The past two months have been a particularly busy time for the industry with the introduction of the new Masters racing category and the launch of the Thank Dog It’s Friday racing series.
The new Masters racing category is one development I am particularly excited about.
Masters racing is open to greyhounds aged 3 ½ years and over and primarily aimed at prolonging the careers of older racing greyhounds and maximising the racing opportunities available. It is also closely aligns with the National Welfare Strategy, which GRNSW has been a strong proponent of.
Its introduction was not only seen as a key welfare initiative but also as a direct result of the consultation forums GRNSW conducted with industry participants and stakeholders across NSW late last year.
Throughout the consultation process, industry participants said they would support initiatives that would provide more opportunities for older greyhounds to continue their racing careers.
It has been extremely heartening to see participants get behind the early stages of the Masters racing scheme, with races in this category being staged across the state on a regular basis each week since its introduction in early September.
GRNSW is dedicated to ensuring Masters racing is a success and as such is keen to hear any feedback or suggestions participants may have about the scheme. This feedback will be incorporated into six month review that will look at all aspects of the scheme including Masters grading and current age restrictions.
Another important initiative that has recently been launched was the Thank Dog It’s Friday racing series, which helps showcase the best racing regional NSW has to offer in a primetime Friday night timeslot.
One of the priorities of the Thank Dog It’s Friday series is to encourage new racegoers to get trackside to see what fun a night at the dogs can actually be and to witness the best racing the sport has to offer. This campaign has been supported by an advertising campaign in both print and on radio.
Having attended the Black Top at Unibet Gardens and the Sportingbet Megastar at Dapto, it has been very pleasing to see a number of new racegoers along with the regulars attend these race nights and – from all reports – have a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
I look forward to this continuing at the next leg of the series – the Group 2 Lismore Cup – in October.
Finally, I would like to personally congratulate Doreen Drynan on winning the Group 1 National Sprint Championship for NSW with her kennel superstar Chica Destacada.
Doreen has been involved in the NSW greyhound racing industry for more than 40 years and her win at Cannington (which was her first Group 1 success) was just reward for her dedication to the sport and the hard work that she has put in over so many years.
When I first became involved in the administration of our sport, the peak body’s commitment to greyhound re-homing essentially amounted to making a $15,000 contribution towards a third party program. Whilst we have moved along way down the road since that time with the launch of Greyhounds as Pets (GAP) and many other greyhound welfare initiatives, the acquisition of an industry owned complex to expand the capacity of GAP is a capstone moment for the sport in this State. It is testament to not only the progress made, but our unwavering commitment to continue to deliver superior greyhound welfare outcomes and to meet contemporary community expectations of our industry.
It was great to have our new Racing Minister Troy Grant MP at the property to officially launch the initiative. Minister Grant described the purchase as a great step forward for the greyhound racing industry in NSW, congratulating Greyhound Racing NSW for having an eye not only on the present, but to the future to address perception issues around greyhound welfare, and to meet community and industry expectations.
The business logic of what we are doing is pretty straight forward. We will continue to operate the property as a commercial pet boarding business whilst using the capacity of the property and proceeds of the business to effectively expand GAP. You can read more about the Wyee property elsewhere in this edition of the Chaser.
Ultimately GAP is only one part of the industry’s overall approach to ensuring excellence in greyhound welfare. To that end it is pleasing that Greyhounds Australasia has endorsed a new national approach to help ensure continued improvement in greyhound welfare outcomes. The national approach has been adopted as a result of the joint Greyhound Welfare strategy announced by Greyhound Racing Victoria and GRNSW in February. The industry will now benefit from a more effective flow of information between states and territories and will work together to achieve Australia-wide welfare objectives.
For many of us, we don’t know Sydney greyhound racing without the voice of Paul Ambrosoli, a voice made for broadcasting. Paul’s retirement in late June has provided an opportunity to reflect on his career and contribution to the sport. Clearly without peer as a greyhound broadcaster, PA has been a tremendous advocate for the sport, a mentor and a showman with the knack for marketing and advertising. I for one only know one phone number to call for a cab, 13 10 17. Paul is as at home in talking about great moments on the track from yesteryear as he is about how greyhound racing positions itself in the contemporary wagering market. Above all else PA is a thorough gentlemen – when times get tough Paul is first on the phone, not to discuss the issue of the day, but rather to check how you were going, “as a person”.
The number of tributes paid and extensive interest in Paul’s last week of broadcasting, from not only the greyhound racing fraternity but across the broader media, would have undoubtedly both surprised and humbled him PA, such is the man.
An outstanding video tribute capturing PA’s final night behind the microphone has been produced for GRNSW by Ben Damon and if you have not had a chance to view it as yet, I would urge you to check it out here.
Nationally sales on the meeting reached $3.5 million, growing by more than 22% when compared to the previous year, with 31% of the sales coming from the corporate bookmaking sector.
The success of this year’s Macro Meats Golden Easter Egg was undoubtedly enhanced by the coverage of our primary media partner SKY Racing and the showcasing of the meeting on SKY Racing2.
It is also testament to the work of Brenton Scott and Ellen Dwyer who have worked tirelessly in recent years to build the overall carnival into a showpiece for NSW greyhound racing that all participants can be proud of.
Cystic Fibrosis is the most common life threatening, recessive genetic condition affecting Australian children. At present there is no cure, but organisations such as Cystic Fibrosis NSW are dedicated to funding further research into the condition and providing services and support to people in NSW who live with Cystic Fibrosis.
Our partnership with Cystic Fibrosis NSW has raised in excess of $100,000 over the last three years and it was extremely pleasing to see Greyhound Racing South Australia join the campaign in 2014.
The funds raised have not only been from the donation of $250 for every red dog winner at a 65 Red Roses race meetings, but also the significant fundraising efforts of the club network over this time.
Cystic Fibrosis CEO Michele Adair has been a regular attendee at our race meetings throughout May as have many of her board members.
This will come as no surprise to those of you who attended the 2013 NSW Greyhound of the Year awards and heard the warmth and sincerity for which Michele spoke of the partnership with our sport when presenting the Richmond Race Club with an award acknowledging their fundraising efforts last year.
Finally, as many of you will know by now, Darren Simpson who was the Chief Operating Officer at GRNSW has left to take on a new challenge in the world of AFL.
Darren has been an integral part of GRNSW over the last nine and half years and the primary contact for a variety of issues for our race clubs.
In closing, I wanted to publicly acknowledge and thank Darren not only for his contribution to the sport and GRNSW itself, but also for the support, loyalty and counsel he has provided me over the years.
We recently finalised the race dates for 2014/15 with the primary changes aimed at better showcasing our feature racing in New South Wales. As part of these changes the National Derby and National Futurity will return to their traditional home at Wentworth Park in January 2015 whilst the Black Top, Megastar, Lismore Cup, Gosford Cup, Richmond Derby, Maitland Gold Cup and Bulli Gold Cup will be staged in the prime Friday night timeslot providing the best opportunity to showcase quality greyhound racing across the State.
Staging premium provincial meetings in what is normally the domain of the metropolitan track meeting is common place across the three codes of racing. In New South Wales for instance the feature Hawkesbury gallops meeting occurs as a ‘stand alone’ Saturday afternoon meeting in lieu of the normal metropolitan meeting whilst our colleagues in harness do not run the Group 1 Truer Memorial at Bankstown in that club’s usual Monday afternoon timeslot, it takes centre stage as their Saturday night meeting. Likewise there is a clear place to showcase the very best of New South Wales greyhound racing in prime times for both off-course betting but also to give Clubs every opportunity to maximise on-course attendance and local promotion of the sport.
You would have read elsewhere that the select committee inquiry into the New South Wales greyhound racing industry has now reported. The first report makes several recommendations with respect to industry governance, integrity and animal welfare. These recommendations will now be considered by Government who is due to respond by the end of September. We are also giving these recommendations close consideration.
A second report detailing recommendations about the financial viability of the sport is due in the middle of the year. GRNSW will provide whatever support is necessary to the select committee and NSW Treasury as it undertakes financial modelling of the economic impact on state revenue and the greyhound industry of a number of scenarios aimed at ensuring a sustainable future for the sport.
