The return to racing of Derry (Brandywell) on Thursday is a great fillip for Northern Irish dog men.
The local council has delivered on a new modern stadium, though I fear life will be as tough for the new venue as it was for the old.
The two Northern tracks, Drumbo and Brandywell, receive no funding from either the Irish or UK greyhound boards and the ‘Old Derry’ was reduced to half a dozen races per week when it closed.
The switching of even a few runners to the new venue will increase pressure on nearest neighbours Drumbo Park and Lifford
Actually, I understand that it could be ‘one in and one out’ with a Southern Irish track in the process of sale and closure.
Which brings us to another apparent ‘good news story’ – the potential return of Oxford
Assuming that the council succeed in their compulsory purchase, greyhound racing would be a vital sector in their business plan.
But how would it fly?
Who would want to operate the greyhound facility? Who would want to spend the many tens of thousands to recreate a greyhound track without the guarantee of a media rights deal?
Where would the dogs come from? The industry has continued its contraction since December 2012. Several of the Oxford trainers have retired/walked away. The remainder are spread between Monmore, Towcester, and Swindon.
The more you scratch the surface, the growing issues of the media rights battle, combined with the contraction of the industry, are there to be seen.
The fact that Crayford, one of the most lucrative contracts in the country, are offering a ‘flexible’ trainer deal, is significant.
The fact that Romford, with its £250 opens and appearance money for non-contract trainers, had to stage seven maiden races on a 13 race Friday card, I take as another sign of a squeeze.
(Typical of the problem, at the beginning of the year Romford’s most prolific visitor Mark Wallis announced that increased graded commitments at Towcester would mean less visits to London Road.)
Whether it’s the recent trio of opens at Newcastle without a single outside entry, or Doncaster and Henlow barely filling an ‘OR’, or
Shawfield’s lucrative, but sub standard support card on Saturday – trainers are being very choosey about open racing.
Increased prize money is seemingly irrelevant.
Meanwhile, a number of kennels have quietly taken full advantage of the situation to negotiate lucrative, but secret, sweetheart deals for graded racing.
Winners all round. . . .you might think.
Unfortunately, as they have discovered at one southern stadium, these things tend to leak out. . . .
Edmund Burke famously said “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it” and as a student of greyhound history, there are regular instances of old issues returning to the fore.
Anyone reading the recent Remember When page from April 1960 (you can find hundreds of old articles via the ‘Star Sections’ button on the home page), will recall how the recently constituted Bord na gCon felt the need to introduce a rule to disqualify ‘faulty’ dogs in sales trials.
It came about because British racegoers were being fitted-up with un-genuine dogs in auctions.
Basically, the cleanest way, with fewest repercussions, to offload an unsound or ungenuine hound, was to put it in the auctions.
The Bord’s move didn’t prevent those hounds being born, it merely offered the flimsiest of filters for the worst offenders and helped restore some buyer confidence.
Within the last week, I have had three calls from owners of recent sales purchases – it wouldn’t be fair to say which sales – complaining that they had been sold ‘faulty’ dogs.
The point about history repeating itself is this – faulty dogs have always been born. But with a greyhound surplus and low prices, it was barely worth the breeder’s time entering them in sales.
That is no longer the case. It is the flipside to the welfare bonus about fewer dogs than ever ‘not making the track’.
And as the barrel is scraped. . . . .
So – in the words of Sergeant Esterhouse in Hill Street Blues “Let’s be careful out there”.
There is apparently some vile stuff being spread on the forums at present. I haven’t seen it myself, I have refused to read this toxic filth for many years.
Needless to say, the antis love the forums since they only have a loose grasp of truth and take any help they can get.
I have been contacted in relation to the allegations to ‘expose’ a cover-up with GBGB seemingly avoiding calling an enquiry into multiple rule breaking.
I did some background checks and received, what I considered to be a very reasonable explanation of events surrounding the deaths of three greyhounds. Without going into detail, I was read a veterinary report.
Sadly – unless you agree with allegations, you are deemed to be part of a cover-up – and to that there is no possible response.
However, there is a huge difference between allegations and evidence. Allegations are like turds – anybody can make one.
The situation for the Star is simple. We are a very small organisation (smaller than I would have liked, courtesy of the GBGB’s Chuckle Brothers who retired last year.)
However, even if, we had the resources and the powers to investigate GBGB, I would always deem it a job for the police. Because these are not just alleged GBGB rule breaches – they are alleged crimes under the Animal Welfare Act.
I have NO issue with anyone trying to clean up with industry, but it MUST be done in the right way. Innocent until proved guilty.
Speaking of which, I have been checking the schedules for the Old Bailey and still no sign of any GBGB directors, past or present.
I was interested to hear the response to the ‘5,000 injuries to greyhounds’ figures as reported in the GBGB data.
Personally, I think it is massively under reported. Greyhounds are injured all the time. Ribble Rush has been injured three times this winter, despite spending the last six months as my (flatulent) office companion!
(I don’t walk Rushy too far you understand. I don’t want her becoming agoraphobic, having only spent around four minutes a week outside her kennel during her racing days.)
I wonder – in the world of the Nazi welfarists – if there is a Government department who would need to be notified of the two cut webs and a skinned pad – sustained while she was running around the countryside like an eejut?
According to PETA – the nutters who disrupted Crufts – I am morally bankrupt for even wanting a pet companion.
I wonder how that view sits with another famed ‘anti racer’ Trudy Baker – of Greytxploitations?
I know she certainly loved and treasured an abandoned ex-racer, yet she still couldn’t bring herself to support an industry plan to home all ex-racers.
But then, the antis are a very mixed-up and hypocritical group of free-thinkers, vegans and space cadets.
Their numbers include those who think it is okay to feed meat alongside those who think anyone even owning a leather lead should spend eternity being buggered by Satan.
But by giving a home to an ex-racer whose career was ended by a recurring tendon injury, I might just be the Bashar al-Assad of animal exploitation.
After all, Rushy is black, female, Irish and physically disabled.
Thank God she isn’t mentally disabled too!