It’s Time For Box Protocols To Return To Normal

HANDS up those that can remember a time when boxing procedures of greyhound races were nice and simple - odds, evens and off you go. Right?

Adam Dobbin

7 July 2020

HANDS up those that can remember a time when boxing procedures were simple.

Odds, evens and off you go. Right?

All seemed simple enough but during the coronavirus pandemic it was universally agreed among state bodies that the industry would shift to the cumbersome model we see today.

And while the benefits are debatable, the flaws are, seemingly, not up for discussion.

Such is the dragged out nature of the model, the process, as much as the talent of those engaged, is determining the result of races.

Punters are avoiding dogs boxed longer than they should be like the plague and there are instances where trainers are using it to their advantage.

At times, tempers have become frayed when manipulation of the ‘boxing’ synchronicity is compromised time-wise.

Add to the mix the fact that it is teaching young dogs bad habits and there’s good reasoning to revert back to the tried and trusted model immediately.

The concept that the exaggerated four-line boxing model supports social distancing doesn’t pass the pub test.

Not now, anyway.

Watch a thoroughbred race and you’ll see jockeys crammed into a set of starting gates. If greyhound racing is practicing government best-practice policy just what rule of thumb does the gallopers come under?

Harness racing much the same.

And when you consider the very same people that are boxing the greyhounds are in close proximity just moments later in the catching pen, there’s more than enough reason to revert back to normality.

Everyone agrees that greyhound racing has done a mighty job to continue racing through this tough time.

Introducing the strict biosecurity measures it has provided governments enough comfort to allow racing to continue when sports, and just about everything else, came to a standstill.

But for where we stand now, surely two groups of four handlers – spaced apart – boxing their greyhounds is acceptable.

You could draw a myriad of parallels to justify it if you needed.

And let’s not forget that all those trackside have been temperature tested before being allowed on-course.

The long-winded boxing model is now serving to hinder, not help.

The events in Victoria the past 48 hours are a stern reminder that COVID-19 will not retreat overnight.

And one can’t help but feel its escalation in Victoria will see the model stay in place longer than it otherwise may have.

Calls from trainers to do away with the slow-moving boxing model is getting louder by the day.

They understand its need has exceeded its ‘use by’ date.

It’s understood serious consideration is being given to reverting to the standard model, following Queensland’s lead which moved back last week.

Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later.