STEWARDS TO COMMENCE AINâT IT MAGIC INQUIRY
NSW Stewards will commence an inquiry into the analystâs findings of the prohibited substance 5B-androstane-3a, 17B-diol (BaB-diol), a metabolite of testosterone, at a level in excess of 10 nanograms per millilitre, in the urine sample taken from Ainât It Magic at the Nowra meeting on 13 February 2013. The inquiry will be held on Thursday 5 September 2013, commencing at 11am.
STEWARDS TO COMMENCE PHANTOM JEWELS INQUIRY
NSW Stewards will commence an inquiry into the analystâs findings of the prohibited substance 5B-androstane-3a, 17B-diol (BaB-diol), a metabolite of testosterone, at a level in excess of 10 nanograms per millilitre, in the urine sample taken from Phantom Jewels at the Lismore meeting on 19 February 2013. The inquiry will be held on Wednesday 11 September 2013, commencing at 10am. The inquiry will be conducted via video conferencing from the Lismore Stewards Room.
STEWARDS TO COMMENCE MENTIONED INQUIRY
NSW Stewards will commence an inquiry into the analystâs findings of the prohibited substance 5B-androstane-3a, 17B-diol (BaB-diol), a metabolite of testosterone, at a level in excess of 10 nanograms per millilitre, in the urine sample taken from Mentioned at the Armidale meeting on 2 February 2013. The inquiry will be held on Thursday 12 September 2013, commencing at noon at the Maitland Showgrounds.
In 2012 the Victorian Ombudsman produced a report in relation to the integrity of Ombudsman’s Integrity Report.Victoria. The report, titled Victorian Ombudsman â Own Motion Investigation into Victoria June 2012 â is available in full on-line and makes for interesting reading. Unfortunately most participants probably have never heard of the report. Most wonât have read it. Everybody needs to :
The report highlighted the actions of those entrusted to run our great sport â their unprofessionalism and their actions that boarded on corruption.
The 7 main points are highlighted below â the report identified:
1. GRV staff were betting on greyhound races during work hours including those in integrity-related positions.
- One employee, a senior manager was found to have placed 4,409 bets over a three year period totalling $508,705 dollars during WORK TIME. Remarkably, when identified by the ombudsman, this employeeâs contract was not torn up nor were they marched out of the building in disgrace. They were issued with a first and final warning and in the months that followed they were given a $10,000 bonus and a pay rise. Eventually this employee left the GRV in March 2012.
- Then CEO John Stephens admitted to betting on greyhound races during work time
- 11 GRV staff were found to have been involved in betting during work hours including stewards: of these 11 people – 3 stewards were terminated, 1 received a first and final warning, 1 form analyst resigned, 1 form analyst was given a first and final warning, 2 graders were terminated, 2 senior managers given first and final warnings, and 1 data operator given a first and final warning.
2. GRV staff owned greyhounds â this presents integrity issues
- How can GRV staff assure participants that they are acting in a professional manner and with integrity to everyone? They have their own interests to consider.
- GRV would continually award contracts without the correct procedures being followed â staff including then CEO would use the same contractors for personal developments. This presents further integrity issues â we need to ensure that tenders are being awarded fairly â and in align with what the industry expects.
- The ombudsmanâs report highlighted that GRV staff failed to correctly record gifts and benefits. Whilst receiving gifts and benefits is not necessarily illegal â what is received needs to be recorded and be transparent â which is wasnât. This leads to allegations of corruption and other concerns regarding integrity.
- GRV would use corporate credit cards and funds to pay for a number of non-core business related expenses such as alcohol. Public servants have faced criminal prosecution for this type of activity.
- Staff found in breach of GRV policy by betting on greyhound races during work time were given a âgolden handshake.â GRV informed the industry that their positions where terminated. This again raises integrity issues.
- Staff employment conditions stipulated the use of work email and internet based programs. Staff were able to access betting sites during their shifts to place bets on races including . Emails sent to one another also contained content of a pornographic and explicit nature â again in breach of policy.
- The results of the swabs arenât published
- The testing procedure is not known
- The penalties for positive swabs arenât sufficient
- Lack of Education
- The trainer is disqualified
- The greyhound is question is disqualified for a period of 12 weeks from conviction date, and loses all prizemoney post positive swab (we know that same inquiries can take many months)
- Other greyhounds in the kennels of the disqualified trainer can be transferred but are not able to race for a set period of time â 6 weeks – suspended.
- Communicate the âemotionalâ benefits of ownership in targeted advertising
- Dispel public myths/negative perceptions about
- Publicise the role and activities of key industry bodies
- Publicise ongoing work at GBGB – demonstrating its commitment to the medium and long term future of the sport
- Produce step-by-step guides at tracks to support new owners
- Publicise the sport as one of the UKâs largest spectator sports by capturing the passion that owners have for the sport
- The conspirators placed Win bets of $1200 on Finished Forcer long before the start, thereby ensuring it would be a short priced favourite and encouraging casual punters to take a greater interest than normal.
- A complex arrangement was put in place to invest in a multi-combination $4,992 First Four bet with online bookmaker , but omitting the two suspect dogs, including Finished Forcer.
- The suspect dogs failed to chase and were found later to be unfit to race and were suspended. Evidence of over-feeding and vomit on the kennel floors was found to be inconclusive.
- There was an existing business relationship between the conspirators and trainer Kutnjak.
- 1st leg – Ruby Jones, Winner $ 5.10
- 2nd leg – Mist Opportunity, Ran last and stewards order a swab.
- 3rd leg -Trotting and Kay Cee Spirit, both dogs failed.
- 4th leg -Hawko’s Mistake, Winner $ 3.60
- Velocity High, Winner $2.10
- Restless Teddy, Winner, a whooping $7.10 the place.
- Cambrian Rock, failed to perform.
- Dodging, placed 3rd
- Pipstar, placed 3rd
- Steve Allen, Winner $ 2.20
3. The Tender Processes and Practices of GRV
4. GRV lack of gift and hospitality declarations
5. Hospitality Expenditure
6. Staff were given termination payments
7. Staff use of email system
The ombudsman report identified a number of issues involvingin Victoria â some of which are still on-going and have not been adequately addressed. The report has identified a number of issues that affect all state authorities. Changes have occurred in Victoria and they needed to. We need to ensure that this keeps occurring â both here and throughout Australia. Everybody needs to read the ombudsmanâs report â changes needs to occur and integrity needs to be maintained.
The Australian Greyhound industry and the punting public need to have complete trust in those entrusted with the role of overseeing it. State authorities need to show that they are doing all they can to ensure integrity and transparency. Continuing on from our swabbing story last week â letâs take a further look at some other issues. There are countless others and everyone needs to raise their concerns.
GRV staff identified by the ombudsman are still employed by GRV. One questions how this can ensure integrity if some of these persons are still in charge of overseeing theindustry? If they have been found responsible of breaching GRV policies, then they were responsible for unethical behaviour. How can they still be employed in these positions?
One concern is the seeding of greyhounds into races. In blatant terms one could consider this a true example of race fixing. By seeding greyhounds, stewards are attempting to shape the fields and influence the outcome of a race. Of course in, things happen during a race, so why do we need greyhounds to be seeded? This is a quick fix that would improve transparency and integrity. No more greyhounds seeded into races, concerns addressed. Allegations that race fixing occurs disappears.
Box draws are a unique issues. It is all well and good to say that they are conducted by a computer. However computers can be programed to produce particular results under given circumstances. The fairest way to draw a race, and box draws is by the banjo system â which should be recorded or displayed online to ensure transparency and fairness to all.
The ombudsman report touched on the surface of an organisation failing to be managed in a manner that was expected of it by the industry that supported it. It was an unethical organisation.
Furthermore â the ombudsman report touched on the surface where the industry needs to dig deeper. The investigation needed to delve into the phone records of GRV staff and stewards identified in the investigation. Confidence and transparency needs to be built. When people entrusted with the administration of this industry are placing substantial bets of races it begs the question, âTo what extent are these people prepared to go to ensure they reap a benefit (reward) from their investment?â Letâs remember, it was these same people who were responsible for grading dogs into the races, seeding dogs into field and the box draw. They were also responsible for deciding which dogs were subjected to the swabbing process during a meeting.
By comparing betting records with telephone checks, investigators may be able to identify a particular pattern of bets between GRV staff and trainers. Was there any communication that would help identify a particular pattern? Can we conduct this inquiry to negate the risk that any trainers were involved?
Investigations need to be made to ensure that these issues didnât occur and indeed are not currently occurring. A formal inquiry should be conducted by experience investigators with sufficient experience and knowledge within the racing industry to ensure that these issues and more are completely investigated. This may require commission of inquiry powers to ensure such an investigation is successful. The persons identified in this report oversee the integrity of the industry, they are judge jury and executioner.
Similarly the process of determining which dogs are swabbed at a meeting needs to be overhauled. If officials have placed substantial bets on a particular dog and the trainer is made aware that the dog will not be subject of a swab, than the officials bet had a greater likelihood of success. The ombudsmanâs investigation did not delve deeply enough into the activities of those persons involved. Similarly, where were the offenders managers in this process, what role did they play and why did their supervision not detect this activity?
How do we stop this? While not saying that it does occur, letâs prove that it doesnât. Dogs that are to be swabbed on race night should be drawn randomly and in the public spectrum for all to see. All race winners should be swabbed. All swab results need to be published.
These are just five issues of many that need to be urgently addressed. The industry needs leadership and governance by corporate business professionals. Integrity needs to be built and participants need confidence that those in charge are doing everything they can to level the playing field. Victoria in particular would benefit from a Commission of Inquiry, and those that do the wrong thing are in turn held suitably accountable for their actions. These small few canât be allowed to damage the industry for all involved. Queensland has begun its Commission of Inquiry and industry participants are eagerly anticipating the findings.
The ombudsmanâs report touched on the surface concerns about GRV â but the findings relate to each state authority. We raised some issues â a few of many – and you are encouraged to raise your issues and concerns. Again, there is no proof that this has happened â but letâs eliminate any suggestion that it has, or it is currently occurring.
The Nationals look like providing some real challenges for punters.
The Sprint has more pace in it than last weekâs runoff in Victoria though it is still possible that Paw Licking will again lead around the corner from Tomac Bale. However, runners from Tasmania and SA (Sheâs All Class and Hopeâs Up) are no slouches and could get in the road. Over on the rails, Xylia Allen and Zulu Zeus are a little up and down at the jump but you never know. Both have lashings of ability but could get squeezed back.