We all accept that the future success of greyhound racing is closely linked to continued improvements in greyhound welfare and in the coming weeks we will make some exciting announcements about significant enhancements to GRNSW’s Greyhounds as Pets program to maximise the re-homing opportunities for retired greyhounds.
The public hearings of the Select Committee Inquiry into the NSW greyhound racing industry have now concluded with the Committee currently due to report at the end of March. Once the report is tabled in Parliament, the Government will have up to six months to respond to the report.
There were three dominant themes of the Inquiry: integrity oversight, animal welfare and ensuring a fair and appropriate funding model is in place.
The role of the Greyhound Racing Integrity Auditor has been subject to considerable discussion during the hearings. The underlying criticism of the office during the Inquiry process has essentially been two-fold: first that the Integrity Auditor lacks the legislative powers to appropriately fulfil the position as desired by industry stakeholders. Secondly, the fact that it is GRNSW that recommends an appointment to the position to the Minister and subsequently ‘pays the wage’ of the Integrity Auditor, creates a perception that the office is not in fact independent of GRNSW.
To address this situation, GRNSW has recommended that the Committee give close consideration to the adoption of the Victorian Integrity Commissioner model for the NSW racing industry as a whole and in particular that:
• The Commissioner conduct annual audits of the internal integrity processes and systems of each controlling body;
• Investigate complaints made about the integrity processes and systems of each controlling body;
• Conduct own motion inquiries that do not relate to any specific complaint and may include an investigation into systematic issues in racing;
• Facilitate the exchange of information between the controlling bodies, the NSW Police and other law enforcement agencies as appropriate;
• Be fully funded by the State Government and be totally independent of the controlling bodies recognising that such separation will best address both real and perceived conflicts of interest.
With respect to animal welfare, Greyhound Racing NSW and Greyhound Racing Victoria recently announced the adoption of a joint animal welfare strategy that will establish new standards of animal welfare excellence in the greyhound racing industry.
The joint animal welfare strategy seeks to drive improvements in all areas of greyhound welfare including breeding, racing, re-homing, as well as participant education.
The joint strategy will result in the introduction and development of various animal welfare initiatives, including:
• Higher levels of education for trainers and breeders including a requirement for all new participants to be assessed on core competencies before obtaining or upgrading a licence;
• Tighter controls on breeding regulation and the promotion of more responsible breeding practices;
• A requirement for all greyhounds to be under the care of a registered participant at all times during their lifecycle, unless retired as a pet;
• Improved inspection and compliance requirements on greyhound properties;
• A star rating system to be introduced for all greyhound facilities at which greyhounds are housed during their lifecycle;
• A tiered system of trainer licence types which will stipulate how many greyhounds a trainer can train;
• Ongoing enhancements to each of the state’s Greyhound Adoption Programs to maximise the re-homing opportunities for retired greyhounds; and
• New measures to maximise racing opportunities and ensure all greyhounds have the ability to reach their full potential.
There is a lot of work to be done to implement this strategy and over the coming months we will consult with industry participants about the development of various initiatives in the strategy which will be implemented over the next three years.
Finally, with fair and appropriate reform to the funding model of the sport, there is little doubt that greyhound racing in NSW is a viable industry. In my blog last month I spoke of figures that showed that for the first half of this current financial year, total betting sales on NSW greyhound races increased by 11.2% to reach $591 million. This, in a wagering market that is growing overall at closer to 2%.
Greyhound racing is a vibrant and attractive entertainment and wagering product for which there is a clear demand.
The opportunity exists now for the Select Committee to make recommendations that will ensure the sustainability of the sport and provide a platform that will allow the performance of our code to dictate the financial success of the industry. The industry bodies have put to the Committee that this can be achieved by way of both a temporary tax concession addressing the intent of Government to create a sustainable racing industry. The quantum of such a concession would address the subsidy that greyhound racing has provided the other two codes to date, and then move to a performance base for the industry better reflecting the commercial reality of the market going forward. Secondly, we have asked for the removal of the Race Fields Levy Cap that in the first half of this current financial year alone saw the greyhound racing industry forgo an additional $2.8m in revenue.
In the first six months of this financial year alone, the sport would have been $2.9m better off if the Government removed the Race Fields Levy Cap noting that a Cap does not exist in any other State of Australia.
Paws of Thunder
One of the talking points of the Sportingbet Paws of Thunder was the unprecedented three scratchings that occurred in the lead up to the race. As participants will know, in the last year NSW has fallen into line with the National Rules with reserve greyhounds not allocated a box until scratchings close at 9am on the day of the meeting. It is no longer the case that boxes are allocated in order of scratchings received and boxes are now determined by random ballot when there is more than one scratching.
Concern was expressed that this situation would have a deleterious effect on pre-post wagering. Analysis by our largest wagering partner Tabcorp discounted this concern revealing that fixed odds sales on the Paws of Thunder were up 48% on our last group one feature, the Vic Peters Classic. Further in both cases only 2% of total fixed odds sales occurred before the race day suggesting that the early scratchings had no impact on turnover.
January is an action-packed month on the track with feature races across the State.
From the Gosford Cup, attention shifts to the Group 1 Sportingbet Paws Of Thunder at Wentworth Park before rounding the month off with the start of the National Derby and Futurity series’ at Unibet Gardens and the Gold Plate on a renewed track at Bulli.
Best of luck to the New South Welshmen setting greyhounds for these races as there will undoubtedly be strong interstate interest in these races.
In August we announced that GRNSW would invest $1.3 million on greyhound welfare initiatives in this financial year. As I wrote in my September blog, part of this investment includes funding the establishment of a new Education and Support Unit to help drive welfare improvements in the greyhound industry.
Kayla Spliet, currently the GBOTA’s Operations Manager in the Hunter and Integrity Officer Brad Frost will commence new roles in this unit later this month.
The unit has been tasked with training new industry applicants, as well as up-skilling and monitoring existing participants’ adherence to welfare standards by undertaking regular kennel inspections of racing, rearing, breeding and greyhound education facilities in NSW.
The team will build upon the current pilot education program, Certificate II in Greyhound Racing, which was conducted in 2013 by GRNSW in partnership with Hunter TAFE and the NSW Department of Education and Communities.
Finally, can I thank all of you who took the time to attend a consultation forum during November and December to share your ideas, thoughts and suggestions about our sport.
There were many original ideas cultivated in these sessions covering not only racing and animal welfare matters, but also the strategic direction of the sport.
We are working through this feedback as we speak and you can expect to see developments in the coming weeks.
Happy New Year and may your year be full of winners.
Thank you to those of you that have attended one of those sessions in recent weeks to contribute your thoughts and ideas about the future of our sport.
There have been a number of new ideas canvassed in these sessions which have been discussed with a great level of maturity.
These will be considered over the coming weeks with a positive plan for the future of the sport to be released in the New Year.
The last two consultation meetings will be held in Dubbo and Wagga on Thursday 12 December and Friday 13 December respectively and I am looking forward to discussing issues important to participants in those areas on those two days.
If you have not been able to attend one of these consultation sessions but have thoughts and ideas which you would like to contribute, I would encourage you to send us an email or put pen to paper and send us a letter.
As many of you would know, Dapto Secretary/Manager Paul Mack recently left the club to take up a position in the registered clubs industry.
Paul made a substantial contribution to the ongoing success of the Dapto club in his time as Secretary/Manager together with making a broader contribution in recent times at the TAB Clubs Association level and as the TAB Clubs representative on GRICG.
I wish Paul continued success in the next stage of his career.
It was also great to see the appointment of Darren Hull to the role of Operations Manager at Bulli by the GBOTA.
Darren has been a central figure in greyhound racing at Wagga for many years and has been instrumental to the success that club has enjoyed culminating in their elevation to the TAB circuit.
A more passionate and dedicated person you will not find, and all of us at GRNSW look forward to working with Darren in his new role at Bulli.
