Dangers to the industry
Was interesting to read the Greyhound Star on ‘5 dangers to racing’. But often commented by the equine trainers attending greyhound racing, and myself, are:
1) Can the GBGB please explain how on earth in a country with mainly terraced/semi homes and small land area and almost 70 million people, can they expect new trainers to start without the owner trainer scheme? Or is it, as it appears to to many, as a protected class monopoly just for ever bigger fewer kennels and hand me down kennels/ land owners? For welfare, it’s common sense that it is easier to home 2 greyhounds than 100+ . With the high average age of trainers, is a time bomb for rehoming !
Simple maths tell you multi small trainers means bigger crowds.
2) What chance have you attracting owners and new trainers especially unattached without an open-graded system? This gives security, less travel distance, and attracts owners. Under the present system it’s obviously far easier to attract owners at premier tracks. It would also open the market and force up run/ prize money .
3) Mandatory pre warm/movement/massage training and enforcement would see injuries plummet ! Go to any schooling track and watch big name trainers take dogs from a cold van straight to traps and wonder why dog are being injured?
5) Industry sponsored Pets As Therapy Dogs and trophies for the best turned out dog at each meeting. It would give positive perception!
It’s great sport but seems more and more to deter working man for protecting monopolies. The end of the owner trainer scheme stinks of protecting monopolies.
There are various interesting points, but for the sake of space, I will respond to the main one which concerns the owner trainer licence.
As someone who fought long and hard to see the licence introduced (you may even remember the petition), I can’t deny my frustration at the GBGB decision. I complained to GBGB MD Mark Bird and it would be disingenuous not to give the other side of the story. Several issues are at stake.
Firstly, the original permit scheme was run by the NGRC (who originally saw it as a necessary evil to attract trainers from the flaps to save an industry dying on its feet). The point is, the NGRC only had to answer to themselves. GBGB is bound to comply with the Animal Welfare Bill and its actions must be verifiable by UKAS.
Quite simply, owners trainers have been abusing the scheme, most notably in Scotland where there were a string of cocaine based positive findings from owner trainers.
There were other issues too. Given the nature of the ‘home visits’, many of the trainers couldn’t be visited by the stipendiary stewards during working hours. This led to some abuses in the system.
Bird explained that while the concept was superb – from a welfare point of view – that these dogs were living in the owner’s homes, in many cases, they weren’t. They were living in unsuitable sheds in gardens and on allotments. With the welfarists pushing for higher and higher kennel standards, the implications were obvious.
These problems have always existed, but the days of racing office staff making unannounced visits to check that trainers actually had the dogs they said they had, are long gone.
To make it clear – the concept of the family pet sleeping in the house and also being a racer is fundamental to my belief of what greyhound racing should embrace.
So I sincerely hope that Senior Steward Paul Illingworth and his stipes, are working on a viable alternative model to preserve that concept. Because whether they accept it or not – the owner trainer scheme has ultimately been a huge success. ED
I see the 12.24 race at Harlow earlier which was accessible to punters all around the universe to punt on carried an absolute unbelievable winning race prize money of £55. I hate to think of how many hundreds of thousands of pounds that would have been wagered on this race?
And the people in the industry think things are on the up. It is only a matter of time before even the most foolish of fools realise they are being taken the mick out of.
I have only two observations to make in relation to prize money, at Harlow, or any other GBGB track.
Firstly, the prize money alone doesn’t necessarily reflect the full range of benefits being offered to trainers. Some tracks pay decent trainers bonuses and other allowances that are not reflected on the racecard. And of course, some don’t!
Secondly, and more importantly, nobody MAKES anyone race their dogs anywhere. If it doesn’t pay for doing, don’t do it. The only reason that poor prize money exists is because owners and trainers moan – but do nothing about it. ED
You sum up how this industry is going, without doubt expertly put. I have said to you before there seems to be no way out. The way it is going, owners now are expected to dip into there pockets to look after welfare. Before you get to many emails that I am against it, I am not.
But have to ask the question – when a owner puts a dog with a trainer although its in his name, question whether it is the trainers or the stadium who are getting the benefits. I think the latter should be paying up front for the privilege, not the owner as is it where the dog is racing.
I note you mention three stadiums that have closed, you do not mention Shawfield. Is it still going? However you sum it up, the how this sport is going, we are just waiting for you to name the next closure.
In some ways, my response to this is similar to the last but I would add a couple of further points.
Firstly, don’t lump all tracks, or track owners, as the same. Some are trying much harder than others. Some are shocking. The fact that they have no passion or interest in the sport is secondary. Primarily they are looking short term with the absolute priority being the bottom line of the balance sheet.
In terms of closures, I have said from the off that I didn’t expect Peterborough, Poole or Belle Vue to re-open. Shawfield probably will, though given the dispersal of dogs, I wouldn’t expect more than a single small meeting per week – Nicola Sturgeon depending. ED