Industry Moves to Keep Wentworth Park Long Term

By Jeff Collerson
Following on from GRNSW’s Wentworth Park Strategy Day with GBOTA, GCNSW and the AWU a few weeks ago, industry desire to keep Wentworth Park is clearly firming.

This column understands that the WP Strategy Day sentiment was strongly in favour of keeping Wentworth Park in the long term, with industry as the managers of the WP Trust.

Group one winning trainers Andy Lord, Craig Chappelow, Peter Lagogiane, Mark Gatt, Mark Bell and Owen Langley support such a move.

She's A Pearl's trainer Andy Lord, Sydney greyhound racing's most successful conditioner over the past decade, said: "Nobody races there more than I do but I get fewer injuries at Wenty than anywhere else.

"People whinge about how long it takes to get there, especially on a Wednesday night, but we've never had a problem.

"My kennels at Gunning are between two-and-a-half and three hours from Wentworth Park so we leave four hours before kennelling.

"Wentworth Park has been the home of greyhound racing since 1932 so why change now?''

GRNSW CEO Rob Macaulay is keenly aware of the desirability of maintaining a premier city racing track. He has led moves for industry to reconsider city racing strategy going forward, including by already meeting with GBOTA, GCNSW and the AWU. Broader industry consultation will happen now. “Wentworth Park is a great venue, and we can make it much, much better. If the sport works together, I’m sure we can come to the right agreement with government about the future of the track.”

“As to the debate regarding Wednesday nights, I’ll say this: GRNSW wishes to get the best possible results available for both participants and clubs out of all available race timeslots. GRNSW is committed to finding a remedy for low noms at WP on Wednesday nights. Following ongoing consultation regarding the best programming for Wentworth Park, all things are being considered. As well as the possibility of moving the second meeting to Sunday, various other slots and ideas are being actively considered, including Thursday and Friday nights. Subject to availability of broadcast slots and dog and trainer availability, all options are open.  

“Ultimately, more racing in better wagering timeslots at premier tracks means more prizemoney. That’s what everyone wants.”

Third generation trainer Craig Chappelow landed his biggest win when Embrace took out the 2022 Group 1 Peter Mosman Opal so it's no surprise he is a huge fan of Wentworth Park.

"Wenty is greyhound racing's Randwick and it has always been the dream of most trainers to win a race there,'' Chappelow said.

"Winning elsewhere does not provide the same excitement and besides that, Wentworth Park provides dogs with a perfect pathway to big races in Sydney and interstate.''

Dual Million Dollar Chase winning trainer Peter Lagogiane said: "Wentworth Park is synonymous with city racing and that's the pinnacle of our sport.''

Owen Langley, who won the 2005 Peter Mosman Classic with Over Flo declared: "I've had less injuries and won more races there than anywhere else and if the alternative is Richmond that's not feasible.

"Richmond can't handle all the traffic it gets now, I am rarely able to secure a trial there because it is always booked out so usually have to go to Lithgow to prepare dogs for racing.''

Mark Bell, whose dog Go Wild Teddy won the 2000 Melbourne Cup, is pro Wentworth Park because he considers it gives all dogs a fair chance.

"Plenty of dogs win from box eight at Wenty but they find it hard to get across at Richmond because the run to the first turn is too short,'' Bell said.

"It's no more than a four seconds run to the bend which makes it awfully hard for dogs to get across from a wide alley unless they come out running.''

Oaks Road took out the 2012 NSW Greyhound of the Year award for trainer Mark Gatt and he is also a big fan of Wentworth Park.

"We should be staying at Wenty until we find a suitable alternative close to the city, and that doesn't mean Richmond, which seems to be the only other option at this stage,'' Gatt said.

GRNSW assures that there will be no snap decision – that everything will be carefully considered: “We are working and actively consulting with GBOTA, trainers and sponsors to find an excellent six-month trial for alternatives at Wenty. We are committed to trial different solutions, including a six-month trial of Wed night at Richmond before this summer, and perhaps even a double header of Dapto and Wenty on Thursday, or Richmond and Wenty on a Friday. Wenty will certainly end up with an excellent second meeting. GBOTA is also looking at strategies that we can jointly implement to encourage more racing at Wenty”, Macaulay says

“We’ll spend some more time consulting trainers and model-testing scenarios, and will then make an announcement about these trials. In the meantime, we continue to welcome feedback and ideas – all things considered!”