As this year comes to an end, can I take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and many winners in 2014.
A series of industry consultation sessions are being held across the State over the next month for interested industry participants to contribute towards the future direction of the sport.
The sessions will be attended by GRNSW Board members and senior members of the GRNSW staff.
While conducting sessions in a number of regional locations, we have also set aside particular sessions for discrete segments of the sport (for example Breeders) so that adequate time can be dedicated to discussing matters of most importance to those stakeholder groups.
If you are interested in attending any of these sessions make sure you register your interest by following the instructions found here as we will keep each session to a reasonable number of people to ensure that everybody attending gets a proper opportunity to contribute their ideas and suggestions.
If you cannot attend any of the focus groups please do not hesitate to send your ideas through in an email or letter.
It was pleasing last month to have the GBOTA, the TAB Clubs and Country Clubs Associations come together with the Greyhound Action Group and GRNSW to make a joint industry submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into greyhound racing.
Our joint submission will focus on the terms of reference related to the economic viability of the sport, our financial performance and Government assistance.
It goes without saying that a united industry submission on these matters places the sport in a much better position to achieve a positive outcome. The submission will be finalised over the next week.
Finally, as I wrote in my open letter to you on October 17, to ensure that an accurate, fair and true reflection of the greyhound racing industry in NSW is provided to the Parliamentary Inquiry, it is essential that all participants provide a submission - no matter how long or short it might be.
It’s in our collective best interests to ensure that the views of all our industry participants are adequately represented.
Details on how to make a submission can be found by clicking here.
As you can see in the table below, GRNSW carried out 5,562 swabs during this period. This is a 47% increase on the amount of swabs carried out in 2011/12 and a record number for a 12 month period.
The increase in swabs carried out was made possible after GRNSW nearly doubled its swabbing budget for 2012/13, which followed a marked increase in positive swabs for that 12-month period.
While the figures for 2012/13 are encouraging, GRNSW will continue to remain vigilant when it comes to drug detection.
This means maintaining the swabbing budget at its current level as well as ramping up surveillance in other areas, including an increase to the amount of out of competition testing we conduct.
By remaining at the forefront of drug detection, GRNSW will ensure its integrity services are at the forefront of the wagering industry - not just in Australia, but across the world.
These damaging headlines followed Dr Kaye issuing a press release containing scurrilous and baseless claims about the integrity of the sport and those who participate in it together with the standards of animal welfare in the sport (see www.johnkaye.org.au ).
Dr Kaye’s views about the racing industry were further expanded on in Parliament on Wednesday (28/8/13) during Legislative Council debate on a bill to extend the exclusivity of the TAB’s licence (you can read Dr. Kaye’s speech in the Hansard for the Legislative Council from that date on www.parliament.nsw.gov.au).
As you would know, since taking control of the regulatory affairs of the sport in 2009 GRNSW has significantly ramped up its drug detection strategies. Last year alone, we doubled our drug detection budget to around $1.2m and now conduct an unprecedented level of screening in greyhound racing. Our ongoing commitment to this is resolute, we will continue to further develop our strategies in this area as it is absolutely essential for consumer confidence in our racing, and to ensure a level playing field between participants.
On ABC702 radio Dr. Kaye went so far as to suggest the involvement of organised crime in greyhound racing. The NSW Police has established the Casino and Racing Investigation Unit to specifically investigate alleged organised crime links in all three codes of racing. The Police have advised GRNSW on more than one occasion that they are not looking at any matter that pertains to greyhound racing in this state.
GRNSW issued a media release on Tuesday which set out many of the positive animal welfare reforms that we have introduced since 2009 together with announcing further enhancements, including the establishment of a new Education and Support unit. If you have not read this release as yet, you can do so by clicking here.
So how did this come to being and what will happen going forward.
Why is there an inquiry?
As most in the industry are aware, the body Greyhound Action Group has been agitating for a parliamentary inquiry for some time. Whilst this group started with a narrow focus on achieving TAB funding model reform, a motive supported by all in the sport, clearly the group’s motives have taken on a broader agenda. Ultimately the lobbying of the Greyhound Action Group resulted in the Fishers and Shooters Party and Labor supporting the inquiry proposed by Greens MP Dr. John Kaye.
What is the inquiry looking at?
The terms of reference for this inquiry moved by the Greens are as follows:
a) The economic viability of the greyhound racing industry in New South Wales;
b) The financial performance and conduct of the industry and of Greyhound Racing NSW including a comparison to other states of Australia;
c) Government initiatives and assistance measures to support the industry and comparison of assistance to other racing codes;
d) The effectiveness of current industry regulation, including the level of autonomy of Greyhound Racing NSW;
e) The selection process for the board of Greyhound Racing NSW;
f) The effectiveness and accountability of the board and management of Greyhound Racing NSW;
g) The effectiveness of the current arrangements for, and role of, the Integrity Auditor of Greyhound Racing NSW;
h) The capability and performance of Greyhound Racing NSW and governance of the industry;
i) The incidence of drug administration and doping in the industry and the efficacy of Greyhound Racing NSW’s control and testing processes;
j) Sale and breeding of greyhounds including the market conditions and welfare of animals;
k) The welfare of animals in the industry and the role of Greyhound Racing NSW in establishing and enforcing standards of treatment for animals;
l) Financial incentives for reducing euthanasia and prosecutions for animal mistreatment;
m) The adequacy and integrity of data collection in the industry, including the number of pups born, the number of dogs euthanized and injury rates; and
n) Any other related matter.
Will GRNSW be involved in the inquiry process?
Yes, GRNSW will make a formal submission to the inquiry and participate in any way possible. GRNSW believes that the main focus of the inquiry should be on the TAB funding model so as to ensure the ongoing economic viability of the sport and to ensure adequate funds are available to continue to improve participant returns, enhance infrastructure and continue to invest in new animal welfare initiatives.
Who can make submissions to the inquiry?
Any member of the industry or the broader community can make a submission, you can find more information about this on the website www.parliament.nsw.gov.au under legislative council committees.
What happens after the inquiry?
The Committee produces a report and recommendations which are tabled in parliament. It is not unusual for there to be a majority report and a minority report. Thereafter it is a matter for Government as to how they respond to the recommendations.
It is difficult to predict what might occur as a result of this inquiry particularly with respect to matters relating to regulation, and specifically in the area of animal welfare.
However, what is clear at the outset is that the Government does not believe that it is appropriate for it to intervene in the Inter-Code Agreement.
This is also the position of Labor who had the opportunity to positively amend the Inter-Code Agreement when it was in Government and who have confirmed since being in Opposition that their position remains unchanged. This is further evidenced by the specific removal of references to the Inter-Code Agreement in the terms of reference for the parliamentary inquiry in order for Dr. Kaye to secure Labor’s support of this inquiry.
That should not deter anybody in the industry from making the TAB funding reform central to their submissions to this inquiry, it should be. Market share of TAB funding would deliver another $15m a year to the sport in NSW and would not only secure the economic viability of the sport, but allow for even greater investments and improvements in infrastructure and animal welfare initiatives.
You will have read elsewhere in the E-Chaser that after a lengthy process which commenced in February this year, the Board of GRNSW has determined to cancel the registration of the NSW National Coursing Association with effect from last Sunday.
So what does this mean for you as a participant?
Racing and trialling at the venue will continue as scheduled and uninterrupted.
The current race program, including feature races, will be conducted at the prizemoney levels advertised.
Hence for participants it is business as usual.
The GBOTA has agreed to undertake the racing functions at the venue in a caretaker role ensuring the continuity of racing at the venue, which obviously plays an important role for many participants given the 120 TAB meetings held at the venue each year.
As you would appreciate, the GBOTA operates the closest TAB tracks in the area, meaning from a practical perspective it was the most viable option in the short-term to ensure there was continuity of racing at the venue.
GRNSW is committed to having a long term operator in place by 1 January 2014 that will ensure a sustainable future for The Gardens and one that can continue the growth of the sport of greyhound racing in the Hunter region.
By now you would have read about the $1.7 million increase in returns paid for TAB and metropolitan race meetings in the new financial year which commences today.
