Sitting back and slowly watching something that you have cared so much for throughout your life slowly be destroyed isn’t easy.
The sport of greyhound racing has been a part of my life since the day I was born. To remember it then and to see how it is now, it is soul destroying.
Being involved in the sport in its present form is akin to being an underdog in a fight with Anthony Joshua, blow after blow is raining in on you and it’s not a case of if but a case of when the knock out blow will arrive. The latest blow was dealt by the GRA.
Their apparent good news that the St Leger will indeed take place was accompanied by the news that it will see a reduction in the winners prize of well over 70%. £25,000 down to £5500 to the winner. Suitable run money has ensured that the competition retains its Category 1 status. But this great competition is more than just a Category 1, it’s a classic, a part of the holy grail of greyhound racing that any ‘true dog man’ has on his or her bucket list of ‘must win events’.
So some might argue that if it’s the prestige that makes the event so important, does it really matter that the prize money has been reduced?
For me, and plenty of others, it most certainly does. Classics are classics as much for the prize money that accompany them as for the trophy and the prestige itself.
It is the prize money that attracts the entries and it is the competition to prove successful that eventually leads onto them becoming one of the most sought after prizes in the sport.
It is here, due to the highly competitive nature and difficulty in winning that the prestige comes into play.
Any greyhound who wins a classic has done so because they are the best. The same for the greyhounds handler. They have outperformed the best around to become the ultimate champion in their sphere.
Take away the high prize money, the competition won’t be so severe, the difficulty in winning will not be so tough, the prestige for doing so will not be as admired.
This is why although prize money is secondary, it is of the upmost importance in preserving the prestige of our classic events.
Like many I am not blinded to the fact that we are in a period of our sports history that will see it prove difficult to attract sponsorship for our events.
I am not privy to exactly what effort was put in by the GRA into finding a sponsor for the St Leger.
But what I do know for 100% certain is there was certainly no appeal put out in the sports press. No appeal on the front page of the greyhound section of the Racing Post detailing the desperation of the GRA to find a sponsor in order to prevent a 78% reduction in the winners prize
No appeal via this very website, The Greyhound Star. Why not ?
You really are left wondering how much work exactly was put into finding a sponsor before releasing news of this drastic cut.
I’ve heard the news that we should just ‘get on with it’. ‘It’s a classic we can’t let this prevent us running’.
Where does it stop I ask you though ?
If tracks around the country see that the GRA can get away with reducing prize money for a major event like the St Leger, by such a huge percentage, then which track next and which competition?
It might not be for such a drastic amount, but accepting this will give tracks and their promoters carte blanche to walk all over us.
As well as being a trainer I am also a breeder. When breeding my pups I hope that they will be good enough to compete in the sports major events. I am not money oriented so far as this sport is concerned.
It is a pursuit of love. A love of the dogs. A love of watching them run and compete against each other.
Just because this is a sport that we all love however shouldn’t mean that we should be treated with disdain by those in charge of running our tracks.
We are as worthy a slice of the pie every bit as if not more so than those controlling the purse strings.
Some people might be prepared to sit back and have our love of the sport taken advantage of, I’m afraid to say that I am not one of those. I’m nobody’s doormat. I never have been and I never will be.
I call upon each and every one of you involved in this great sport to stand up, be counted and say enough, we will understand that times are tough, we will even work with you to see that the sport pulls through.
But don’t for one minute believe we will silently be taken for fools.