Otherwise, it is hard to see WA and Queensland figuring but how they get around that turn will dictate the result.
The Distance event is a different story. Seven of these are only average to fair stayers, never mind the publicity. The exception is Smart Valentino from NSW. During the last several weeks only two stayers have really run time anywhere in the country, both at Wentworth Park. Cawbourne Looney (42.06) is not in this race but Smart Valentino is (41.96). (A hint for the future â Cawbourne Looney does not like going around another runner, which is why it ran much slower time when winning at its last start).
The trouble is that Smart Valentino is not a great beginner and likes to race a couple off the fence. Its rails draw will be an advantage only if it gets out well and possies up in the first few. It did that in a near record run over 618m at Richmond back in April but the bend start and box 1 were big assets there. So while it has won two from two out of the red the more important thing for it is to avoid checks. But will it be suited by the tighter track at The Meadows? Not sure about that, but if it likes the conditions it could win comfortably. It should certainly be finishing better than anything else.
A guide to the others can be seen if you compare their better times with the track records at their respective homes.
1. Smart Valentino – +2 lengths
2. Destini Fireball – +10 lengths (but has run +5 lengths previously)
3. Wag Tail – +12 lengths
4. Lashing Jill – +8 lengths (few top liners have raced there, but did beat Bell Haven)
5. Kalden Mayhem – +15 lengths
6. Mimicking – +10 lengths
7. Set Sail South – +10 lengths
8. Mapgpie Bob – +9 lengths (but slower in runoff when LAW).
Given Smart Valentinoâs above challenges and Destini Fireballâs inconsistent form lately, throwing a dart at the racebook might be the best solution. Having said that, and despite it getting off the track on occasions, Destini Fireball was not suited by its outside box last week (few dogs are) and box 2 is its most successful. Both those inside two dogs are likely to be âundersâ, making profits difficult. However, with some confidence, you could leave out Kalden Mayhem from the multiples. It beat a sorry collection of alleged stayers in slow time at Angle Park to make this event and is hardly an improver.
Given the tricky nature of The Meadows layout, outside runners are going to be up against it unless they can lead early.
A likely leader? Well, Destini Fireball could do it, if it is on the job. Ditto for WA runner Magpie Bob, but I canât see it as a winner. Either way, it is all much too hard.
I have said so before but it is worth repeating. The staying art is a lost cause at the moment and shows only very occasional signs of a resurgence. The Nationals re-inforce that view. Currently, state authorities are investing big sums in bonuses for distance races, mostly for ordinary dogs. But I donât think the dogs know there is extra cash involved so there is no hope of a return to former glories until breeding patterns change.
Indeed, it is an extraordinary situation that a middle distance racer like Irma Bale (which yet again failed to run out the trip in the Victorian runoff), can earn so much money from staying races ($580k). It tells you the bitch is consistent and a real trier but it also tells you a lot about the opposition. In fact, taking a line from the trainerâs recent comments, it would be good to see more prominence given to big time 600m events. There are plenty of good dogs that can get that trip.
ANOTHER WARNING FOR FUTURE BRISBANE TRACK DESIGNERS
Ah, the luck of racing! Last Monday, that very fine racer, Glen Gallon, lined up again at Albion Park in a Best 8 containing a smaller and more modest field than it met in the Nationals run-off (see One Race Tells All, 15 Aug). Yet, from box 7, the same thing happened again. Three dogs were competing for the same few centimetres at the first turn, Glen Gallon in the middle. They got him, and back he went to the tail, eventually finishing fourth of six. So much for one of the best field dogs in the business.
Luck, maybe. Track design, definitely.
EVEN MORE PECULIAR
Is it a drug? Not sure, if Queensland trot stewards are any guide. They have banned the use of molasses on race days. Since it is just a form of sugar they must be worried about it being an energy drink. However, it does contain tiny quantities of minerals and trace elements (but what doesnât?)
For information, apparently trainers use a dash of molasses in the drinking water. They say horses donât like water that is different to the stuff they are used to at home so they always add the molasses to make it taste the same everywhere. They are not happy about the new rule.
I wonder how the early explorers got on? Or competitors in endurance rides? Or the Olympics? And do footballers use it?
In support of the horses, here is a personal experience. During a visit to hospital last year I was forced to drink bottled water, a product I normally never touch. I found it unpalatable because it tasted of plastic, but what choice did I have? I couldnât make it to the tap, although they could. Also, the meals, including sandwiches, were trucked in from 70 km away and then either re-heated or kept cool, presumably to save costs, but not to save the environment. We live in a funny world.
The National Sprint Championship series has undergone a number of changes to its format and structure since the first event was conducted in 1965. Withextant in only New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, the early championships were basically match ups between the best sprinters from Victoria and New South Wales, with any challengers from Queensland or Tasmania generally well and truly outclassed. This state of affairs continued until the mid-1970s.
Both Victoria and New South Wales would conduct a series of eliminators and the highest point scorers would then meet in semi-finals in the state where the final was to be held. Again, the top point scorers would progress to the final. Greyhounds from Queensland and Tasmania also qualified to represent their state but rarely made it through the semis and into the final.
The 1971 final, held at Wentworth Park over 580 yards (530 metres) turned out to be one of the most exciting races conducted on the track, but the event was marred by a false start and the breakdown of Australiaâs best sprinter.
In New South Wales, the 1971 series kicked off on 19 August with four so-called quarter-finals run at Wentworth Park. Champion sprinter Shapely Escort stormed home to defeat Tivoli Bush by a head in the first run-off with Futurity winner Top Saba third. The brindle bitch ran a fast 31.2 (in those days it was tenth timing; timing to the nearest hundredth was still two years away).
Kiwi Capers downed the ultra-consistent Miloâs Charm and King Miller in 31.4 in the second stanza while 1970 NSW Greyhound of the Year Tara Flash defeated Gemini Todd, also recording 31.4, in her run-off.
Scotch Earl downed Top Em All and Teresa Alvina in a fair 31.5 in the fourth quarterfinal.
The second series of NSW quarter-finals were held just four days later, over 500 yards (457 metres) at Harold Park. Shapely Escort blitzed Kiwi Capers and Gemini Todd by six lengths in a fast 26.4 while Tara Flash scored in 26.8.
Miloâs Charm won his stanza in a slow 27.0 and King Miller beat Top Saba by half a length in 26.7.
Both Shapely Escort and Tara Flash went into the semi-finals of the championship on 28 August at Wentworth Park as the equal top point scorers for New South Wales. The other NSW contenders were King Miller, Top Saba, Miloâs Charm and Kiwi Capers.
From Victoria came Silver Chief placegetters Royarco and Kumiss, the fast-finishing Cabernet, wide-running top-grader Which Opal and Miss Stuart and Princess Jilka. Hot Dice and Michelleâs Rocket represented Queensland while the Tasmanian representatives were Midnight Cowboy and Apt Act.
The first semi-final saw Shapely Escort give King Miller a start and a beating, defeating him by one length in a sizzling 31.0. Royarco was six lengths away third, three lengths in advance of Tara Flash and Princess Jilka.
The second semi-final fell to Miloâs Charm who defeated the Victorian Kumiss by three lengths in 31.4. Top Saba ran third, narrowly in advance of Which Opal.
The third and fourth semi-finals were held at Harold Park on 4 September and New South Wales made a clean sweep of the series when Shapely Escort flew home to down Kumiss by a half head with Miloâs Charm a head away third in 26.6 and King Miller scored by a head from Kiwi Capers with Tara Flash third in 26.9.
The final of the National Sprint Championship brought together a terrific field of five locals and three Victorians, with King Miller well served by the box draw, coming up with the coveted cherry. Super sprinter Shapely Escort, unbeaten throughout the series, fared poorly, drawn in box six. Wide running Which Opal was well boxed out in eight while Miloâs Charm was also well served, exiting box two.
Despite her poor alley, Shapely Escort was a strong 7/4 ($2.75) favourite ahead of Miloâs Charm at 7/2 ($4.50) and King Miller and Which Opal at 11/2 ($6.50). Princess Jilka was the rank outsider at 100/1 ($101.00).
A crowd estimated at around 13,000-plus flocked to Wentworth Park with the National Sprint Championship scheduled as race four.
The field were locked away and the bunny sped to the boxes. Then, the unthinkable happened. The lure sped past the boxes, the greyhounds lunged, but the lids failed to lift. Of all the times and in all the races, the lids had to fail in one of the biggest races on the Australian racing calendar. The crowd was shocked into a momentary silence.
The greyhounds were removed from the boxes and taken 30 to 40 metres down the track. The starter then tested the boxes and the equipment worked perfectly. Stewards asked the starter to repeat the process a few more times, just to make certain. The boxes continued to function as they should.
After a delay of just six minutes, the greyhounds were back in the boxes and the lure was once more on its way.
This time the start was perfect. King Miller, making full use of box one, jumped straight to the lead. At the first turn King Miller was a clear leader but most eyes were searching for Shapely Escort. She was well positioned in fourth place but within a few strides it was clear she wasnât herself. Coming out of the turn Shapely Escort was losing ground rather than gaining and was a spent force.
At the half-way point King Miller led Which Opal by three lengths with Top Saba a length further back. Behind her were Miloâs Charm, Kumiss and Tara Flash.
Straightening for the run to the judge, King Miller in the centre led Miloâs Charm, over on the rails, by a length with Top Saba, Which Opal and Kumiss all within striking distance.
In the run home King Miller kept giving just that little bit extra and held on to defeat Miloâs Charm by a neck with Top Saba a head away third. A length away in fourth place was Which Opal, a head clear of Kumiss with Tara Flash just two lengths away from the winner in sixth position. Shapely Escort was a well-beaten seventh with Princess Jilka a long last.
After the race, Shapely Escort was found to have been injured in her rear legs, almost certainly as a result of lunging at the false start. She was off the racing scene for two months.
King Miller ran the trip in a fast 31.1 and for the Ray Balk owned and trained white dog it was his 10th win in 36 race starts. His first prize of $6,500 took his overall earnings to $12,382. Of the finalists, Shapely Escort had earned $27,250 before the race from her 37 starts. Next best was Tara Flash with $17,000 in 61 starts and Top Saba with $10,627 from 50 races.