There are three components to the increase:
i. Previously unplaced prizemoney was deducted from the placegetters prizemoney meaning that if you run at a 5th grade at Bulli you would be paid $40 unplaced at kennelling time and the remaining $1,040 after the race. From today, all trainers will be paid a travel subsidy per greyhound at kennelling and this will not be deducted from the placegetters prizemoney meaning the Bulli 5th Grade winner will receive $1,080 for winning the race plus the travel subsidy of $40;
ii. The travel subsidy at TAB C meetings will increase to $40 per starter, previously $20 unplaced prizemoney was paid at TAB C meetings;
iii. There are an additional 52 TAB C meetings in the new financial year at Wentworth Park and Richmond which replace previous non-TAB race meetings in the region. The addition of these meetings will see another $300,000 paid over and above what would have been returned to owners and trainers should these meetings have stayed non-TAB meetings.
GRNSW is pleased to be able to deliver such an increase in what are tough economic times for the racing industry in general with the ever changing wagering landscape and immense pressure on our traditional funding base. To put this increase in context, our counterparts in harness racing have just announced a $1 million increase to their stakes levels in the new financial year.
LATER this week, Nadine Wigley leaves GRNSW to enjoy the next phase of her life with husband John.
As many of you would be aware, Nadine and John founded deFax Sporting Publications and for the next 31 years, Nadine has been at the helm of NSW greyhound race form continuing through ownership changes which saw the business first sold to the NSW GBOTA and later to GRNSW itself.
What Nadine and John started cannot be underestimated, deFax was the first computer-based form database of any code in the country. Previous to this, all form was kept manually on hand-written cards.
To carve out a business and generate a return to the industry in an area where most other bodies run the activity at a loss is testament to the dedication, enthusiasm and uncompromising business ethics Nadine has bought to the industry.
A number of important changes will occur over the next month brought about by the commencement of OzChase – the new IT system driving the racing functions in the majority of states throughout Australia.
Those changes which require your attention are outlined in this edition of the E-Chaser and I encourage you to read through the information provided carefully.
From the 17 June all non-TAB meetings will be graded by GRNSW. This means that you will no longer need to send your nominations to non-TAB clubs, instead you will need to nominate with GRNSW. You can do this by way of fax or through the website, as you would for TAB C Meetings. New nomination forms that are applicable to non-TAB racing from the 17 of June can be printed from the website, or ask at your local club. You will no longer need to complete your greyhound’s form history when nominating.
If you nominate online already for TAB meetings, you should be aware that the system will change from the 17 June. Full details of the new online interface will be available on our website and if you have any questions about this information, you should contact us by email or phone with your question.
Meetings that would ordinarily have nominations closing on the 17 June, will actually be graded in the week prior to accommodate the switch across to the new system. Please make sure you look at the nominations schedule for June in advance.
Finally from the 1 July prizemoney at all TAB meetings will be paid by GRNSW via weekly bank deposits. The first payments will be made on Wednesday 17 July and will occur weekly on Wednesdays thereafter. Many participants are yet to update their personal details with GRNSW including their banking details. It is critical for you to do this in order to receive your prizemoney for TAB races conducted from the 1 July.
From the 1 July unplaced prizemoney will be replaced by a Travel Allowance paid directly to trainers at the track. This will be paid for every greyhound engaged at the meeting in the same way in which unplaced prizemoney is now paid. The change allows us to pay this directly to trainers given that unless owners and trainers have alternative arrangements in place, prizemoney is an entitlement of the owner.
Outside of the E-Chaser will you will see a section of our website dedicated to the changes occurring with the introduction of OzChase where you can find relevant information. If having read that information you are unclear of how any of these changes will impact you or of what is required of you, please do not hesitate to contact our member services team.
Cystic Fibrosis is the most common life threatening, recessive genetic condition affecting Australian children. At present there is no cure, but organisations such as Cystic Fibrosis Australia (the national body) are dedicated to funding further research into the condition, while Cystic Fibrosis NSW helps provide services and support to people in NSW who live with Cystic Fibrosis.
As you will have read elsewhere in the E-Chaser, a 65 roses race meeting will be held at each track throughout the month with every red rug winner at those meetings adding $250 to the amount raised.
Last year, with the support of the club network, the campaign raised over $40,000 and was the single biggest donation to the organisation’s fundraising campaign.
Similarly to last year, GRNSW has again partnered with the WIN and NBN television networks who will promote the 65 red rose race meetings throughout regional NSW. The campaign last year generated significant media interest raising awareness for both greyhound racing and Cystic Fibrosis and undoubtedly the 2013 version will build on this.
You can keep up-to-date throughout the month of May by checking out http://www.everydayhero.com.au/event/65reddogs13 or follow@65RedDogs on twitter.
Saturday night saw the culmination of the 2013 Group 1 Macro Meats Golden Easter Egg carnival, and what a stellar night of greyhound racing it was.
The carnival is almost unrecognisable now from where it was five years ago; with this year's final night awash with quality Group racing across the board, catering for the best sprinters, stayers and upcoming stars of the sport.
I want to particularly recognise the work of GBOTA Executive Officer Brenton Scott and Operations Manager Ellen Dwyer, who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to build the event to the point where it is now, and they did a great job in showcasing our sport on Easter Saturday.
GRNSW is proud to be an event partner of the Golden Easter Egg and again thank and acknowledge the support of sponsor Ray Borda and Macro Meats.
On the track, the victory of Grigorieva Bale in the Golden Easter Egg was the maiden victory in the Group 1 for the Dailly kennel, whose trophy cabinet was otherwise full with victories in most of the major greyhound races around the country.
It capped off a great night for 'Team Dailly', having also taken out the Golden Easter Egg consolation, The Ambrosoli, with Spud Regis.
My congratulations to the Daillys on the success, and to 'Team Wheeler', who continue to consistently produce greyhounds of the highest standard and are great ambassadors for our industry.
Last night, the NSW greyhound racing industry came together for the 2012 Betfair NSW Greyhound of the Year awards, which were held for the first time at the historic Sydney Town Hall.
As has been reported in this month’s E-Chaser, Oaks Road was named the Betfair NSW Greyhound of the Year defeating Bye Bye Bucks and He Knows Uno in what the judge’s panel described as an extremely close contest.
The jubilant scenes shown by Oaks Road’s owner Eddie Kingswell, trainer Mark Gatt and all the other connections upon the announcement of the winner shows just how important the award has become to NSW participants.
Apart from Oaks Road win, another highlight of the night was the awarding of the Allen Wheeler Medal to the late Tony Finlay.
The Allen Wheeler Medal recognises an individual who has a long record of performing with distinction and dedication within the NSW greyhound racing industry and that is why Tony was such a deserving recipient.
Tony served as the Secretary of the Coonamble Greyhound Racing Club for the past three decades up until his passing last year.
It was Tony’s sheer hard work and dedication that helped make the Coonamble club such a success, as he teamed with his brother-in-law and former long time Club President Roley Green to establish the iconic Coonamble Carnival.
Tony joins Jack Bell, Perce Fletcher, Harry Pledger and Don Waldron as the recipients of the Allen Wheeler Medal.
Of course, the NSW Greyhound of the Year awards would not have be possible without the continued support of its sponsors, particularly naming rights partner Betfair.
This year was the fourth year Betfair has been the major sponsor of the NSW Greyhound of the Year awards and I would like to thank the organisation for its continued support and look forward to our partnership continuing in the years ahead.
• 18% on GRNSW administration
• 50% on prizemoney
• 19% on club administration
• 13% on industry infrastructure
In addition, a small number of participants have publicly claimed that prizemoney levels in NSW have been stagnant for many years.
Once again this is not the case.
The total prizemoney paid has increased by almost 50% over a five year period, from $15.2 million in FY2008 to more than $22.4 million in FY2012.
For FY2013, the Board of GRNSW approved a further 3% increase to prizemoney levels, ensuring that minimum prizemoney levels went up by $626,476.
