Pete Harnden

Since you last heard from me, several important matters have come to light, which I believe need further debate.

I spent last Thursday down in London at GBGB headquarters for what was my second board meeting. I felt a little more at home this time around, compared to the first, when there were a lot of new faces and a lot to take on board.

One important issue raised on the day concerned the lack of an apprenticeship scheme for young people hoping to build a future in the sport. This matter was initially raised in a letter to the GBGB by Zoe Hadley who is attached to Dean Child’s kennel at Crayford.

Zoe has found herself moving into an office based apprenticeship rather than within the sport that she so dearly loves. We as a sport simply cannot afford to let this happen.

We don’t have anywhere near enough young people coming through that will ensure the sports future, so we must make sure that we bend over backwards to help young people develop a career.

These are not empty words, this needs sorting and it needs sorting out now.

 

This takes me onto another point regarding young people being involved in the sport. Head over to Ireland to any meeting in the country and you’re sure to see youngsters of a very young age parading dogs before races.

These youngsters haven’t just been plucked off the street without any idea of how to handle a dog, they’ve spent their young lives so far around these great animals and are competent handlers.

It’s about time that we here in the UK allowed youngsters to get more involved and that we didn’t keep falling back on the political correctness gone mad style of doing things. Let’s get them involved , these youngsters are the future.

 

Another important matter that raised it’s head over the past couple of weeks was the disqualification of Pat Rosney’s young pup Blackstone Ollie. In what was only the fourth race of this young dogs’ life he found himself warned off by the stewards at Kinsley after what they deemed deliberate interference heading down the back straight.

The usual view of the action from the camera situated on the stand side of the track was inconclusive. It later came to light that the Kinsley racing office have use of a head on camera that is positioned on the third bend and looking down the back straight at the dogs. My question is – should decisions of such importance really be put into the hands of stewards on track to make within a limited amount of time?

Is that being fair on the dog, the owners , the trainer . . . . or even the racing office staff.

In my view decisions like this should be put before a panel in the days following the meeting. A pup like Ollie would have taken over a year and a half to get to that stage of his career, with countless hours of hard work and dedication put into making him the dog he is.

Should a dog’s career be put into jeopardy by a decision which is made under pressure and within minutes of the alleged incident taking place?

Again not in my view and I think it’s about time we had an experienced panel put in place who meet and decide upon any disqualifications in the days after the alleged incident has occurred.

Of course the on-course racing office team would be welcome to attend and/or send in their own views for consideration by such a panel.

It is also interesting that Kinsley have a camera positioned looking down the back straight for their own use. To me in this day and age this should be compulsory at every track and for both sides of the track too.

I would also like things like this open to view by the general public. It takes next to no time to upload important issues to a website and it should be done.

Again some tracks are good with things like this and others not so. Why not? We need to move forward in our use of technology if we are to progress.

 

The third point I wish to raise is regarding the seeding of dogs. This is a bugbear of mine and something which I have been on the wrong side of too many times to mention.

This isn’t just about having races unnecessarily ruined. I have had dogs injured due to the incorrect seeding of other greyhounds and this has led to them being off the card for months at a time.

In certain aspects of our sport, we are living in the dark ages. Too often we accept certain things “because that’s the way it’s always been”.

Again , if we want this sport to have a future we need to be open to change and the seeding of dogs is one such area that needs changing immediately.

Currently we have three seedings: unseeded (ie rails), middle and wide. We currently have a major problem in UK racing due to a shortage of natural wide seeds.

Most trainers know that if they seed their middle runner as middle then they have a strong chance of drawing out traps 5 or 6. They therefore seed rails hoping that they will draw out trap 3 or 4.

The problem is that a lot of the time these dogs end up drawn in trap 1 on the inside of true railers and the resulting consequence is absolute chaos.

We’re never going to totally resolve this issue but we can certainly limit the affect of it by introducing two new seedings of middle to rails and middle to wide.

Personally I would also leave in the current middle however I can accept if we do away with that and just have the two new seedings. It will solve a lot of problems and I will be pushing for this to be incorporated as soon as possible.

Racing Managers around the country also need to play their role. If they are in any doubt about the seeding of a greyhound they should be speaking to the trainer making the entry as well as watching videos online

Also, if necessary, they should discuss the runner with the racing manager at tracks where the dog has previously raced.

Racecard comments also need to be a lot more accurate than they currently are. Some of the comments i have read leave me wondering if I was at the same meeting.

 

 

It’s been good to hear from trainers the length and breadth of the UK during my short time in position. Trainers from Sittingbourne right up to Shawfield in Scotland have been in touch to offer their support and it is very much appreciated.

I am now looking for some input from people prepared to represent greyhound trainers and owner trainers. My plan would be to meet them three of four times a year and we can formulate ideas to be taken to GBGB. Please get in touch if you would like to continue.

Even if you don’t plan to get involved to that level, I am always open to suggestions and comment from any trainer with anything constructive to add. You can ring me anytime or email me at salacresracingteam@live.co.uk

 

 

The Star Sports English Derby will soon be starting. My thanks to the team at Towcester and to Ben Keith of Star Sports for taking the bull by the horns and giving us all hope that we have a bright future. We have one entry for the Derby , that is Salacres Koeman.

He’s a young dog bred from our own Salacres Gem out of a terrific and in my view under used sire in Zero Ten. Koeman is only an August 2015 whelp and he has a lot of improvement still to come.

He’s won a couple of good races around Towcester already though and is getting stronger all the time. Owned by myself , Mark Pierrepont and Alan Witts he deserves to take his chance and with a little luck who knows. Without a dream what do we have.