King Miller continued to race consistently if not spectacularly after the Championship. He failed to make the 1971 Melbourne Cup final after being beaten a half head in his heat by the-then little known Lizrene, later to become one of the greatest stayers ever seen in Australia.
To the best of my knowledge, no other major Australian racing final has ever suffered from the same box malfunction.
is like other sports â sometimes poor judgement gets the better of those involved and bad decisions are made. In , that usually involves presenting a dog with a banned or prohibited substance.
Much has been written about the state ofin Australia, with industry concerns focusing on a range of issues from poor tracks and fields to overbreeding â with different views from different parties each with their owns pros and cons.
What is often over looked by authorities but probably more important is the number of positive swabs and the lengths that individuals will go to in an effort to gain a winning advantage. The concerns are as follows.
The Results Arenât Published
A stewardâs report after each race day will let participants know which dogs were swabbed and how, whether it was a pre-race or post-race test. This does two things â one, it tells participants that they can be tested and, two, it sets positive image for the industry knockers. What happens after this stewardâs report? Results arenât published and positive swabs takes months to become finalised stewardâs inquiries.
However, the problem is more than this when questions are asked what were the results of each swab? Are they tested individually or a rumours correct that they pool the swabs â if all are clean no need to test each one and find who is guilty. This is also a cost cutting technique as the cost of testing would be cheaper by pooling the results. But is this the case?
Solution â the results of all greyhoundâs swabbed and tested are published online in a timely manner. The test results need to show what drugs were tested and what levels if any were found in the sample taken.
The Testing Procedure Is Not Known
What exactly is tested in each of the swabs taken by stewardâs on race days? Are stewards taking a swab and testing for only prohibited substance A and B, when C, D and E all impact the ability of the greyhound to perform above its normal capabilities? It is a grey area that needs clearing up. This can be achieved through education and training with all participants. How are certain drugs to be administered (legally of course) to ensure that they are not present come race days? What drugs are considered performance enhancing and what are considered supplements? Do supplements enhance performance?
Solution â we need to see a more transparent testing system, with all swabs showing an individual result.
The Penalties For Positive Swabs Arenât Sufficient
The stewardâs reports into a trainers positive swabs make for interesting reading. Some trainers get fined only, some get rubbed out for a few months and others seem to get a little longer. It differs much like a magistrate in a court of law. One thing that is common is the dog involved is disqualified from the race in question and loses it finishing position and any prizemoney. Punters still win their winnings and losers still lament their losses â the TABâS have well and truly paid the race by now.
A recent example of a positive swab for a trainer showed that their dog tested positive to pentobarbitone â Nembutal. The result was that the trainer was fined $1000.00 and the dog disqualified from its win and the wining prizemoney. The trainer in question is not the problem and this is not a personal attack on them. But where is the punishment. For those interested the dog was able to race the following week and has done so since that time collecting checks on the next 5 of 8 starts including 2 wins. This well and truly covered the $1000.00 fine imposed by stewards.
There are countless stories throughout Australia about punishments and lack of. This is where the industry needs to get tough on those found breaking the rules. Many top quality Melbourne chasers have been found to have tested positive. Some chasers have won well over $100,000 dollars in prizemoney. Interestingly, a favourite Melbourne grey tested positive about 12 months ago and has raced top grade ever since, contesting group events consistently. Since its positive swab and over a 12 month period this greyhound has only been tested once more. Disgraceful.
A national approach is needed to stamp this negative image from our industry. Those found deliberately breaking the rules and cheating to gain advantages should not be welcome. More so, owners should be forced to take responsibility as well to ensure that they trust their chasers with trainers who set a positive image.
Debate has raged from years about how best to combat this problem â after allis a friendly game and if a trainer knows that they are about to be rubbed out it is easy to transfer the dogs to another person. Where is the penalty there?
A suggestion â if a trainer is found to have deliberately broken the rules than anyone associated with that trainer needs to suffer a form of consequence. Hear me out.
The benefit here is that owners will soon be placing their greyhounds with persons who set positive images for our industry. Owners will take more responsibility for the welfare of their greyhounds. Soon, the dirty trainers will be wiped from the sport.
If a greyhound is transferred between the date of swab and the finalised inquiry it still gets suspended for 6 weeks.
This solution is probably not the best method but it would have a pronounced effect on the industry and encourage all participants to ask more questions of everyone. Trainers and owners should be checking with stewards about what is and isnât legal. What drugs are being testing for, how can a drug be administered to ensure it doesnât affect performance?
Lack Of Education
The industry needs to provide better education and training to participants. To obtain a licence one only needs to apply. There is limited knowledge that one must possess to be able to complete a form. Courses should be run and participants required to complete regular training to remain current.
Education is one of the keys to a positive image. If trainers and persons are aware of what can and canât be done this will assist in negating bad press and publicity. A search of the internet, greyhound webpages and clubs failed to find any education material available. Iâm not sure how many chemists or vets we have training greyhounds in Australia but without some expertise how does one know what they can are canât do? Word of mouth â but who can we trust.
Just because someone has done something for so long doesnât mean that it is right. It just means that they havenât been caught yet.
Let people know the acceptable levels of what can and canât be done. Provide education and training. Assist with greyhound welfare, administering pain relief, injury rehab and supplements that should and shouldnât be used. Above all â at least give participants something.
This comment is by no means a solution to the problem. These are just some concerns faced by an industry in need of attention. The fallout from bad press and publicity isnât able to be managed. What we can measure is participation and new involvement â that we can see has been on a continued decline for as long as one cares to remember. A national approach.
The future ofis up in the air. Negative press and the rising of anti-racing lobbies continue to push persons away in droves and prevent new participants. Track attendance is down. Tracks are closing. The TAB wants more but at what cost? Our industry is faced with a challenging climate â by adopting a national approach we will be best placed to meet the changing needs to ensure growing success. Just level the playing field.
On 5th July 2013 Mrs. Connie Miller was informed that the greyhound Cyanic Haze had shown the presence of Procaine from the urine sample taken at the Mount Gambier race meeting held at Mount Gambier on Friday 7th June 2013, and that she would be advised of the date, time and place of an inquiry.
The reserve portion of the urine sample was tested and the presence of Procaine was confirmed.
Mrs. Miller participated in the inquiry by telephone conference on Wednesday 7thAugust 2013 at 3.00pm. Prior to the inquiry and after viewing all of the evidence Mrs. Miller agreed to a penalty offered by the stewards based on her early guilty plea.
As a result Mrs. Miller was charged with a breach of Greyhounds Australasia Rule R83 (2) of theSouth Australia Limited Rules of in that she produced the greyhound Cyanic Haze for racing at the Mount Gambier Greyhound race meeting held at Mount Gambier on Friday 7th June 2013. The greyhound Cyanic Haze was swabbed after competing in race Eight (8), and was found to have the drug Procaine in its urine.
Mrs. Miller was fined the sum of $400.00.
The NSW National Coursing Association is now officially gone, dead and buried. The GBOTA will take the licences over for a few months while GRNSW sorts out what to do with the NCA fallout.
This is a blessing and a huge opportunity. Never before has such a substantial racing organisation come up for grabs. It has been a major force in NSW greyhounds, a supporter of several country tracks and a publisher of a newspaper with a long history. But it has failed. Now, the next move is critical.
But first, why did it happen?
It is easy to say that finances got the better of them but it is more than that, much more. Itâs about management, about corporate structure, about strategy, about professionalism, about complacency, about customers and modern society.
The NCA, a club of a few hundred members, run by a handful on the committee, simply could not cope with running a business. It was responsible for half the action in the state until 2008 (when it left Wentworth Park) as it and the GBOTA had effectively controlled the state board for donkeyâs years. But in 2005 it had started to develop The Gardens complex at Newcastle.
Yet already the NCA-owned Greyhound Recorder was on a downward slide, helped by a national decline in newspaper readership, a slide in serious punter numbers, a narrow outlook and a general failure to offer relevant and timely information. It was introverted when the world wanted a more lively and more interesting approach, preferably digitally as well. The Recorder was â and maybe still is â potentially a great vehicle to expand public interest in. But it has not been doing that, relying instead on traditional club and breeder advertising and a bit of a chat about trainers. In its own way, deFax was not too different, for that matter. Indeed, all three national greyhound publications (including National Tabform) reflect what the proprietors want them to be, not what the customers or the public might want.
In recent times, both the club and the newspaper have been âmanagedâ by a curious collection of part-time directors, crooks, unqualified journalists and promoted secretaries, all of whom were always subject to the whims of those really in control â the NCA Committee and the powers inside it that made the decisions, including the joint decision to sign an ill-considered 99 year agreement for distributing TAB commissions. Even the oddball earlier version of the Wentworth Park boxes â later discarded – came out of that boardroom.
I admit to having form there. After some years writing a column for the Recorder I was sacked because I delicately pointed out that management by committee was a relic of the ages. They did not like that but it was their right to act, of course. I had been hired by Phil Bell, the last NCA general manager with any nous, because he saw the value in telling it like it is and encouraging change, rather than gilding the lily every week. He eventually realised it was all impossible and quit, followed some time later by myself. We are both doing fine now, thanks.
NCA Newcastleâs early move to take over ex-Wyong dates and convert them to 272m squibsâ races on Saturday afternoons was another tactical error. Those sorts of races have no future. Another error was the decision to remove support from the strategically-located Singleton club, with GRNSW blessing, and take their dates to The Gardens. More eggs in the one basket, if you like.
The Gardens was poorly built anyway, despite protests from the management of the day that it was designed by âexpertsâ. At the outset the view of 515m starts was blocked and the 413m start was a disaster, leading eventually to an expensive shift of the boxes to the more amenable 400m spot (somewhat similar events occurred at Gosford and its awkward 400m start). The camera position still distorts race pictures â a straightforward design error. The track camber is also wonky, leading to higher interference levels.
All these things could be fixed, of course, but are unlikely to get the attention they need if GRNSW simply plays musical chairs with the appointment of a new club with a new committee. Let me repeat here what I wrote on 15 July – Newcastle Failure Also a Great Opportunity.
âFirst, the Hunter needs an over-arching business supremo to take control of its tracks, promote the sport, upgrade the business model and handle the money. Re-organised traditional clubs can still organise the racing as such, mainly because thatâs what the law demands (another relic of the ages)â.