While GRNSW welcomes debate about the state of greyhound racing in NSW and its future direction, the organisation will not allow false rumours and scaremongering to go unchallenged.
Revenue received under the RDA is commonly referred to as TAB Distributions.
The distribution of TAB funds between codes is governed by the 99 year Inter-Code Agreement. Under this agreement, TAB funding is essentially distributed between codes on fixed percentages with 13% being received by the greyhound industry. This arrangement was put into place in 1998 as part of the privatisation of the TAB and is also in force for 99 years.
In the financial year ending 2011, 84% of industry revenue was earned under the RDA arrangements.
In terms of revenue from RFIU, GRNSW charges fees on all Australian wagering operators fielding on NSW greyhound races based on 15% of gross margin. Gross margin can be simply understood as a wagering operator’s sales on a particular race less punter winnings on that same race.
RFIU revenue represented 15% of industry revenue in 2011 and is forecast to represent between 17% and 28% of industry revenue by 2016.
Of course one of the major issues involing funding arrangements through the RDA is the need to reform the Inter-Code funding arrangement, which I discussed at length in my previous blog post.
However there are a number of other issues that are impacting on this revenue. This includes:
- Competition: corporate bookmaker migration will continue to increase given the continual consumer shift to e-commerce. This is accentuated by increased involvement of global players such as Paddy Power, William Hill and Bet365 given the product breadth and best-of-breed technology platforms the foreign entities bring to the Australian market;
- Mobile threat: proliferation of mobile technology to result in increased competition in the core TAB business of pub and club wagering, as it continues to become easier to wager offsite;
- Cash payments in decline: migration away from cash to non-cash transactions erodes value of cash exclusivity and hence TAB turnover;
- Retail exclusivity: retail exclusivity of TAB under threat by internet betting kiosks in pub/club market (Betbox Sportsbet court case);
- Sports migration: migration away from racing to sports erodes RDA revenues as no product fees are payable on sports betting, RDA provides only for 25% of the profits; and
- Fixed odds migration: TAB introduction of fixed odds race betting to counter competition and product offering of corporate bookmakers is resulting in migration away from pari-mutuel turnover to fixed odds turnover which operates on a smaller profit margin.
Meanwhile, in terms of funding derived from the RFIU, the maximum fee that GRNSW can charge wagering operators is capped at 1.5% by Regulation.
GRNSW estimates that the existence of the cap in the Regulation will see the NSW greyhound industry forego $5.4 million in revenue in 2012/13, from which GRNSW would expected to net at least $3.6 million.
GRNSW is presently lobbying the Government to remove the cap completely, or if that is not accepted, to provide for a cap on a gross margin basis of 20% for application in circumstances where a racing controlling body determines to levy race field fees on a gross margin basis.
There are no fee caps in place within the race fields legislative regimes in operation in any other jurisdiction in Australia. The fee cap is unique to the NSW regime and places the NSW racing industry at a disadvantage by unnecessarily restricting its flexibility to determine a fee condition that it determines most appropriate for the code of racing that it is responsible for.
What is GRNSW doing?
GRNSW is embarking on a number of initiatives that will hopefully lead to funding reform.
- Taxation reform: GRNSW is working with its counterparts at Racing NSW and Harness Racing NSW on a taxation reform proposal to the NSW Government aimed at addressing the taxation disparity between NSW and the other States.
In Victoria, the tax paid on pari-mutuel betting is 7.6% of gross revenue, whilst the tax paid on fixed odds wagering is 4.38% of grow revenue. This compares to the NSW rates of 19.11% and 10.91% respectively. The Victorian racing industry will receive $100m more than the NSW racing industry in TAB distributions due to the difference in State taxes.
If the taxation reform proposal is successful, this is expected to deliver additional TAB distributions to NSW racing industry of between $50 and $80 million, netting GRNSW an additional $6.5 to $10.4 million per annum if the current Inter-Code arrangements applied;
- Race fields cap: As noted earlier GRNSW is lobbying the Minister to amend the race fields Regulation so as to receive the full benefit of its race fields fees approach. The cap is in the Regulation meaning that it can be changed by order of the Minister and does not require legislative change in Parliament. GRNSW would expected to net an additional $3.6 million this financial year if the cap was removed;
- Focusing marketing and growth activities at markets where RFIU fees makes it attractive to do so: GRNSW is focusing its marketing activities in wagering markets where the RFIU fees received make growth attractive;
- Inter-Code Growth monies review: A review of Inter-Code growth monies is currently underway; and
- Board Review: The current GRNSW Board is undertaking a review of the industry direction and will be releasing a discussion paper on the review in late January.
The strike action being taken by some participants since the start of December has created a lot of discussion both within the industry and in some regional media outlets.
Unfortunately many of the claims made in these discussions are not only misinformed, but completely untrue. As a result I feel it necessary to set the record straight on some of the more common misconceptions that are currently being spread by answering questions that have been posed to me directly by participants over the last week.
Was GRNSW one of the signatories of the Inter-Code funding agreement?
The Inter-Code was agreed in 1997. GRNSW itself was not formed until 2003 and certainly none of the current Board or management of GRNSW had a role in the agreement back in 1997.
It is an agreement entered into by the three controlling bodies of the time, which in 1997 was the Greyhound Racing Authority (GRA). Representatives of the GRA signed the agreement having consulted with representatives of the TAB Clubs throughout this period and, from what we understand, having taken independent advice.
Why will GRNSW not release the Inter-Code agreement if there is nothing to hide?
The 1997 agreement includes confidentiality clauses and does not allow GRNSW to release the document without the consent of all other parties to the agreement. Such clauses are not unusual in agreements of this kind.
Why is a legal challenge not an appropriate course of action to reform the Inter-Code arrangement and why are you leaving a legal challenge to the participant group to fund and mount?
GRNSW has over an extended period of time taken significant legal advice about this arrangement. Clearly if there was a basis for legal action with any real prospect of success which would result in our sport obtaining an improved position that action would have been taken. Simply because an agreement was entered into for 99 years and the financial realities of that agreement are not favourable to greyhound racing do not of themselves give rise to a legal cause of action.
In August this year I met with a small delegation of participants that included Tony Gannon and Bob Whitelaw. In that meeting I provided the group with an overview of the funding arrangements in place, the issues surrounding that funding and the actions being taken by GRNSW. Click here for a copy of that overview.
We spoke about the prospects of a trainers strike, as I had previously on several occasions with Tony Gannon. For the same reasons I have repeatedly stated in recent weeks, I encouraged them not to go down this path.
Notwithstanding this, the group believed it was appropriate for a further legal review to occur with Hamish Cockburn of MT Partners being recommended by this group. As such, GRNSW engaged MT Partners to provide advice. GRNSW had no pre-existing relationship with this firm having never engaged it to undertake any legal work in the past. All costs related to this advice are being met by GRNSW. Advice was sought as to the following:
a) Whether there are any prospects of applying to a Court to set the agreement aside;
b) Whether there is provision within the terms of the agreement to renegotiate or review the funding distribution; and
c) Whether there are any non-legal avenues of relief for GRNSW to explore.
The instructions issued by GRNSW to the lawyers were agreed to by the participant group represented by Tony Gannon. Further, GRNSW agreed to make irrevocable instructions to MT Partners to disclose to Tony Gannon advice provided to GRNSW in relation to the Inter-Code Agreement whilst at the same time ensuring that the confidentiality obligations of GRNSW with respect to the Agreement were met.
In October, MT Partners provided verbal advice to both GRNSW and Tony Gannon that the prospects of any viable legal course of action looked unlikely. At the time of writing this, final written advice has not been received.
I further offered in October to attempt to assist Tony Gannon to get an audience with the Minister for Gaming and Racing. Tony Gannon made it clear that he only wanted to meet with the Minister if he was going to put an offer on the table to address the Inter-Code Agreement. This was not going to occur.
Why does GRNSW not support the NSW Labor Opposition’s call for a parliamentary inquiry into the Inter-Code funding arrangement?
