I was as shocked as anybody when I first heard the news about Matt Dartnall being deemed surplus to requirements at Hove.

Peter Harnden

Matt always keeps a good standard of greyhound who are without fail kept in immaculate condition and health on welfare he would be classed as an outstanding example.

The decision reached by the Hove promoters may appear to make perfect business sense to them, but greyhound racing is no ordinary business.

Promoters around the country are paramount to the sports future, like it or not we cannot survive without them and similarly they cannot survive without young trainers such as Matt who can play pivotal roles in the ongoing success of their businesses for many years to come if nurtured along.

Trainers aren’t coming into the sport at such a rate that they can be easily replaced. Both trainers and promoters need to work together to ensure that they are both happy with their side of their contractual arrangement, neither can live without each other and as in any marriage, there has to be an element of give and take on both sides.

Promoters for me need to ask themselves in situations like that which has arisen at Hove with Matt, if the locally based business decision they have come to is seen to have such far reaching negative effects on the sport as a whole, then is it really the correct decision after all?

This situation got me thinking more and more about the bigger picture and about the sport as a whole throughout the UK. Promoters are constantly making business decisions that might locally make sound sense, but from the sports perspective and for our long term success, they are one by one nails in our own coffin.

These very same promoters who are tasked with making these cold hearted and ruthless decisions are in a good number of cases then sitting on the board at the GBGB and are expected to come to decisions which benefit the whole sport.

The conflict of interest is clear to see to even the most short sighted of individuals, it’s extremely worrying and I will once again be airing my concerns to Jeremy Cooper and Mark Bird.

I would hope that the promoters don’t see this as a ‘promoter bashing’ exercise, it most certainly isn’t. I recognise the need for them to be in charge of successful tracks and appreciate that tough decisions do need to be taken on occasions.

However if the promoters wish to see a sport that is successful not just for the next 5 years, but for the next 10, 20 and 30 years, then we really do need to be sitting down and working out a plan that will result in long term success for us all.

That means working with trainers such as Matt to ensure that they can both provide security for their own young families and also that they can provide a service that their contracted tracks are happy with.

In most cases, trainers are 80% of the way there in providing what the tracks want, lets all ensure that we do all that’s possible to see that a difference of opinion that equates to only 20% isn’t seeing trainers and track promoters left in no mans land.


Though the next matter I’m going to mention is an issue based on Irish soil, our sport is so closely interlinked that decisions made on either side of the Irish sea effect us all.

The sport in Ireland, maybe even more so than here in the UK, is built upon the grassroots of the smaller tracks and venues.

The closure of some of these so-called grassroots tracks might again seem like sound business sense in the short term, it is though a sure fire route to the sports long term collapse. A building cannot stand without it’s formative bricks and I urge the powers that be at the IGB to put an end to the proposed closures for their own sakes and for the sakes of the whole sport.

Those of you making the decision to close tracks might not even be around to see the consequences your actions will have, but there are young people in the sport in Ireland and beyond whom your decisions will have a devastating medium to long term impact upon.

It is not too late to alter your route and every available avenue should be explored in an effort to keep each and every track open.

Even if the tracks and trainers have to become accustomed to a different way off life, for example with their track becoming part of the bookmakers services that other tracks in Ireland have signed up to, then the locals will have to adapt.

Closure however is for good, it should be the very last course of action taken.