In other words, commercial structures and disciplines could give the industry a real chance of winning. Club committees will just offer more of the same. It matters little how brilliant are the members individually; itâs the committee concept that retards innovation, growth and development. Primarily, it is why racing in general has been losing market share steadily for the last 30 years. Perhaps the NCA fate will cause the penny to drop?
Passing the Buck
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says it is not interested in addressing the porkies and exaggerations told every day by Tabcorp and Tatts â those where First Four dividends are exploded beyond the ability of the pools to service them. As we pointed out in the Brunker v Bet365 case (June 30 article), the alleged $14,623 dividend posted by Tatts was supposed to come out of a nett pool of $3,658.
The ACCC referred us to the NSW racing department, which obviously has no jurisdiction over any of the other states. Why NSW? We have no idea. The event occurred in Queensland, the legal claim was heard in the Northern Territory whereis based, Tabcorp is based in Melbourne and Tatts in either Melbourne or Brisbane â take your pick, while punters are located everywhere in the nation as well as overseas.
This is a disgraceful bureaucratic cop-out. Here is a brief extract from the ACCC website telling the public what it covers.
Schedule 2 – the Australian Consumer Law
The Australian Consumer Law (Schedule 2 of the CCA) – misleading or deceptive conduct, unconscionable conduct, unfair practices, conditions and warranties, product safety and information, liability of manufacturers for goods with safety defects offences, country of origin representations.
If Tabcorp and Tatts are not misleading the public then my dictionary has a problem.
However, what it does highlight is that racing is a national business for everyone except the regulators.
Meantime, we will keep chasing the ACCC. We have objected to their referral of the subject to NSW authorities and asked for a review. Also, we are still waiting for responses from the NT Racing Commission, Bet365 and Queensland stewards on this subject. It is also odd that the Brunker case has apparently not been referred to Queensland police following the evidence before the NT Racing Commission and its finding of âunlawfulâ activities.
As an interested but amateur observer, I canât quite understand how the drug issue is being handled. I think itâs good, or good in parts, but how would you know?
Surely, only a very silly trainer or a highly skilled chemist would dope his dog these days. Or, quite often, those who did not know they were doing it. Whatever, they are going to get picked up and suffer the consequences. Barring some miracle discoveries, the laboratories are just too good these days. Such is technological progress.
I have never figured out why go-slow drugs were ever used. There must be a dozen other ways of achieving the same result, more easily and more cheaply. A nice, long morning swim, for example.
Go-nowhere seems to becoming more common. These might fall into two categories â the (illegal) content of a therapeutic drug which has not had time to filter through the system or minute traces of something which appeared from who knows where. There is no excuse for the former, it is purely careless. But what do you do about stuff that is mixed up in the meat or (for horses) the hay you buy in from a respected dealer?
And, whatever the drug, does it actually help the dog go faster or further? Especially if there is hardly any of it. Little evidence is offered either way. The attitude seems to be that you canât be sure so nothing is permissible. Zero tolerance.
But go-fast is another story. And probably less contentious. Apart from the odd chocolate ice cream, the banned list is quite long. Caffeine is just the start. Still, are they all performance-enhancing? If so, how and how much?
Fundamentally, although science and technology have jumped ahead in leaps and bounds, policing and penalties seem to be clashing with decades-old principles. Todayâs classic case, of course, is the minute trace of some nasty stuff which appeared out of the blue. Was it the remnants of an illegal act or just part of the hurly burly of the modern, fast-moving world? 20 years ago, or even 10, the lab might not have been able to identify it anyway. Ice creams are obvious, but what about seeded bread, especially poppy seeds? Or whatever the cows ate before being turned into pet meat? Or kangaroos in a mushroom patch?
Another case might be something emerging from the ever-increasing selection of drugs with some relation to steroids, or even beta blockers. Human and veterinary science has also been developing rapidly, with commercial outfits all seeking an edge, so exotic combinations are the order of the day. And what they add to muscle mass â is that good or bad? Their impacts are uncertain and debatable in respect to performance, as a couple of football clubs are finding out at the moment.
To a casual observer, a scan of guilty verdicts suggests that such a breach sometimes is classed as bad luck, sometimes not. It depends on the jurisdiction and the circumstances. As does the quantum of the penalty. Note, for example, our earlier report about a Queensland administrative tribunal cutting a penalty by two thirds because of the stewardsâ past inconsistencies.
Then there is the EPO question â or EPO clones. Itâs naturally occurring so extra effort was needed to separate the artificial from the natural. But is it out of vogue now? Itâs not out of the headlines so far as cyclists are concerned, although it is illegal in Australia without a prescription and banned by WADA. Yet the expert evidence is that it can never make the subject go faster than it is normally able to do. Further, probably, which is what helps touring cyclists, but not faster. Does that mean it is more relevant over a 700m race than over 400m? Or neither? In any event, overdosing can produce really serious problems (blood-thickening, clotting, etc).
Then we have the ubiquitous Gai Waterhouse position. A while back her stablehand was nicked for cocaine but got off because Gai demonstrated that he frequented a local pub and could well have brushed up against a known user. I am still scratching my head as to why the stewards bought that one. A minute trace, perhaps?
So what do we have here?
First, there is too much uncertainty. Nobody quite knows which does what. Or, as GALtd is at pains to point out, you can never be sure from one dog to another, or one drug to another. Hence the zero tolerance approach. Safe periods are recommended but not guaranteed. But do we need them all if the drug is not likely to affect performance? The evidence is vague.
Second, application of the rules is often not consistent.. Swabs are universal but analysis times are too long and news of hearings or appeals is painfully slow to appear in the media, and then it is heavily abridged. Legal protocols are all very well but justice delayed is justice denied. The public has a greater right to know than the offender has a right to silence.
Third, penalties or guilty verdicts may well be the same for a tiny amount of a drug as for a big whack, even though the origin of a trace amount will be unknown or debatable. Letâs have a clear differentiation.
Fourth, and equally if not more important, if we are doing a good job why arenât we telling the public? Historically, the code has been tarred with a brush that may no longer be valid. People probably donât even know what we are doing to keep the sport clean, arguably cleaner than some other sports. But who would do that telling? Our national body has shown it is not capable of mounting public relations campaigns â efforts which are sorely needed.
It is one of those areas where we desperately need an authoritative and pro-active national racing commission â one that can go out and meet the public head-on. Meantime, a wide ranging debate is needed to clear the air and help develop systems and methods which keep up with a changing world.
Compare the two â airlines and racing.
By any measure, aviation is a flourishing, high profile business yet Doug Nancarrow, editor of Aviation Business magazine, has just pointed out that it was forever under attack due toperception of its âintrusiveness, noise and pollutionâ. He asked why the industry had not done more to mount campaigns âto deliver the positive side of the pictureâ.
He had an answer, too: âwe have no single representative body, no aviation industry association like the Mining Council or the Farmers Federation to facilitate and deliver such a campaignâ. And he is right. You might remember the mining industryâs recent successful campaign to beat back the Gillard governmentâs attempt to raise its taxes.
Admittedly, Nancarrow is skipping over a few points. There are some national groupings but they tend to be specialised and really are not briefed to charge ahead with national campaigns to further the industryâs interests. There are regional and world-wide groups, too, but they donât impress the public much. In the end, each organisation spends all its energy on pushing its own wares. Even more so if someone else is competing with it. Consequently, there is no single person or body who can charge down to Parliament House or go to the public at large and make a case on behalf of the industry.
How alike is that to?
We have a national body â Greyhounds Australasia Ltd â but it has no power to do that stuff either. It could have but its members, the bosses of each state and territory, have not thought it worthwhile to do so. And commercial matters are definitely off the agenda. That philosophy is all their own work, no-one else told them to do it.
Even if they agreed to mount a marketing campaign, or make a public relations push, there is no system, no person or organisation available to look after it. Moreover, the industry has not even considered it worthwhile to set up an independent group to examine the technicalities of track design, or to evaluate breeding trends. And those are subjects GAL could handle under its existing rules.
If GAL had ever discussed those possibilities (and we donât know because agendas and minutes are not published) each member would have to take the suggestions back to their home states and get their board (yet another committee) to think about it. Delays would be certain and agreements would be unlikely.
Consequently, the public will see only what it wants to see, or what newspaper headlines will scream from time to time, which you can bet will be nasty. Aviation will probably get away with it, mainly due to the huge, multi-media advertising schemes that are normal for that industry, as well as its obvious good record in safety and technological development. Butwill not.
For example, controls over drug use have made huge strides over the last 20 years to clean up the sport yet the blokes in the street would not have a clue about that progress. They know about footballers but not about greyhounds. Nobody has bothered to tell them.
The other codes are little better off, particularly not the harness people where ongoing frauds have been exposed, stewards fired, races allegedly âfixedâ while its market share is dropping further and faster than the other two codes. The gallops have experienced one long succession of jockey malpractices and attacks on whips and jumps racing from animal lovers. Organisationally, both codes are similarly placed to greyhounds in that their national bodies are limited in power and ineffectual.
Perhaps it all comes down to the culture of the amateur raceclub, or even its dominance, and the flow-through of that thinking to the state racing authority. We will do our own thing, thanks.
Add to that the standard attitude of state governments which have failed to recognise that racing is a business and deserves to be treated like any other business.
But it is not working any more. TABs with their poker machine-like practices have taken control. Their shareholders are the real winners. Racing Ministers prefer not to hear any bad news, customers have gone elsewhere while state racing administrations keep things tidy but donât do a lot more â even if they wanted to it would make little difference unless the whole country got behind them.
Yes, the money is still coming in, but arguably at a much slower rate than if modern management systems were in play. Even then, two states â Queensland and Tasmania â are, or will be, in financial strife.
Would you vote for a powerful national racing commission to build a new and revitalised industry? Or a national betting pool to provide everyone, but particularly the smaller states, with the potential to attract more and bigger customers. If so, tell your local Racing Minister. If not, keep moaning to your mates.
In a wide ranging survey of 6,000 British owners (of whom one third replied) the Great Britain Greyhound Board (GBGB) asked for views about the conduct of the sport and its future. Results are published on its website â gbgb.org.uk.
Some of the key suggestions were:
British owners are predominantly over 45 years and male, half have been in the sport for 30 years and few expect to make a profit or break even. While the vast majority regard it as a hobby, many are concerned about costs and the number of rules and regulations.