GRNSW agrees that the Inter-Code needs to be updated, and is acutely aware of its deficiencies. However it should be remembered that it was the previous Labor Government that commissioned the Cameron Review (2008) which recommended an update and that the Government should intervene to ensure that this happened. At that time these recommendations were not accepted by Labor. The proposed parliamentary inquiry would simply duplicate the previous inquiry with the same outcome, to the frustration of all in the greyhound industry.
In supporting the inquiry, Labor has not suggested at all that it would support nor introduce legislation to over-ride the Inter-Code agreement.
Why is GRNSW so intent on putting on race meetings during the no show period?
As I have said previously, GRNSW believes this quasi strike will only hurt participants’ income.
Due to this we are committed to allowing those participants who want to race and earn prizemoney during the strike, the chance to do so. We firmly believe that just as people have the right to choose not to participate, they also have the right to participate and that this right should be respected and protected.
In addition, GRNSW has a legal obligation to conduct race meetings and we will do everything we can to discharge that obligation so as not to expose the sport to legal action for failure to meet its supply obligations – our frustration with the Inter-Code Agreement is not a legal defence to such a claim.
Is it true GRNSW has offered payments to participants to get them to nominate during the no show period?
No. GRNSW would never offer participants money to nominate their greyhounds, even in exceptional circumstances such as this one. Anyone who says anything to the contrary is simply lying.
Is it true that participants who have chosen to nominate during the no show period have had threats made against them?
Worryingly, GRNSW has been made aware of some telephone threats made to participants who have chosen to race during this period together with other incidents that have allegedly occurred over the last week. Each of these threats is being taken very seriously and is currently being investigated by GRNSW. Where appropriate, matters have been referred to the Police.
I want to stress that any participant who is found making threats to other participants or engaging in other such behaviour is not wanted in our sport. Those found making threats to other licensed participants would be not only violating the rules of greyhound racing, but also committing a criminal offence. This means they would face a lengthy disqualification from the sport as well as possible criminal charges.
Cooperation is essential in these matters, so I would urge anyone who has been threatened or knows of anyone who has been subject to threats to come forward and contact GRNSW so action can be taken immediately.
Finally, GRNSW is doing everything to ensure the safety of its participants by working closely with the clubs, NSW Police and boosting security at all TAB tracks during this no show period. Those of you who have attended race meetings since last week will have noticed these measures.
What is GRNSW doing to change the Inter-Code funding arrangement?
For some time, GRNSW has been lobbying for both major political parties to implement the recommendations of the Cameron Report, which would place each code of racing in NSW into a commercial environment where its success would be determined by its own performance. GRNSW has lobbied government direct and also worked with professional political advisors throughout this period.
Many of you would recall the very public ‘Our Fair Share’ campaign that GRNSW engaged in following the release of the Cameron Report in 2008. This was an independent assessment of the NSW racing industry commissioned by the former Labor Government who abandoned its recommendations about Inter-Code reform.
There is little secret that the relationship of GRNSW and the former Minister significantly deteriorated as a result of the very public and persistent campaign conducted by GRNSW. Indeed GRNSW was encouraged on more than one occasion by some industry bodies to tone down the nature of the campaign.
The matter continues to be pressed with the current Government even though it did not commission the Cameron Report. Minister for Gaming and Racing George Souris has been consistent in his view that he sees this as a private matter between the three codes. That we do not agree with this view has been clear to and is understood by the Minister.
Notwithstanding this, the Minister has repeatedly put to industry stakeholders that the current Inter-Code Growth monies review as provided for within the terms of the Agreement should be the immediate focus of the sport on this matter.
The article in this month’s E-Chaser provides an overview of the penalty categories and the types of prohibited substances that fall within each category.
These changes come from a broad review of our approach to drug detection that has already seen the budget for race day swabbing doubled, the number of swabs taken per meeting significantly increased, and a concerted effort by our Greyhound Welfare and Veterinary Services Unit to provide instructive information to participants through regular seminars at race meetings across the state.
As part of these changes we have also adopted a new framework for dealing with prohibited substance matters.
The new framework draws on aspects of the judicial systems utilised in the sports of AFL and NRL as well as concepts utilised in other racing codes in Australia.
For instance Harness Racing NSW introduced penalty guidelines earlier this year, which can be viewed here.
The framework GRNSW has adopted incorporates the concept of an early guilty plea in combination with a schedule of penalties that are attached to defined categories of prohibited substances. This concept is also used in both the NRL and AFL judicial systems.
All positive swab cases considered as serious in nature will continue to be referred directly to a Stewards Inquiry, in particular, any cases involving a Category 1 or 2 prohibited substance, high levels of a particular prohibited substance and persons that have a poor record for previous blemishes under the prohibited substances rules.
Regular visitors to thedogs.com.au would have noticed in recent weeks the inclusion of a full form service for South Australian meetings and form for Tasmanian races as well.
Making it easier for punters to access information about all greyhound meetings across the country from one site is in everybody’s interest.
Over time we are hopeful of further expanding the form service on thedogs.com.au to include other states and will launch a mobile version of the website towards the end of the year.
On the track, the return of the Sportingbet Super Stayers Series will again provide an incentive to trainers and owners to race their stayers in NSW through improved prizemoney and conditions.
The series gets under way at Bathurst on 10 September and will culminate with the final heat set for 17 November.
Like last year's series - which was won by the Keith Pedrana trained Slick Lee - greyhounds will accumulate points when they participate in heats. The series will also see the return of Sullo's Sling Bonus Heats, which doubles the allocated points for all placings.
At the completion of the Sportingbet Super Stayers Series the greyhound that has accumulated the highest number of points will receive a $10,000 bonus.
In addition, the eight highest pointscorers in the series will qualify for the Sportingbet Super Stayers Final at Wentworth Park over 720m on 24 November where they will battle it out for $22,500 in prizemoney.
We appreciate Sportingbet Australia's continued support of this concept and greyhound racing in NSW.
Referring to the joint funding of the kennelling facilities, Goulburn Mulwaree Council Mayor Geoff Kettle remarked that the developments that have occurred at Goulburn are a fine example of what can be achieved when industry, government and the community work together. The Council see tremendous benefit in weekly TAB racing occurring at Goulburn with the subsequent exposure around the country via SKY Channel and all of the distribution channels that take our racing information.
Goulburn Mulwaree Council are also set to fund the lion share of a $5.7m development on the site which will provide a viewing facility for both the greyhound and harness racing tracks together with a multi-purpose facility for other sports in the community. Both GRNSW and our counterparts at HRNSW have committed $300,000 towards this development. Once complete, Goulburn will be the equal to any regional TAB track in the country.
The support and enthusiasm of the Council for greyhound racing is second to none, testament to that was the attendance of five Councillors and the General Manager of the Council at yesterday’s meeting.
Introducing TAB C racing at Goulburn is the continuation of the product expansion strategy that started in 2010 with the commencement of TAB racing at Grafton, Dubbo and Wagga. The strategy aims to increase the supply of race meetings wherever possible to maximise wagering sales, increase exposure of our sport, and deliver improved prizemoney and racing opportunities for participants.
Importantly, the prizemoney that is paid at these meetings over and above what would have been paid if the meetings remained non-TAB, is fully funded from the wagering revenue earned by GRNSW on the meetings under the race fields legislation. Leaving our fixed share arrangements with the NSW TAB to one-side, every wagering operator in the country pays race fields fees based on the revenue they generate on our meetings.
Race fields legislation revenue is a growing component of our overall revenue, it will represent close to 20% of our total income this year. TAB C racing is part of our strategy to continue to build on this income line which remains a core focus whilst our ability to grow returns from the NSW TAB is fixed under the terms of the Inter-Code arrangement.
Participants will notice a significant increase in the number of samples being taken at TAB meetings in the weeks to come and this will continue throughout the year.
