Welcome to our weekly Question and Answer column which runs each week on thedogs.com.au and GRNSW websites.
We are now more than two months into dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and I want to commend all participants, race club staff, GWIC and GRNSW staff for their work during these difficult times in keeping everyone safe and the industry still racing.
I think you all would agree it was wonderful news this week that we were able to lift the restrictions around regional rezoning and return to a somewhat normal racing life, albeit that we must still strictly adhere to biosecurity protocols.
As I have said from day one, our first and foremost concern is for the health and safety of all of our participants and staff.
I hope that this Q & A column has been beneficial to all participants, not just those who have emailed questions.
As the case has been this week, any important announcements or developments, we will publish those across our GRNSW network as required.
Here’s the latest round of questions sent in to GRNSW.
1. Q: Tony it’s great that we have Wentworth Park back and even better that everyone is able to race there now. Do you think owners will be allowed to come to race meetings at Wenty soon?
A: As much as well would love for crowds to be allowed back, it won’t be the case in the immediate future. While the Government has relaxed some restrictions, crowds are still not permitted to attend any sporting events.
2.Q: Tony did we see another case like we saw with Mike Baird, of greyhound people power putting pressure on you guys to change the zoning rules? Last week you said three regions and two of those couldn’t race at Wentworth Park, and I was at Bathurst on Monday and there was a lot of people blowing up about it. Then this week you said the zones gone, everyone can race there.
A: No not all. We made the decision to open up the zones to three zones from six because we wanted to bring racing back to Wentworth Park, and because travel restrictions were still in place, and while we were deemed as essential work, we didn’t want to put our participants at any risk until unrestricted travel was declared. The program and schedule we had put in place was one we were happy with, especially having committed extra weekly prizemoney go into those other regions. We would have continued to race that way in the next phase of coping with COVID-19, but then when the NSW Government announced that unrestricted regional travel could be undertaken again for everyone, we acted swiftly to lift all regional travel restrictions.
3. Q: I was out at Garrards Horse and Hound store at Menangle Park trotting track and the staff there were asking why doesn't greyhound racing race here, as the GBOTA could, through funds from the GRNSW, build two tracks on the inside of the trotting track, a two turn track like Wentworth Park and also a one turn track like Bulli. The trotting fraternity appreciate what greyhound racing did for them when they were shut down some time back due to the virus (Equine Influenza).
A: While a great facility for harness racing, and there is plenty of room out there, it is not something that has ever been on the radar of GRNSW.
A: Track maintenance and safety upgrades are being undertaken at Maitland, all interventions will be completed next week and after an inspection of these works, we expected the track to reopen for racing on June 4.
5. Q: It’s great that we are starting to get back to normal again, but what is happening with Non TAB racing?
A: GRNSW has just released its City & TAB racing calendar in June with the additional of Non TAB race meetings at Taree and Broken Hill. The further addition of racing at Non TAB clubs is currently being reviewed by GRNSW and we will be making announcements around that when applicable.
6. Q: Now that we are back to racing around the State, can we finally look at going back to the normal two lines of boxing dogs? This current system is just not fair.
A: The short answer is no, we can’t return to that. While we are back racing without zones, we must continue with all the biosecurity measures that have been put in place, and with social distancing. The two line boxing of dogs is a breach of the guidelines put in place by the Government. GWIC have informed me that both the boxing protocol and the ruling around handlers being allowed on track will be reviewed as other restrictions are eased around the State.
Good luck to everyone racing across the weekend. Please stay safe.
I have regularly mentioned in this column these are tough times and we are as an industry all in it together, so I urge you to pick up the phone and call a fellow participant to make sure they are doing ok as well.
Do not forget if there is anyone who may be struggling at the moment and wanting somebody to talk to, you can do something about that. If you do feel the need to talk to someone about your situation, please do not hesitate to call. You can speak with a qualified counsellor at any time by calling 1300 687 327.
Keep yourselves and your families safe, and importantly be vigilant in these difficult times.