Most are fairly happy with their chosen trainer, but a third of them would like to be consulted more.
The long term picture was much cloudier and many owners expressed concerns. GBGB summarises their views this way:
âOwners regard the sport to be in decline with significant under-investment in facilities at some venues coupled with the closure of several flapping tracks* which have traditionally seen owners and trainers develop their interest before crossing into licensed racing. Seeing Oxford recently close down (despite being perceived as profitable and popular) has left many owners feeling very pessimistic about the future of the sport.
Owners blame the decline on the disunity between key industry stakeholders (each with their own conflicts of interest) and land prices – particularly in the South East – creating too big a temptation to sell the land, leading to underinvestment in tracks and their subsequent closure.â
The survey was conducted by a professional research organisation.
*(A âflapping trackâ is one that is independent of the control of the GBGB, which oversees 26 official tracks).
THE GREYHOUND âASHESâ
At 25 official tracks in England and one more in Scotland, Britain runs about 70,000 races annually using 6-dog fields. This is some 80% more races than in Australia where 70 raceclubs operate. The relationship would obviously be more than double if the flapping tracks were included.
Betting in the UK was formerly limited to on-course bookmakers (as seen on several cop series on TV) but from 2005 off-course betting shops were authorised to handleand some $4.1 billion is now invested annually. That compares with about $3.5 billion in Australia (exclusive of turnover), despite having much smaller race numbers and only one third the population of Britain. Australiaâs 50-year history of TABs and licensed social clubs has obviously had a huge influence on its higher per-race turnover.
Attendance figures are not meaningful these days because of the large numbers of fans in both countries who use off-course venues or electronic access to race pictures and betting operators. Even so, the Greyhound Board claims thatis the third most popular sport in the UK. Australia would not get anywhere near that rating. (The pecking order varies with the surveyor and the methodology but the digital media company Perform classes them as (1) Cricket, (2) Rugby League and Tennis eq, (4) AFL, (5) Soccer).
A major organisational difference is that the Greyhound Board is the only over-riding authority in Britain (ie no states or counties are involved) although it does not directly control the activities of integrity staff â stewards and the like. They are closely associated but independently managed.
On the other hand, flapping tracks are subject only to whatever rules and regulations are imposed by local councils and animal welfare authorities.
All tracks in Britain are privately owned and a racecourse manager sets up fields and seeds dogs into boxes according to their racing habits. The outcome is interesting as British winning box data shows a fairly even spread while the 8-dog fields in Australia reflect quite wide variations due to track bias and higher interference.
While Britain may be regarded as the traditional home of the racing greyhound its involvement in mechanical hare racing started only in 1926, or slightly before that in Australia. Both were prompted by visiting American enthusiasts. Coursing and hunting with dogs is, of course, many centuries older. King Henry VIII and Queen Victoria were fans with the latterâs husband commissioning a statue of his favourite greyhound in the castle grounds.
It would be good to publish comparable information about Irish greyhounds but the Irish Greyhound Board is horribly deficient in providing data about racing there at its 17 tracks. Its website shows annual reports up to 2010 only, for example. Considering its great influence on UK racing, or racing internationally, and the presence of Australian breeding stock, this is more than disappointing.
But keep your eye on theVictoria website. Its CEO, Adam Wallish, has just returned from a visit to Ireland.
Apart from hard data, the industry as a whole clearly needs to pay more heed to the value of promoting the greyhound as a magnificent canine athlete with a history unparalleled in the animal world. To do less is to let the naysayers take over â and there are plenty of them, both here and in the UK.
NSW (GRNSW) Stewards on Wednesday 3 July 2013 conducted an inquiry into the analyst’s reports of the finding of Xylazine in the urine sample taken from Sunset Magic after that greyhound won Race 2, the Brandolini Media Services Maiden Stake, 392 metres, run at the Taree meeting on Monday 28 January 2013.
Evidence was taken from Sunset Magicâs trainer Dale Leard, trainer John Munro and Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory Science Manager Dr Adam Cawley, with written evidence tendered from GRNSW Stewards and Racing NSW Head Veterinarian Dr Craig Suann.
Mr Leard could not offer a definitive reason for the presence of the substance, which is associated with substances used for euthanasia of bovine animals. The possibility that contaminated meat may have been responsible for the finding could not be ruled out by evidence presented in relation to the associated reports.
Mr Leard subsequently pleaded guilty to a charge under GAR 83 (2) (a) of having been responsible for the presentation of Sunset Magic for the race in question other than free of any prohibited substance in that the urine sample taken from that greyhound after the race was found to contain xylazine.
Mr Leard was subsequently fined $500.
In considering penalty, Stewards took into account such factors as Mr Leard’s record of having not come under notice of Stewards for any offence in an eight year licensing history, a number of cleared samples in that period, representations placed before Stewards on his behalf by Mr Munro, his guilty plea and presentation during the inquiry. Also considered were the nature of this substance, which is considered to be a Category 5 substance in the prohibited substance rankings in NSW and its very low level present in the urine sample. Stewards also took into account Mr Leard’s personal circumstances of being a hobby trainer with limited resources but also an indication that he will be increasing his involvement in the near future.
Notwithstanding the above considerations, Stewards are mindful of the potential for damage to the industry reputation caused by such reports and that any prohibited substance matter determined with such circumstances must be met with a penalty.
Under GAR 83 (4), Sunset Magic was disqualified from the race in question and the placings amended accordingly.
On Wednesday 5th June 2013 Stewards informed Mr. Michele Famiglietti through his legal representative that the greyhound Mr. Leonardo had shown the presence of 6Î±âHydroxystanozolol from the urine sample taken at theSA meeting held at Angle Park on Wednesday 1st May 2013 and that he would be advised of the date, time and place of an inquiry.
The reserve portion of the urine sample was tested and the presence of 6Î±âHydroxystanozolol was confirmed.
6Î±âHydroxystanozolol is a metabolite of the anabolic steroid Stanozol.
Mr Famiglietti through his legal representative was advised of the analysts results on Wednesday 10th July 2013 and is required to attend an inquiry at the offices ofSouth Australia Limited, 55 Cardigan Street, Angle Park on Wednesday 31st July 2013 at 11.00am, together with any witnesses that may assist for an inquiry by the Stewards into the circumstances relating to the obtaining of the positive urine sample.
Famiglietti is already serving a 24 month disqualification over an amphetamine positive swab stemming from 2012. This new positive swab originates from the period during the inquiry and appeals process when Famiglietti was allowed to continue training.
NSW (GRNSW) Stewards on Thursday 20 June 2013 concluded an inquiry into the analystâs reports that the urine sample taken from Knocked Back – after that greyhound had won Race 4 the Lochinvar Marlow Maiden Heat 2 400m at The Gardens on 22 September 2012 – had been analysed and found to contain the prohibited substance 6alpha-hydroxystanozolol.
Evidence was taken from trainer David Wilson, licensed participant Cassara Hardie-Vincent, Dr Adam Cawley from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL), and Dr Brian Daniel from the GRNSW Welfare and Veterinary Services Unit. Written evidence was entered from the ARFLâs Dr Craig Suann, Racing Analytical Services Victoria Laboratory Director David Batty, and GRNSW Steward Max Reading.
Mr Wilson pleaded guilty to a charge under GAR 83(2) in that he presented Knocked Back for the race in question other than free of a prohibited substance in that the urine sample taken from the greyhound was found to contain 6alpha-hydroxystanozolol.
Mr Wilson informed Stewards that he had administered Stanazol to Knocked Back some six weeks prior to the race in question, and upon veterinary advice which he had sought, was advised that the drug would not still be present within the greyhound when it competed.
Mr Wilson was subsequently disqualified for a period of nine months. In determining penalty Stewards took into consideration Mr Wilsonâs prior breaches under the prohibited substance rule, the nature and high level concentrate of the prohibited substance, Mr Wilsonâs guilty plea, his co-operation with the inquiry, and the fact he was poorly advised by his veterinary surgeon. Penalties for breaches of this rule involving similar substances were also considered.
Under GAR 83(4) Knocked Back was disqualified from the event and the placings amended accordingly.
In a surprise decision, Queensland stewards have let punters Steve and Matthew Brunker and Brady Canty off the hook following an investigation into the running of a maiden greyhound race at Ipswich last July. The Northern Territory Racing Commission (NTRC)) had already found they acted unlawfully by ârigging the resultsâ when two dogs, temporarily in the care of trainer Stephen Kutnjak, finished 30-plus lengths behind the winner. One of those dogs, Finished Forcer, was an odds-on favourite and both were later suspended for failing to chase.
The dogsâ registered trainers were found guilty of exercising inadequate supervision and penalties will be decided later. Both were novice Sydney trainers who entrusted their dogs to another party for the trip to Ipswich. (Some might consider this a laborious and expensive way to chase down a maiden win).
Stewards were unable to prove to their satisfaction that there was any direct collusion between the three conspirators and Kutnjak, but did undertake to refer the matter to Racing Queensland boards and Greyhounds Australasia Ltd for a review of the current rules. (Since a major part of the exercise involves commercial activity â ie in betting â the latter organisation may not take an interest or be competent to handle it. GAL does not address commercial matters).
However, in sharp contrast to all that, the NTRC found âThat Mr Kutnjak and Mr Matthew Brunker are associates is founded on the knowledge that Mr Kutnjak had previously trained greyhounds for Mr Matthew Brunker, and that both the greyhounds mentioned above were kennelled at City Bound Lodgeâ (which was owned by the Brunkers).
The NTRC then added, âIn and of itself though, but for the wager, the Racing Commission would be hard pressed to conclude that nothing more than a form anomaly or statistical aberration had occurred. Up until this point the Commission is prepared to afford to the parties the benefit of the doubt. The placement of the wager, however, removes the hint of chance about the result and elevates it to the level of integrity breach and the Commission so findsâ.
The NTRC is a formally constituted body with wide experience in licensing and with legal members so its view could hardly be disregarded. Surely, then, an âintegrity breachâ is something that stewards must address specifically and in great detail. After all, broadly, their job embraces reviewing two big items – betting transactions and performances.