Our response however is not just simply to increase the rate of sampling with the following also underway:
• A review of drug detection activities in other greyhound racing jurisdictions and racing codes, including an analysis of the percentage of starters / races swabbed and positives to runners / swabs ratios to establish swabbing benchmarks;
• A review of all positive swabs for the last year from a veterinary perspective, with substances broken up into sub-groups by type, effect and likely cause of positive result;
• A review of penalties imposed by GRNSW, benchmarked against other greyhound racing jurisdictions and racing codes;
• A review of best practice approaches to drug detection, including the policies and processes utilised in other sporting codes. With a focus on identifying alternative means of hearing positive swab cases, particularly around therapeutic substances; and
• The development of education resources to better assist participants to improve their knowledge on a range of matters relating to greyhound performance and health.
A comparison of our swabbing results for the current financial year to last make for disappointing reading.
When comparing year to date data at 31 March 2012 against the same nine month period in 2010/11 the following salient points appear:
• The number of swabs taken has increased by 35% (from 2,054 to 2,764) reflecting the deliberate approach of GRNSW to increase the amount of swabbing occurring under our present policy;
• The number of positive swabs has escalated by 82% (from 22 to 40), an extremely disappointing outcome but a testament to our current approach to drug detection; and
• 62.5% of the positive swabs are to prohibited substances of a therapeutic nature, up from 54.5% of all positive swabs in the corresponding period.
Those who participate in a race, whether as owners, trainers or the like, are entitled to expect that all other dogs will run on an equal basis. The public is entitled to expect that when they wager their money everyone will be competing on an equal basis.
We will continue to ramp up our drug detection expenditure over the next 12 months as well as investing time and money in improving training and education opportunities for participants. The latter is important as in many cases, positive swabs are the result of trainers not either being aware that the treatments they are using include a prohibited substance or they are using those treatments too close to race day.
On a different note, later this month two of our most senior staff will leave GRNSW. Our Racing Manager Greg Hore is relocating to New Zealand with his family. Greg joined GRNSW when we merged with the GHRRA regulatory unit in 2009 after filling a variety of roles throughout the industry. It would be a hard task to find a more dedicated and giving employee in any field of endeavour and Greg’s immense passion, knowledge and commitment to the sport will be missed by all.
Katrina McHattan, who heads up our Member and Club Services functions is also relocating with her partner out of Sydney. Katrina is well known to all club administrators and has been their first point of contact on all club related matters for some time working with clubs on their finances, operating standards and capital projects. In that time she has built up a great rapport and respect from those clubs and is a great loss to GRNSW.
Both Greg and Katrina leave late in June. I thank them sincerely for their efforts with GRNSW, wish them every success in the future and I’m sure those of you that have contact with either of them will do the same over coming weeks.
Every time a greyhound wearing the red rug (number one) wins a race at a designated 65 Roses Race Meeting, Greyhound Racing NSW will donate $250 to Cystic Fibrosis.
Cystic Fibrosis is the most common life threatening recessive genetic condition with nearly one in every 2,500 babies born with Cystic Fibrosis.
The condition seriously affects breathing and digestion and people living with Cystic Fibrosis may need up to two hours intensive chest physiotherapy daily so that they can breath and up to 40 enzyme tablets a day to help their digestion just to survive.
And whilst the life expectancy has improved over the last 30 years from 17 to 37 years of age, many suffers do not survive into adulthood.
The work that Cystic Fibrosis Australia undertakes is absolutely critical in improving the treatment and awareness of the condition, to extend life expectancy, quality of life and ultimately, find a cure.
Across Australia less than 30% of the required funds are provided by government, many of the programs and research initiatives being undertaken by Cystic Fibrosis Australia can only happen through community financial support.
You can assist by participating in the upcoming 65 Red Roses Race Day at your local track in May. At these meetings the local race clubs will be conducting various fundraising activitiesa and every time the red box wins a race at that meeting, GRNSW will donate $250 towards the 65 Red Roses Day appeal.
If you cannot get to a race meeting in May but would like to assist, please visit www.65rosesday.org.au where you will find plenty of information about Cystic Fibrosis and how you can assist this worthy organisation.
You can also keep up-to-date with how the Red Dogs are tracking throughout the month at www.65reddogs.org.au
Last Friday the full bench of the High Court unanimously dismissed both the Sportsbet and Betfair appeals in the race fields litigation they had instigated against both Racing NSW and Harness Racing NSW.
The decisions are important in that they provide absolute clarity that the race fields legislation is constitutionally valid and confirms the right of each racing controlling body to impose a fee on either a turnover or gross revenue model for betting on our respective races.
You will have read over the weekend about the war chests that the other two codes now have at their disposals following their success in the High Court. The amounts represent the fees that they have been collecting for the last three and half years but have been unable to spend because of the court case. In effect it has worked like a savings plan for the other codes.
From our perspective however, we have been collecting fees from all wagering operators and spending that money for the last three and half years. It is the money that we have collected from race fields legislation that has allowed us to pay an additional $19 million in prizemoney throughout that period over and above what we could have afforded to pay without using the race fields money.
Our approach to race fields to date has also allowed us to focus on growing greyhound racing in this state. In that period we have grown the number of TAB meetings being conducted with an additional 208 TAB meetings now part of our schedule. TAB racing at Wagga, Grafton and Dubbo would still be an aspiration today had we followed the path of the other two codes from a race fields perspective. When this financial year draws to a close over $1 billion will have been wagered on NSW greyhounds, setting a new benchmark for our sport.
I have been asked on several occasions over the weekend would we have received a higher return if we charged wagering operators on the basis of 1.5% of turnover as opposed to 10% of their gross margin, effectively their winnings on a particular race.
The simple answer to that is no. In the three and half years that race fields has been in place $2.9 billion has been bet on NSW greyhound races with all wagering operators combined producing a gross margin of $446m. The maths is simple, 1.5% of $2.9bn is $1 million less than 10% of $446m.
The current NSW race fields legislation is complicated by the existence of a cap on fees which does not presently allow us to charge an individual wagering operator more than 1.5% of their turnover on our races.
The current arrangements we have in place with all wagering operators under the race fields legislation are in place until 30 June 2012. In line with our established practice we will review all of the conditions, including those related to fees, prior to issuing approvals for the new financial year. Our approach will be simple, making sure the maths remains in favour of greyhound racing in NSW.
Animal welfare will again be a hot topic of conversation this week with further footage of inhumane treatment of animals in Indonesian abattoirs airing on the ABC television programme Lateline. This first became a significant public issue in 2011 when an ABC Four Corners expose into Australia’s live cattle export trade showed serious cases of animal abuse in slaughterhouses in Indonesia.
The 2011 story prompted a widespread and emotional reaction from the Australian public, which resulted in significant pressure on the Federal Government to take action to stop cruel treatment of Australian animals overseas.
Community attitudes and expectations continue to change and what was seen as acceptable practice 20 years ago today is not accepted. The live exports debate in Australia has had a significant impact in a number of ways, it has pushed animal welfare issues away from the extremes and into the mainstream and it has showed how governments can be forced to act when a community is outraged by an emotive issue.
Our sport can be proud of the advancements we have made on the animal welfare front in recent times ensuring that our practices meet modern community expectations. Included amongst the developments over the last 12 months are:
• Continued role with Corrective Services NSW with our Greyhounds as Pets Programme and development of ongoing plans to enhance the outcomes for both dogs and inmates;
• The launch of Greenhounds with the NSW Department of Local Government as a brand to facilitate and promote muzzle free greyhounds post racing as pets;
• The first Code of Practice for Greyhounds in Training, ensuring minimum standards for all greyhounds in NSW which is now the basis for all kennel inspections conducted by GRNSW.
• The establishment of our Greyhound Welfare and Veterinary Services Unit dedicated to the welfare of greyhounds in NSW;
• A strong focus on education and training including the commencement of formal training for persons associated with the industry;
• Commenced the development of protocols to educate and regulate the breeding and rearing sector;
• Continued to build our working relationship with the NSW RSPCA to improve outcomes for ex racers and regulatory monitoring of participants with the RSPCA as required;
• Development of a new IT platform OzChase which will enable the lifecycle tracking of greyhounds.
GRNSW is working with Greyhounds Australasia and the other State bodies to holistically ensure our approach to ensuring the welfare of greyhounds, including those that are exported to race internationally, meets best practice.
