week.

The series was set to commence on August 8 at Temora but Dubbo is now the starting point (August 14).

Further heat changes were made for Bathurst (now August 23), Nowra (August 16), Lismore (August 17), Gosford (August 17) while Wagga is back seven days to August 20.

All other venues remain unchanged yet the COVID-19 situation evolves daily and Friday’s meeting sought input should further restrictions be initiated by the government.

With zoned racing restricting opportunity, there seems to be three options in conducting the MDC – to be split into two divisions – each offering $500,000 to-the winner – or run finals at strategic venues around the state, each offering $200,000 to the victor.

The third is to not conduct the series whatsoever.

With the opening heats only a little more than a week away, trainers will get a final insight into the MDC this week.

There’s no doubt about GRNSW’s desire to conduct its flagship race and, if there is to be another change, be it venue allocation or prizemoney split, the next decision will be cast in stone.

The integrity of the race will be up for discussion – run an abridged version or not at all?

MAKING ‘CENTS’

With the 2020/21 Financial Year reporting underway, greyhound racing participants in Western Australia and Queensland have been given insight into where ‘their money’ is going.

WA leads the way in average prizemoney (per race) on the national ladder in greyhound racing yet Racing and Wagering Western Australia have decided to not reward turnover performance and greyhound racing prizemoney will, effectively, be static for the next 12 months.

“The greyhound code will receive a $250,000 commitment for additional races to accommodate the existing racing population, $150,000 allocated to marketing and ownership initiatives, as well as an additional $120,000 towards welfare subsidies,” RWWA’s July 28 release stated.

“The harness code will receive $460,000 assigned to marketing initiatives in an effort to revitalise the code and an additional $160,000 will go towards the newly introduced superannuation payments for drivers.

“Under a new media rights agreement for harness, greyhound and non-metropolitan thoroughbred race clubs, a further $3.3m will be allocated to club funding.”

A tidy $30.7m has been set aside for infrastructure across all codes but the only stated inclusion is the re-development of the Bunbury Turf Club.

Thereafter, a minor pool of $2.5m has been set aside for financial assistance towards minor projects while a breeding incentive scheme for thoroughbreds secures $2.5m and $1.4m is to be directed into thoroughbred marketing … yada, yada yada.

Ultimately, in WA, both harness and greyhound racing receive an extra $520,000 each from the $10-plus million boost – in lay maths a paltry 10 per cent.

Make no mistake, a 10 per cent upswing for harness racing is fair given their marketplace share of turnover … but it’s right on half of what greyhound racing’s returns are.

Across the nation, harness racing turnover has been static for years while greyhound racing’s wagering receipts have boomed.

Harness racing has spent millions in media coverage (pre-race interviews ad nauseum) but it has made little to no impression with punters.

Hot on the heels of the RWWA announcement came Racing Queensland’s decision on how to allocate nearly $29m in an additional money. The windfall has come from an improved Point of Consumption Tax outcome yet the distribution has disappointed greyhound racing folk.

Prizemoney and infrastructure will be RQ’s focus yet, in a mirror image of the RWWA outcome, greyhound racing has been left behind in terms of fairness.

“Greyhound racing will see boosts of $1.7m to prizemoney while harness receives $900,000 along with $800,000 per year injected into the QBRED breeding scheme,” the RQ statement said.

The splurge on greyhound racing will see increases across the board on all graded events while funding has also been earmarked for the Bundaberg track rebuild as well as front and back straight sectional cameras at all tracks.

Yes, there will be increases but will a few dollars here and there will not cut the mustard?

What is required across all jurisdictions is a distribution ratio which is proportionate to the code’s position in the wagering marketplace.

GRSA have a very transparent process in place and seek to return 58 per cent of income to participants.

GRV is in the midst of a civil war with participants and the initial meeting (of three) in mediation was put to bed this week. Victorian’s can only dream of a 58 per cent return and they’d be overjoyed at 50 per cent.

GRNSW will publish their annual report in near future and further oversight will be had then. Importantly, GRNSW have spent a lot of money on track upgrades and have kicked a real goal with their Greyhounds As Pets program, with Jessica Fox and Tim Cahill as high profile ambassadors.

The national picture is clouded given that RWWA, Tasracing and RQ are tri-code responsible but the bottom line is that greyhound racing – in the big picture – is undervalued, unrewarded and disrespected in returns to participants.

Both RWWA and RQ were contacted for comment.

The full RWWA announcement is here: https://www.rwwa.com.au/blog/wa-racing-set-to-receive-record-funding/ while oversight of the Queensland situation can be found here: https://www.thegreyhoundrecorder.com.au/news/cash-splash-for-queensland-racing-35985

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

Great news this week was the appointment of David Simonette to the eight-person RWWA Board.

The role became available when greyhound racing Code Director Gary Gliddon – after 10 years of incumbency – elected to not continue his role.

After industry consultation, the WAGBOTA and Greyhounds WA agreed to put forward the Greyhound Clubs Australia chief executive to Racing Minister Reece Whitby who green lighted the appointment.

Simonette has a lifetime of experience in greyhounds racing – owner, breeder trainer, steward, broadcaster and administrator. Fair say, there is not another person on this mortal coil with such a resume to match.

The role commences from August 1 for a three-year term and if there’s any certainty about ‘Simmo’s’ appointment, it’s that he will be championing greyhound racing’s proper funding from day one!

https://www.rwwa.com.au/blog/new-board-directors-appointed/

UP NORTH

While RQ are about to spend money upgrading the track at Bundaberg, there is a sense of despair further north as Townsville’s future is clouded as no lease for the facility – with the Show Society to conduct greyhound racing – has been signed.

Some 350 greyhounds are trained in the local area and the lack of certainty for owners and trainers is quite troubling.

Trialling is restricted to one day (Wednesday) only for one hour per week and no trialling is permitted after race meetings. The one hours sessions are said to be near chaotic.

The Townsville Cup is due to be held in early September yet, without a lease in place and guaranteed tenure, the $40,000 to-the-winner race is under threat of not being run.

Racing Queensland have thrown their hands in the air and the next move the greyhound community might have consider is attracting the attention of Racing Minister Grace Grace.