Queensland stewards have been under fire in recent months. For example, a country trainer was outed for 10 years for racing his thoroughbred at an unregistered meeting â one which he mistakenly thought was OK. That has ruined his entire business and, indeed, his life. In another case, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal criticised stewards for an excessive penalty for a greyhound trainer, reducing the disqualification period from 12 to four months. The Tribunal said âthis is by no means the first case considered by QCAT where, without sufficient explanation, the penalty imposed by stewards has been appreciably higher than the antecedents would suggest is either necessary or appropriateâ.
In the Brunker case, evidence has been produced that:
Coincidentally, the Tatts Trifecta pool on the race amounted to $8,676, only slightly short of the Win pool of $8,986. That relativity is virtually unheard of in racing anywhere as Trifecta pools are commonly only 20% to 30% the size of Win pools. This point was not mentioned in reports by NTRC or the stewards, so apparently it was not investigated. It should have been. Who would invest such large amounts on a maiden event with first starters, particularly on less predictable exotic combinations?
The imaginary Tatts First Four dividend of $14,632 (mentioned here in a previous article on June 19).attracted no comment from either NTRC or the stewards, even though, after the TAB takeout, only $3,658 of the $4,720 pool would have been available to pay out successful punters. Both Tatts and Tabcorp adopt this inflationary and misleading practice whenever only small or nil investments have been made. It also begs the question of whether the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission would regard this as a deceptive practice â ie by encouraging future punters to look for windfall dividends which will never actually appear.
The stewardsâ report failed to mention the likelihood of referring the case to the police, which is surprising considering the âunlawfulâ finding of the NTRC. Stewards have relied on their view of existing racing rules yet, even if you accept that, it may always be possible that the laws of the land might look at things differently. The NTRC implied that this was the case.
Of course, stewards also have some discretionary powers, given due process, to warn off perceived offenders from all racetracks. No such action was addressed in this case.
At the least, this episode amounts to a scam. However, it contrasts with other recent scams where the punter backed his judgement and manipulated the market while his non-favoured runners all had a chance of upsetting the applecart. But not this time, according to the NTRC, which has endorsed the age-old principle that both parties in a betting transaction should have a chance.
Such scamming is not illegal in itself unless it contravenes other laws. Still, online bookmakers have already taken steps â by altering their rules and conditions â to avoid liability when they perceive market irregularities to have occurred. Bet365 invoked those rules in this case. At the core, this is hardly a satisfactory situation for the consumer, inasmuch as the setting and the interpretation of those rules, as well as any settlement, is entirely in the hands of the bookie. Bet365 advises customers to study those rules and Brunker says he did so. TABs have no such limitations.
However, that aside, there are enough queries left unanswered that the public would surely expect stewards to carry out more thorough investigations. That public would also include everyone who invested on the subject race itself, including on the unfit runners, with little or no hope of winning.
Finally, the fact that this case has taken 11 months to get to this point is unsatisfactory. Even then, much of the detail emerged only because the conspirators themselves complained to the NTRC, seeking payment from. That claim was denied.
We have sought further clarification of this matter from NTRC, Bet365 and Queensland stewards. The NTRC has acknowledged our inquiry but have not commented yet, while the others have failed to respond at all.
In a precedent-setting decision, the Northern Territory Racing Commission has ruled that sometime owner-punter Michael Brunker breached his obligations in the way he placed a First Four bet on a Maiden race at Ipswich last July. It also blamed his associates, son Matthew and Sydney identity Brad Canty, who conspired in the transaction.
The bets were placed in the last 30 seconds from a computer, known to be owned by Canty, which was also identified (by a separate submission from) as a source used by âdog rortersâ. That particular claim was not discussed at the hearing.
The four-man Commission found that Brunker had âmanipulated the betting poolâ, ârigged the resultsâ and was guilty of âcollusionâ. The eight-dog race involved first starters, one of which was favourite.
Two dogs, Finished Forcer (the favourite) and Octane Moment, failed to chase, later causing Queensland stewards to suspend them, while Brunker had placed multiple bets totalling $4,992 on the 624 possible First Four combinations of the remaining six runners. Brunker had prior knowledge of âslow trialsâ by the above dogs, the Commission found, due to Brunkersâs association with trainer Stephen Kutnjak, who operated from City Bound Lodge owned by Brunker. He bet only on the other six runners.
Ironically, the case came up only because Brunker had complained to the Commission that NT bookie,, had refused to pay him the full amount of $73,163 supposedly due on his successful bets. Instead, Bet365 had initially offered Brunker $4,992, barely covering his own bets, but later proposed a settlement of $25,000 to avoid further expensive legal arguments. Brunker refused both offers but has now lost his bid and is now lumbered with costs as well.
Bet365âs lawyer pointed out that Brunker had agreed to certain conditions when he signed up with the bookie, including that the bookie could alter settlements when pool manipulation or other illegalities were involved. The Commission agreed.
Bet365 also pointed out that it was under no obligation to pay out more than was in the total TAB pool on the bet type â in this case in Tatts, the âhomeâ TAB.
However, some of those figures are complete nonsense. The First Four pool in the race was $4,720. After deducting the TAB takeout of 22.5%, only $3,658 would be left for distribution to successful punters. The advertised dividend of $14,632.60 is a figment of somebodyâs imagination. To calculate such a dividend, it implies that a single punter invested 25 cents on the winning combination. Brunkerâs claim was that he invested five $1 units with Bet365 and was therefore entitled to 5 x $14652.60 or $73,163. Had a correct figure been posted by Tatts, his claim should have been for 5 x $3,658 or $18,290.
The practice of Tatts and Tabcorp in posting these fanciful figures is deplorable and misleading, as we can see here. All other racing dividends are posted on the basis of a $1 investment. The Racing Commission has entirely missed this confusion. Neither did Brunker or Bet365 mention it, which is surprising.
A further mystery is that the Trifecta pool on this race was $8,676, only slight short of the Win pool of $8.986. This is an unheard of relationship and suggests that unusual activity was present there, too. In that event, and in addition to the First Four controversy, you might expect that stewards would delve further into it so they could learn who invested what. Apparently, that has not happened..
Separately, the conspiring parties also claimed that Bet365 had cancelled accounts for them and other punters at different times following too many successful bets but the Commission ruled that this was not relevant to the case.
A few years ago, a similar clash occurred when high profile punter and brothel owner Eddie Hayson and a partner executed a plunge on Lucyâs Light at a Gold Coast dog meeting after last minute manipulation of the Queensland pool. (Hayson is currently under fire for failing to appear at the Sydney stewardâs hearing of the More Joyous case. He risks a warning-off).
Lucyâs Light price soared from $1.10 out to $14 after Hayson placed bets of $15,000 on each of the other five runners while simultaneously betting huge amounts on Lucyâs Light with several online bookies in NT and SA, based on the Queensland starting price. After the win, the NT bookies paid up reluctantly, while the SA bookie appealed to the state betting commission but failed to overturn the result.
(Disclaimer: purely by chance, the writer was in the Gold Coast betting area just prior to the start of this race and noted the sudden jump in Lucyâs Lightâs price. Despite a sprint over to the nearest tote window waving a $100 note, he failed to get on as the race had just closed).
This and other cases apparently caused bookies to re-write their contract conditions, thereby allowing them to adjust payouts in the event of price manipulation. How that might be implemented had not really been tested until the Brunker case.
Coincidentally, what this case does highlight is the increasing popularity of First Four betting. Greyhound pools have been rising rapidly in the last couple of years, varying from a couple of thousand to over $30,000 at the last Sandown Cup meeting. But they are erratic, with occasional races at provincial meetings jumping from the usual $2,000 up to $4,000 or $5,000 and more. That indicates that serious punters, perhaps professionals, are taking an interest when they see a worthy opportunity. Those bigger pools bear no relation to the quality or importance of the race but perhaps meet criteria that the new investors have set up.
How those punters make their profits is uncertain as the dividends are equally unpredictable, varying from a hundred or so up to the thousands. Those same dividends are also âmanipulatedâ by TABs, but no doubt they would call this public relations, hoping that mug punters would take an interest in such windfall dividends.
However, that aside, the First Four growth may well be a reaction to low Trifecta payouts, which have been poor and getting worse ever since Tabcorp started pushing Mystery bets. That trade, as well as the fairly common practice of buying a âboxâ of three runners, tends to over-emphasise favourites as one of the three selections. Consequently, winning combinations which include one of the two favourites will almost always pay âundersâ, while those where the favourite misses a place will pay âoversâ.
In either case, they are part of a long term trend which sees Win betting decline as a proportion of the total and exotic bets increase their shares. In turn, that is likely to be due to a bigger proportion of the betting public falling into the mug gambler category. Another factor would be a diversion of TAB business to online bookies due to over-betting on the favourite, or the inability to invest larger amounts without destroying the TAB odds.
Finally, what is puzzling is the relative lack of action outside that of the Racing Commission and the limited effort of Queensland stewards to suspend two non-chasing dogs. No obvious prosecution has been seen in respect to âfixingâ a race, as such, although the Racing Commission did mention in passing the involvement of the police. Apparently, no-one has yet identified any fraud, despite the Commissionâs findings of âunlawfulâ activity. So, was it a fix or not? The public is entitled to hear more about this. The same applies to the status of licensed persons and the use of licensed premises. Both Queensland and NSW jurisdictions are involved.
NSW has advised that an inquiry into the analysts reports that the urine sample taken from Transcend Time after that greyhound won at the Maitland meeting on 28 March this year has been confirmed to contain the prohibited substance benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine.
The stewards inquiry will be conducted at the offices of GRNSW on Wednesday 26th June 2013 commencing at 10 am.
NSW greyhound trainer Mr Mark Azzopardi has been advised that his trainer’s licence has been suspended forthwith under the provisions of GAR 92 (5) pending the conduct of the inquiry.
GRNSW has drawn criticism from industry participants over the length of the drawn out process from swab to the stewards inquiry announcement, with the Azzopardi inquiry already being common knowledge in the industry despite only officially being announced yesterday.
Azzopardi is just one leading New South Wales trainer who is rumoured to be facing pending stewards inquiries; with some inquiries still yet to be announced that stem from races even earlier than March of this year – more than six months ago.
To further undermine the integrity process, Azzopardi thumbed this nose at GRNSW stewards by transferring his kennel of greyhounds to Preston Rowles last week, ensuring the greyhounds can continue to race while Azzopardi is officially “under inquiry”. GRNSW sanctioned and approved the transfer.