As is the nature with these type of awards, there will be debate amongst participants as to the relative merits of each of the finalists and other well credentialed greyhounds that missed out on a spot in the final three.
And given the amount of feature racing each and every year, there is always a tendency for the most recent performances to be at the forefront of public debate when the award actually takes into account performances across the entire 12 month period.
The night is also an opportunity to recognise the efforts of individuals who have made a significant contribution to our sport through the awarding of Volunteer of the Year, Young Person of the Year, Club of the Year and the prestigious Allen Wheeler Medal.
If you haven’t been to a Greyhound of the Year night before, I urge you to consider getting a group of friends together and coming along as it is a great night of food, drink, entertainment and an opportunity to catch up with friends involved in the sport.
As you will have read elsewhere in the E-Chaser, a new Board takes the reins of GRNSW on the 10 February.
This will see the retirement from GRNSW of our long term Chairman Percy Allan and Board members Bill Mangafas, Jack Primmer and Tom Green.
Each of these gentlemen has made a significant contribution to the progress of the sport as part of the Board and their experience and counsel has been of tremendous benefit to GRNSW over an extended period.
Our veterinary staff believe that the condition may affect up to 4% of the greyhound population and if detected early enough, can be easily managed throughout the life of the greyhound. The first veterinary fact sheet produced by our Greyhound Welfare and Veterinary Services Unit provides an overview of the condition and how it is treated. Keep an eye on the website over coming months as our veterinary team develop further fact sheets on greyhound health and welfare matters.
The Pannus decision demonstrates the benefit of establishing the Greyhound Welfare and Veterinary Services Unit in-house at GRNSW. Issues such as this can be appropriately dealt with from a veterinary perspective whilst at the same time measures can be put in place that ensure the integrity of the process by using GRNSW employed veterinarians to assess affected greyhounds.
If you have any questions about the Pannus issue, please do not hesitate to contact the office and speak to either our integrity or veterinary team.
As many of you would know by now, Dr John Newell has commenced with GRNSW as the Industry Veterinarian stationed in the Hunter / Central Coast areas. John has vast greyhound experience with particular speciality in reproduction matters and will be a great addition to the GRNSW team.
On a different note, it was pleasing to see common sense prevail with the Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) announcement last month that named greyhounds currently racing on Naming Certificates would continue to be able to race in Victoria without being micro-chipped. Our team had been receiving a large number of calls from concerned members and the decision by GRV bought it back into line with the rest Australia.
Wishing you all a prosperous 2012 with many winners.
Since assuming regulatory responsibility for the sport in 2009, GRNSW has increased the financial commitment to drug detection and to the volume of swabs taken as part of its drug detection programme.
In 2010/11 some 3,398 samples were tested, the highest number of samples tested in the last decade notwithstanding that the amount of racing in NSW has remained stagnant in that period overall. The percentage of samples declared ‘positive’ by the racing laboratories last year was just 0.77%, the lowest level recorded in the last decade.
The approach of GRNSW to drug detection accords with best practice in place in other codes and has a strong emphasis on target testing based on form and precedent, as opposed to the random ballot method in place prior to GRNSW assuming regulatory control.
The swabbing policy and its application are routinely reviewed by the General Manager, Racing & Integrity who has no direct race day stewarding role. Further, a report on swabbing activity is reviewed by the Board of GRNSW on a monthly basis. This oversight is now enhanced under our new approach to race day stewarding where TAB meetings are reviewed race by race by a senior steward who did not officiate on the respective meeting in conjunction with the Race Day Controller who was in charge of the meeting. Each race is analysed, each decision is reviewed.
Of course the allegations at the trots centre around inappropriate dealings between stewards and participants. In addition to its Code of Conduct and Pecuniary Interests declarations, GRNSW has in place a Steward Probity Monitoring and Reporting System with respect to GRNSW motor vehicles and mobile phones used by GRNSW Stewards.
All GRNSW motor vehicles are fitted with a tracking device which records the movement and location of the vehicles at any point in time. The system also stores the addresses of all licensed participants for reporting purposes. Additionally, the mobile phone accounts of each Steward are routinely reviewed to identify any inappropriate contact with licensed persons.
In September 2011, GRNSW’s internal auditors, the Internal Audit Bureau (IAB), conducted an internal probity review of the Stewards activities to ascertain whether or not there is evidence of any potential probity matters, in particular potential conflicts of interest. No integrity issues arose as a result of this independent review.
GRNSW recognises that maintaining the highest levels of integrity within our sport is integral to both participant and consumer confidence in our racing product. I am confident, when the above is added with the recent stewarding and veterinary changes, we have in place the right team and processes to ensure that.
From mid November TAB race meetings will progressively move to the new model of race day stewarding GRNSW has adopted. The initial tracks that will adopt the new approach are Bulli, Dapto, Richmond, the Gardens and Wentworth Park. The remainder of the TAB tacks will come on line later in the month with all TAB tracks to be covered by this new approach onboard by mid December.
From a trainer perspective you will not notice any significant change with the exception of race day interviews or inquiries that you may attend from time to time with the Stewards. To a large degree these race day interviews and inquiries will be conducted no differently to how they are currently, with the exception that one Steward will be in the room with you, and the other will be present via video conferencing.
My July Blog detailed why we are making these changes and the benefits that this new approach will bring to our sport. Change is never easy and indeed it is often easier to simply do nothing. However, if the sport is to continue to grow and develop in NSW then we must continue to adapt the way we run the sport to the changing environment and make best use of new technology to improve the efficiency and standard of what we do. This applies equally to GRNSW as it does to the race clubs and participants within the sport.
These changes have also lead to a number of personnel changes within GRNSW including the departure of four Stewards who have respectively served our sport with admirable dedication for, in some cases, decades. I acknowledge the efforts and contribution that Steve Howard, Roy Maynard, Martin Wright, Scott Matthews and Ear Brander Craig Jackson have made to GRNSW and the sport and wish each the best of fortune in their future endeavours.
Next time you have reason to visit our Rhodes office, please do not hesitate to ask to see the new set up to get a better appreciation of the changes that are occurring and to see them in operation.
As you will have read elsewhere in the E-Chaser, from this month GRNSW will stop issuing the traditional Naming Certificates and move to issuing Greyhound Identification Cards. The cards will include microchip numbers, ear brand details and distinguishing features – they will not include the traditional markings that were central to the Certificates.
GRNSW will continue to issue Certificates on request to those greyhounds being sent interstate to race until January 2012, thereafter all States will either be issuing cards or at least be in a position to process cards on race day.
This change has benefits for both members and GRNSW in that there is no longer a need to have greyhounds ‘marked’ prior to naming at around 12 months of age, and the naming process itself will be more efficient allowing a quicker turnaround of naming applications. At present, between 600 and 700 greyhounds are named through GRNSW every month.
Don’t forget that if you have greyhounds that are already ear branded and not yet named, and they are not yet microchipped, October is the last month in which GRNSW will be running free retrochipping sessions throughout the State. Greyhounds now must be microchipped to be named. Of course for pups, this will continue to occur free of charge along with ear branding at 12-16 weeks of age.
Many of you will have read media reports about the Government’s proposal to merge the thoroughbred and harness stewards under the umbrella of Racing NSW and some of you have been in contact with us about whether there is a plan to include greyhound racing. There is no plan to include greyhound racing in any such merger and certainly given our sport’s experience with the former Greyhound & Harness Racing Regulatory Authority, it would be a retrograde step.
Much work has occurred over the last two years to put in place robust oversight systems to ensure the integrity of our sport which will be further enhanced by the changes we are making to our approach to race day stewarding which you will start to see in operation shortly.
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Greyhound Racing NSW has introduced a new Masters racing category for any greyhound aged 3 ½ years (42 months) and over. Click here for the full schedule
Greyhounds As Pets (GAP) is an initiative of Greyhound Racing NSW and is dedicated to finding homes for greyhounds. Greyhounds can make fantastic pets – they are quiet, lazy and gentle dogs that thrive in the family home environment.