I am delighted that GBGB have finally released the retirement and euthanasia figures. It should have been done years ago.
Injuries are part of any athletic sport and we manage them. In terms of retirement though, it is unacceptable that any greyhound capable of being re-homed should be put to sleep.
I understand that the Greyhound Trust are hoping to set-up an assessment kennel to determine which dogs aren’t homeable. That is definitely progress.
We re-home all out ex-racers – whenever possible. Since I have been training, I have only ever had to put one dog to sleep because its temperament was so horrendous. Quite honestly, the dog was mentally unstable and potentially dangerous – a complete menace.
We had him neutered, changed his diet, and really persevered with his behaviour but nothing worked. In the end, I took him to the vet myself. He wasn’t happy with life and I believe it was genuinely the kindest thing to do
That doesn’t mean all our other runners will make pets. In fact, I have one in the kennel at the moment who wouldn’t – Roswell Iceman.
I had the opportunity to put him into Towcester’s home-finding scheme but I wouldn’t want it on my conscience. He is a lovely dog when you get him on his own. A magnificent looking specimen too; with a bit of time spent on him, he could probably win a prize at Crufts.
But as soon as food is involved, his temperament changes and has bitten a couple of kennel staff.
Some people will say ‘any dog can be sorted if you give them long enough’. Well he can’t be trusted around other dogs and I wouldn’t want to see Iceman near a child with sweets. Put it this way, I wouldn’t want to gamble on it.
But Iceman is going nowhere. We know what he is like and we manage his behaviour.
He will be with us for the rest of his days.
Like everyone else, we were hit by the bad weather at the weekend. We had runners on Saturday morning at Towcester which went fine with no injuries.
It was very frustrating when the weather deteriorated suddenly and it was the sensible decision to cancel the evening meeting.
As far as the day-to-day operation is concerned, in bad weather the dogs still go out four times a day. They just come back in that much quicker. Some of them are coated-up because they hate the cold so much.
They would normally get 20-25 minutes in the paddock. In the cold and wet, that might only be five minutes. They can’t wait to get back on their warm beds. If you were to leave them out for longer they would be shivering by the gates.
In addition to paddocking, we have regular walking and on Sunday, also send the owners out with a couple of dogs each.
I sometimes wonder what the welfarists think we should be doing with these dogs when they claim they spend their entire racing lives locked away?
Do they really think the dogs would still perform?
I haven’t really been following the debate on disqualified dogs not being allowed in the Derby.
Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with the rules on fighting (deliberate interference) providing they are properly applied by the racing office.
In terms of graded racing, most racing manager would get to know if there was a problem with a particular dog. But in open racing, I would like to see a bit more time for reflection.
In most cases dog are disqualified within a few seconds of crossing the winning line. Why not take a bit of time, maybe a couple of races to review the videos and then decide?
But if a dog is disqualified and runs clearing trials, I am not sure that it should be banned for entering the Derby. It should be the same as any other competition.
A compromise, given the profile of the event – it might be that the dog has to run 12 clear races before he can contest a Derby.
Last year I said in this column that I wasn’t too concerned that a SKY deal hadn’t been reached. I thought it might lead to increased crowds for the big race nights.
However – I have changed my mind.
I have met so many non-greyhound people who clearly used to watch the dogs programme and miss it; people like the guys I play golf with.
Even though the viewing figures are a lot lower than people imagine, SKY was a way of new people learning about greyhound racing and becoming involved as owners.
However – an experience at the weekend convinced me that if the industry does achieve a new TV deal – with SKY, BT Sport, Eurosport, Attheraces, or whoever, it should be reached with a very different business model in mind.
My eyes were opened on Sunday when Daniel and I were invited to a tournament darts event held at Milton Keynes. One of our owners, Greg, is in that industry.
We had a brilliant time. The first thing that surprised me was that it wasn’t open to the pubic, bar probably around 40 invited guests who were watching from just a few yards away from the players.
We got to meet a number of the players and I was staggered that so many even knew who I was. It turns out that a lot of them are into greyhound racing and followed it on SKY. Some had been booked into the Towcester the night before – the abandoned meeting.
What really made me think though was the commercial set-up of darts. The tournament wasn’t televised – it was live streamed – and open to 128 players all looking for points to qualify for the Premier League. It was staged by the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).
The winner of the tournament picked up something like £10,000 and there was prize money in every round. I think the 64 first round winner all pocketed £150, and increasing all the way to the final. It wasn’t mega money but the PDC staged it as a support for its main events.
The darts industry has a multi million pound deal with the television companies and their big tournaments are worth hundreds of thousands to the winner.
Compare that to greyhound racing – where the TV companies want us to pay to be broadcast!
If greyhound racing does make a return to the TV screens, we should be looking to follow the commercial model set by darts.
It is not so long ago that darts was on its arse.
I understand that greyhound racing had to get its house in order on the welfare side before it could progress and Mark Bird is doing that.
But sooner rather than later, we need to integrate the kind of commercial model that the PDC is built on.
It was a very sensible decision to put the GAIN Trainers Championship meeting back to between the Scottish Derby and the start of the English Derby (April 21).
The time slot, with milder weather and lighter nights, looks a lot better. With a bit of time to spare, I wonder whether a deal could be done with somebody like Attheraces for some TV coverage? Certainly extra income would help boost the prize money which is well down on previous years.
I was due to name my team following Saturday’s meeting and dependent on how they ran in races and trials. The only two ‘nailed on’ were Bruisers Bullet and Rubys Rascal. Bullet, along with Bombers Bullet and Black Farren, will be heading to Scotland first for the RPGTV Scottish Derby.
It has been a few years since we have had an entry and I always said I wouldn’t take part again unless we had a live chance. This year I think we have a live chance.
Bruisers went particularly well in his trial: 29.19 (-10), but so did Bomber 29.29 (-10). Black Farren (29.61) was a little slower though he is only just starting to show signs that he is settling on.
Roswell Romanov ran well to be beaten by a very good greyhound in the Essex Vase Final on Friday. It was a little frustrating to see him beaten but I am giving some thought to a tilt at the Regency. It will be interesting to know if he will stay.
Before then we have a Ladbrokes Puppy Derby finalist in Brinkleys Twirl who goes into the race in the ‘live outsider’ category.
Finally, I was delighted with the trial back from Aayamza Breeze. She hasn’t raced since breaking a hock last July but clocked a calculated 28.28 (480) at Towester last week after losing a couple of lengths by checking at the pick-up.
It is some way down the line but I would love to see her defend her title in the Dorando Marathon – and if she does – I hope it is another eight-runner event.