Azzopardi’s kennel had been flying earlier this year with kennel star Jagger Swagger taking out he National Derby at The Gardens in February.
With the Waterhousesâ battles at Randwick now drawing to a close â Gai still has one issue to discuss with the stewards â itâs timely to put some things into perspective.
Widespreadobjections to Channel 9âs overexposure of Smiling Tom involved two prime factors: the advertising of gambling to kids and the risk of a stimulus for problem gambling.
Itâs hard to think of any reason why the first point should not get maximum attention. So far, it has been weakly handled by governments. The ads are to be cut back but will still be present during daylight hours. They will not impact on actual playing times but will still be seen by youngsters during breaks. Not tough enough, in my view, when they occur during general sporting programs.
The second point is largely nonsense and I will explain why shortly.
There are some related but less vital issues. Smiling Tomâs marketing strategy is technically faulty on two grounds at least. Like the vicar at the church fete, a constant grinning personage soon becomes annoying and he does it 100% of the time. It lacks sincerity. Equally, the frequency of the ads is so high it will produce the same reaction â and has done so, according to several letters to the editor.
They also divert attention from the message he wants to get across. (And, contrary to some opinions, the girl with the hacksaw voice on Tabcorpâs ads annoys me even more, although I canât understand half the stuff she spruiks, but I hear that 20 year-olds might).
Whether Smiling Tom will ever see a return on his investment is unknown. Certainly, some of his competitors in the industry donât think so, although they have not been shy in putting their names forward elsewhere. However, thatâs his problem.
The other annoying factor is a barrage of objections to any such advertising or, in fact, to any sports betting, notably from Peter Fitzsimons of the Sydney Morning Herald. He has outstayed his welcome, too. The majority of Australians do not mind an occasional bet so will find Fitzyâs rants boring (I ignore the results of his alleged surveys â such things can easily be skewed). Indeed, betting cards were being flogged around football grounds long before TV arrived. And what about chook raffles at Fitzyâs rugby union clubs?
But back to the hard figures, so far as they can be established. Thatâs not an easy task because they are often conflicting, as are the results of various surveys and research. Misinterpretation is also a hassle â as, for example, by Michael Pascoe (Business Day, SMH) who claimed that the average adult in NSW had an âastonishing … gambling habitâ to the tune of $11,778, with Victorians at $9,956. Pascoe means the total amount bet per year but to use such a figure is misleading and it is not astonishing at all.
Massive amounts go into that mix from big time punters (and bookies betting back) and, individually, not a lot from Mystery bettors, recreational weekend punters or casual gamblers in the pub. The actual losses are under $1,000 per person in both states â again, on average.
Even using that figure, many folk would consider $20 a week not as a loss, but as the cost of a bit of fun, just like going to the movies, or paying an entry fee to the football ground, neither of which will give you your money back if you guess right.
Betting figures for 2011/12 are the latest available and come from sources like the Australian Racing Board and the Australian Gaming Council. Both the commonwealth statistician and the Queensland Treasury produce official figures but they are two or three years out of date and not always meaningful in such a fast moving field.
The AGC reckons that total gambling amounted to $161.2 billion, of which $21.8 billion or 13.5% was on racing and sports. However, the ARBâs figure for racing and sports is $23.6 billion, which itself is understated because it does not includeturnover (Betfair refuses to contribute figures). The ARBâs breakdown was:
Code $b % Trend Thoroughbreds 14.4 60.9 Falling Harness 2.3 9.7 Falling Greyhounds 3.7 15.8 Rising Sports 3.2 13.6 Rising Totals 23.6 100
Either way, sports betting accounts for just under 2% of all gambling.
Take that a step further. Data on problem gamblers is also variable but it is generally considered that 70% to 80% of those affected are poker machine players. That means no more than about 25% of all problem gambling would involve racing and sports, but probably less. Therefore, sports betting alone might be responsible for perhaps 3.4% of all problem gamblers, assuming the problem was spread evenly, which is unlikely. At a guess, the real figure might be much less than half of that.
Consequently, the lobby complaining about Smiling Tomâs impact on problem gambling is addressing a tiny number at best.
None of this is to lessen the need for regulatory controls over abuses or criminal influences. As someone once said, crooks have been around since Jesus played fullback for Jerusalem. And every human activity is subject to abuses to one degree or another.
The point is that we do not need a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Responsible gambling should include responsible regulation as well. Additionally, resources would be better directed to two other areas: educating more high school seniors in maths and statistics and educating young males in the 18-35 years age group who are more inclined than others to have a punt or to get into strife doing it, so the surveys tell us. Even those who can handle their cash would benefit from that effort.
As for Smiling Tom, I doubt he is too fussed about the volume of sports business he does and, due to his huge investment in advertising, he will almost certainly lose heavily on the deal. More likely, itâs the other 98% that interests him. Thatâs where the real money is and thatâs why he places a high value on getting his name in front of the public, especially the big betting members of the public. Anyway, compared to racing, football pictures and audiences are a lot more accessible to a lot more people.
Finally, while on the advertising subject, it is disappointing to see so many raceclubs â in all three codes â accept all the dollars to change the name of their track. Sponsoring races is fine but the track name is the only brand they have, so why give it away? What will they do when the sponsor gets sick of it or goes broke?
Itâs becoming clear that Gai Waterhouse believes she is bigger than the sport itself. What a pity, as she has publicised racing well over a number of years. This quote from The Australian tells the updated story.
âAfter being found guilty, a shocked and angry Waterhouse said she expected only “a slap on the wrist” and told (Chief Steward) Murrihy, “I’m not some hick from the bush” who was unable to determine for herself a horse’s fitnessâ.
Well, apparently she canât, judging by the awful performance put up by multi-Group winner More Joyous on the day in question, and the mareâs subsequent actions back home on the Central Coast. Even more amazing is that Gai had already admitted to the crimes, but did not want to do the time. And The Man from Snowy River would not be amused either.
To an outsider, this flouncing around is far more likely to bring racing into disrepute than anything John Singleton did. And it turns out he was right anyway. The horse was crook and raced accordingly.
These Waterhouses just donât know when enough is enough. Smiling Tom had a good thing going but did not know when to stop. Over-saturation is an annoying thing in advertising. Nor did his father and grandfather, which is why they had enforced holidays, post-Fine Cotton. Still, they may be getting the idea now.
Nothing we learnt here lessens the need for stewards to take a strong leadership role, preferably independently of bureaucratic administrations.
NOT BEAUTIFUL AT ALL
I note that a couple of Queenslanders are unhappy with my ânegative commentsâ about that stateâs racing. They used social media where people can rant in a few words without bothering to support their arguments properly. Pity.
There is no need to repeat what has gone before because all the stateâs problems are painfully obvious. But there is always new evidence.
For example, in the last ten high prize money Thursday night meetings at Albion Park â the stateâs flagship â 24% of races have started without a full field and 15% were limited to maiden or novice runners. Monday meetings are even worse while the other two weekly meetings are padded out with squibsâ races over 331m, or 395m events with disruptive bend starts (which have attracted criticism from many trainers). The shortage of quality racers is clear, as is a decade of failure to do anything about it.
Or what about this experience at a country galloping meeting recently? A bookmaker was refused permission to field there even though Racing Queensland has a rule which declares all meetings should have open rings. The club got around that because another rule says a local club can restrict bookies numbers if it likes. RQ boss Kevin Dixon attended the meeting â via a fly-in on the Racing Ministerâs plane â and said it was none of his business as it was a local club matter. Extraordinary!
Recent reports on closed rings in Queensland suggest that they run with books of upwards of 160%, compared with 120% or so at open meetings.
However, Queenslandhas one good feature. It has a group of highly skilled and experienced trainers. But they need more and better stock to work with. Thatâs a management problem.
STILL A NATIONAL PROBLEM
A shortage of runners is not limited to Queensland. We have several times mentioned that Victoria has been biting off more than it can chew with all the extra racing. Maidens and higher grade races have been most affected. Overall, between 20% and 30% of races in any one week are short of a full field. City fields are also being bolstered with novice standard dogs.
However, it all came to a head last night at Ballarat when a seven-dog field (as drawn) in a Grade 3-4 race was reduced to two after scratchings. One of the remaining dogs was the well credentialled Ronan Izmir, which had been scratched from the previous afternoonâs Horsham meeting. A mistake, perhaps?
Was this just bad luck? Well, not so long ago Victorian fields were noted for the relative absence of scratchings. But that was before the rapid growth of Tier 3 and Restricted Win races.
Victoria has gone crazy in its already complex grading system. A while back we had a Geelong race restricted to dogs with 1 to 6 wins, a limit which might have covered most of the field in a nearby feature race in town. Now, the above Ballarat meeting included four heats for dogs with 1 to 4 wins â which is restrictive enough, but they also had to have had 15 or more starts.
So they wanted dogs which were not too smart but which had also been trying for some time to improve their lot. A case might well be made that those qualifications would suit many Grade 5 fields anyway, so whatâs the point? Or is it just an attempt to give average dogs and their trainers a leg up? Very communistic, you might say. Whatever it is, the proliferation of Grades in Victoria has got to a ridiculous level.
Oh, for the days when Grades were 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and thatâs it.
Following complaints lodged toSA (GRSA), Stewards are opening an inquiry into Mr. Shaun Matcottâs alleged behaviour towards Kennel attendants at Angle Park meetings. It is alleged that he used improper, insulting or offensive language towards these officials.
Therefore as a registered person he is required to be present at this inquiry which will take place at the offices ofSouth Australia, 55 Cardigan Street, Angle Park on Monday 3rd June 2013 at 6.00pm along with any witnesses that he believes may assist this inquiry.
As a result of this inquiry charges may be laid pursuant to GRSA Rules of.
He was further advised that if he does not attend this inquiry it may be held in his absence and charges may be laid pursuant to GRSA Rules of.
David Beckham is retiring at 38 years of age. His former teammate at Manchester, Ryan Giggs, is even older and still going strong. Ricky Ponting retired at 38, but only from international cricket, and half the Aussie Test team is in their thirties. So are a huge number of NFL players in America â one famous quarterback, Brett Favre, played for the Green Bay Packers and others until 40. Petero Civoneceva played for Penrith and the Broncos until 36 (and this year in the local Brisbane comp) while Dustin Fletcher is still going strong for Essendon at a year older. All famous, respected people and favourites with the fans.
