December is nearly upon us and as we enter the final month of the year we also come towards the end of my first year as trainers representative at the GBGB.
To say it’s been a testing year would be an understatement. It’s been a very demanding time but if you asked me would I do it all again I’d have absolutely no hesitation in saying yes.
I’ve learnt so much in this past year about the sport, about the politics of the sport, and much more besides.
Occasionally I’ve felt that I’ve not been listened to – merely paid lip service and felt as though I am banging my head against a brick wall.
Then there are many other times when I know I’ve had my say and had things acted upon in the interests of all trainers.
The GBGB board is already looking a lot different to when I first took up my appointment. Tom Kelly and Barry Faulkner have departed, we’ve had the news that John Curran is to step down and now we now learn that Clive Feltham is to leave his roles at the GBGB behind in order to concentrate on his remaining tracks Belle Vue and Perry Barr.
I sincerely hope that those two tracks are with us for a long time in the future. This great sport cannot afford to lose any more tracks.
I also hope that any new members to the board are forward-thinking and can help the current members push this sport forward into a brighter future.
Many people within the sport, myself included, have wanted to see some fresh faces in the corridors of power.
We’re now at a point where the board is looking very different to what it was at the beginning of the year.
In 2018, those who have opposed the old guard should note the changes and consider amending their long held prejudices.
Infighting has no possible long term advantage and I would urge those who would pull the game apart to consider their actions and motives.
I recently attended Parliament along with owners representative Paul Ephremsen and managing director Mark Bird.
Lord Lipsey was in attendance and I know he was very impressed with what Mark had to say.
Mark is a very fair man , not afraid to take tough decisions though and will not suffer fools. The bookmakers need to pay what’s right to the sport.
One of Paul’s major principles is that to get anywhere in business or life you must have a strategy.
This is 100% correct. For the first time ever, possibly, the bookmakers can see that the sport does have a strategy. It is no longer simply a case of ‘hand over your money and don’t ask questions’.
They want to see that the money is being spent in the right areas and I believe that they are beginning to see that it will be.
The greatest consideration by far is welfare.
Welfare covers many areas in the sport but the bookmakers paying their contributions is so drastically important to ensure that these areas aren’t overlooked or forgotten about.
Ladbrokes Coral have already announced their intention to pay into the fund from all of their business now including offshore, whilst BET365 to their credit always have done.
Let’s hope that the others aren’t far behind in announcing that they will be too.
I appeared on RPGTV recently and I was asked for my views on Kinsley’s plan to home every single dog that retires from any kennel attached to them.
In my opinion, at present, it is impossible to re-home every greyhound retiring from the sport. Certain people might not like to hear that but it is the simple truth.
It’s not just the truth about greyhounds, it’s the truth about every breed of dog in the country.
The next time you have a spare couple of hours on a weekend go and attend your local Dogs Trust centre or similar. Have a look around , speak to the staff and see the trouble they have in finding homes for the dogs they have in.
Some dogs are there for month after month after month. Never a hope that they will be re-homed. Greyhounds in this respect are no different.
Should I just come out and say what those who are naive enough to think that there is a home just waiting for every single greyhound want to hear ?
Or should we sit up and be real about the situation that there simply aren’t enough people currently wanting to home greyhounds.
So I stand by my comment that at present it isn’t possible to home every single greyhound retiring from the sport.
What does upset me is individuals who believe that my being realistic about things makes me fair game for comment about my view on the welfare of our wonderful greyhounds.
My kennel is a family kennel. We’ve kept greyhounds in the family throughout my entire life.
They mean absolutely everything to me, my family and my employees. My employees don’t last with me if the greyhounds welfare isn’t their paramount concern.
I have to say that over the years this has never been a major concern , it is extremely difficult to find anybody in the sport who isn’t in it for the love of the dogs.
So I will await with interest to see how exactly Kinsley plan to find homes for all of their retiring dogs. It will be interesting to see.
Does finding a home for the dogs actually mean them living in a family home or does it mean that they will be retired but still living in their trainers kennels ?
I know I’m far from alone in having retired dogs still living at my kennels, but it would be a fool to suggest that you could keep a kennel full of them.
Racing kennels are businesses after all and rely on income to keep them viable. A kennel being filled by a retired dog is a kennel that cannot be filled by a racing dog paying their way.
You get my point I’m sure and this comes back to the bookmakers not paying into the fund.
They need to pay and they need to start paying quickly to both ensure that
- a) Trainers can keep to their contracts and supply runners and
- b) the retiring dogs are well looked after and the trainers can afford to pay for places within retirement centres such as those run by the Greyhound Trust.
There is a strong argument for a national centre to be built to be used for the benefit of all within the sport, run by and funded through the money provided into the fund by the bookmakers.
Of course such a centre and other such projects surrounding welfare within the sport very much depend upon the bookmakers doing the right thing. Unfortunatley – most aren’t – many are simply not paying a penny.
I hereby challenge those working within the press and on TV to challenge the bookmakers and their representatives at every available opportunity to do the right thing and provide the funding that the dogs desperately need.
Whenever I watch RPGTV I often people who would normally have strong views on welfare become very reluctant to the bookmakers representatives a tough time. Pity
Please don’t let your pay cheque get in the way of your otherwise strong views on welfare.
You owe the dogs that much.
Talking about retired dogs it was brilliant to see two of our retireds turn up at Nottingham on Eclipse final night to lead the parade on a couple of races.
Salacres Ray and Salacres Ritchie both looked in outstanding condition and both are a credit to their new families.
Ray won plenty of races for us at Nottingham whilst Ritchie didn’t run a race. It was quite obvious in his trials that he wasn’t in love with the game.
We’re not blind within the sport to know if a dog is being asked to do something it’s not enjoying , the vast majority love the sport but the odd one like Ritchie simply isn’t interested. In cases like this it’s only right to seek a young dog a home and it is good to see that Ritchie has fell right on his feet with a loving family.
I hope throughout the year I’ve done a decent job. I’ve helped support as many people as possible whenever I could.
Sure there have been some cases where people have felt I maybe could have done a bit more.
I’m not always right I know that much but I have my own way of doing things. I believe in showing a little bit of patience and removing one brick at a time.
It’s not everybody’s way but it is my way and I do believe we are slowly but surely getting there.