In dog equivalent, these guys are 5 to 6 years old.
By comparison, those dogs in the three Veterans races at Ballarat (mentioned here the other day) averaged only 4 years and 4 months of age. And they included a few females.
Checks suggest that some veterans (not all) may lose a little of their early speed yet still retain the ability to achieve good overall times. Apart from anything else, thatâs probably a good reason to separate them from mad keen youngsters.
No doubt Victoria could do even more but it is a sad day that other states take little interest in these proven campaigners. They offer opportunities to create fresh attractions for customers and welcome outings for the dogs and their owners and trainers (giving the lie to those oddball critics who claim dogs are âforcedâ to race). Even feature events could be put on the calendar. It would be good PR.
For that matter, why is there no coursing in four popular greyhound states, especially the largest â NSW? At worst they would extend the knowledge of the breed in the public arena. At best, they would offer serious options to dogs better suited to this type of racing. There is also evidence that coursing experience can help many dogs regain their keenness for racing on the circuit.
All these things are win-win possibilities, which is more than you can say for punters trying to bet on dogs with one win in 20 or more starts, as we are asked to do today.
THE SANDOWN REPORT (CONTINUED)
And good luck to all those fans who took a silly $1.40 about Miata, returning after a 3-month injury layoff and just scraping home at Sandown last Thursday in moderate time. Perhaps they forgot to read the formguide. But will she improve next Thursday in the final, or will the second-up syndrome apply? The champ ran an honest race last week but had had enough at the post. Either way, odds-on, look on.
Incidentally, the GRV formguide failed to show Miataâs sectionals for her previous two runs at Cannington in February. If you are interested, they were 15.54 and 15.43. Lots of NSW sectionals were missing, too, although they were published earlier in GRNSW results.
Happily, Ronan Izmir showed the benefit of the run the previous week and scored in a smart 29.46. The lesser opposition helped, too. It may not have liked being hassled all the way last week.
Favourites did well, taking out six of the eleven races but the usual bolters amongst the placings resulted in four First Fours over the $1,000 mark. If they are handy into that first corner they are hard to run down, no matter their ability.
But what do you do with Xylia Allen? After a terrible start she did an amazing job to get through the field and run down top galloper Punch One Out â running away on the line, too. She will be a risk in the final but how can you leave her out?
STEWARDS DEBATE WORTHWHILE
Discussion of the need for a national stewards organisation may or may not lead anywhere but it does bring up comparisons with other fields of activity. Some legislated functions have been ânationalisedâ, some have not, many are mooted and Federal-state relations are often strained as a result.
However, the classic case is that of aviation, where decades ago the states ceded control to the commonwealth, mostly because of the need for operational consistency. Technicalities are controlled from Canberra with branches in every state and territory. That recognises that supervision of pilots and mechanics (trainers and jockeys?), of landing strips (racetracks), of aircraft performance (fitness of horses and dogs), of flight navigation (conduct of races) and of the task of aeronautical engineering (veterinarians) are all matters which demands highly skilled, independent oversight and a good deal of technical research and innovation. In both cases the job is getting more complex every year, requiring large lumps of backup staff and systems and the global exchange of information. All that is why flying is the safest way to travel.
None of that affects the stateâs right to handle the economic regulation of local air routes, should it wish to do so, just as local allocation of race dates and prize money caters for special, regional needs. Even so, racing recognises a need for national co-ordination of start times and the like, albeit that is under the wing of Tabcorp and its SKY offshoot. Somebody has to do it, I suppose.
It is hard to think of any negatives in the nationalisation of stewards but there are certainly a lot of positives, notably in the value that customers would place on consistent and equitable treatment.
State authorities may huff and puff on this, wanting to hang on to their empires. Still, that may be another reason why it should happen. It bears serious consideration.
So far the Singleton-Waterhouse saga amounts to a rap over the knuckles to each and son Tom the bookmaker being told to be careful.
But will the most important question remain unanswered? Why did a horse compete when obviously not fit, even though it was declared fit by the trainer and two vets, one of whom was independent of the trainer? Remember that the stewards got involved initially because of the fracas between the owner and the trainer, not because of the horseâs performance. The alleged illness issue only followed on from that.
So the experts decided on fitness but who supervises the experts? The only answer to that is the stewards. Thatâs their job. Yet, although they have since noted the paperwork failures, the RNSW stewards have so far stopped short of delving further into that conundrum. The public, particularly those who lost money on the deal, will not be happy with that.
In contrast, it brings to mind a very public spat in Victoria when stewards pulled a horse out of the Melbourne Cup, on the advice of their own vet, despite meeting furious objections from the trainer, David Hayes. It all revolved around the interpretation of the state of the horseâs hoof. But where there was doubt, the stewards acted in the interests of the racing public â correctly so. This would suggest that, in Sydney, if the stewards were not previously aware of hassles with a well-backed horse, then they certainly should have been immediately after the race and acted appropriately.
On the other hand, consistency is hard to find. The same Victorian stewards got no applause for their slow and arguably lenient handling of the Damien Oliver case, which involved possibly the worst sin of all â a jockey not only betting but betting on a horse competing in the same race. Very confusing.
Greyhound stewards, from state to state, are prone to apply different penalties for similar drug offences. Nor have they really acknowledged the problem of minute traces of substances emerging from public feed sources, as has occurred at the gallops. Dogs racing with chronic injuries also appears to be a non-subject.
Acting as a steward is not a simple task. They have to be part policeman, part prosecutor, part judge, part track manager, part father figure, part animal expert, part weather forecaster, part veterinarian, part ombudsman and part public advocate. A big problem in doing that is that they have to report to and are instructed by state authorities, who may or may not have exactly the same interests. Stewards are not genuinely independent, although some may claim that is so. Witness, for example, the noisy public statements coming from the RNSW CEO on the Waterhouse case. Note also that stewards do not issue licences, although they may cancel them, thereby removing the right to work of the offender. Thatâs serious stuff.
In a perfect world, it might work like parliament and the judiciary, where one sets up laws and the other rules on them, and each is deliberately kept separate from the other. But then, who would hold stewards responsible for their actions? You canât hire and fire judges willy nilly, so the law itself is their real master. Thatâs not so in racing.
For that matter, nobody short of parliament holds racing authorities responsible for what they do. Arguably, that supervision is very light indeed. There are laws about who has what power and what their limits are, but nothing specific about how well or how efficiently they go about their business. Ministers are much happier just handing out prizes at feature events. Itâs all very subjective and not remotely like the hoops that public companies have to jump through in the course of their daily business.
And board members are liable to change with the colour of government, further ensuring a short term approach to business in an industry which desperately needs vision and planning, and which is simpatico with what is going on in the big world. Shareholders, or stakeholders as many like to term them, donât get much of a look-in. Racing authoritiesâ reports to the public tend to be waffly and self-serving. Financial figures are hard to fathom for non-experts, while statements and media releases concentrate on good news items alone. Survival gets more prominent treatment than progress or a good return on assets.
However, the more puzzling matter is that rules vary from state to state, without apparent reason other than that thatâs the way the individual bosses like to have them. As with the above stewards example, one lot can be tougher than another, and abuses are not uncommon (see article âItâs Time, Comradesâ, May 9). Indeed, the current disputes and inquiries in Queensland are likely to go on for some months yet.
All of which make a case for two changes: first, we should have a national stewards organisation where justice is done, and seen to be done, consistently. Second, a racing commission for each code is needed to oversee everything, including the stewards, to better satisfy the public wish for consistency and transparency – a bit like the Federal Police and the High Court, if you like. Both can still be responsible to the Racing Ministers Council but on predetermined terms and conditions. Perform or suffer the consequences!
This would be a vast improvement on the relatively powerless national bodies we have today. Their brief extends to not much more than racing rules, yet each state still implements its own variations on those.
In company with that responsibility, stewards may need more and broader authority, greater training and tighter pre-qualifications â again, a bit like appointees to the High Court. So be it. Theirs is a critical job.
The underlying issues are twofold. Horses and dogs are not interested in state borders, which they cross more often than grey nomads, while todayâs punters no longer need to be on the racecourse, or even in the same country. And racingâs organisational structures belong in the dim, dark ages when owners wore top hats, trainers and jockeys knew their place, and the public were allowed in on sufferance.
State jealousies would need to be put aside, of course, but such reform need not interfere with the local income streams which both governments and racing codes need so badly. In fact, they would be likely to improve by recapturing some of the market lost to poker machines palaces and casinos.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, is more important to a greyhound race than how the dogs handle the first 100m. That sets up the entire race. It provides all the flavour. And the only way to predict that part of the race is by checking first sectional times.
But, apparently, neither clubs nor state authorities are convinced. One of the big worries is that those authorities are not talking nicely to each other â or at least not about form.
Just looking through last Saturdayâs GRV form for The Meadows it was noticeable that at least eight dogs with interstate form were missing sectional times – Lucky Iâm Black, Iona Seven, Gotta Be Fancy, Magnum Blast, Dark Assassin, and Abacus Bale from NSW, Dashing Man from Queensland and Maddison Dee with SA form.
These were not cases where they had no sectional times to start with. The problem was that the times did not move interstate with them.
Punters might also have looked thru the GRNSW formguide for Bulli on Monday night. It contained what looked like helpful âspeed mapsâ, suggesting where dogs would be positioned soon after the jump. Yet if you perused the form for individual dogs you would find that more than half their runs contained no sectional times at all. So how did they construct those nice looking maps? Very mysterious.
Official Queensland form contains lots of runs from the Northern Rivers tracks yet not a single one of those will show a sectional time. None. Zilch. Some are not recorded, of course, but many are. On top of that, Ipswich sectionals are also highly erratic â sometimes you get them, sometimes you donât.
SA is also a problem as many dogs nip over the border to Horsham and Warrnambool from Mount Gambier and other provincial tracks, mostly without any sectional times.
If you look around Australia, only Victoria makes any serious attempt to provide a complete coverage of all sectional performances. Even then, the Victorian data has quite a few holes in it, usually because the home club just did not get around to it.
The others, except for Tasmania, are fine for city tracks but not so fussed about provincial meetings. A few of the latter are good but the vast majority offer only a leaderâs time at best. However, Tasmania, which provides only leaderâs times everywhere, does recognise the need and is now busy planning upgraded timing systems. The state has already brought in a new computerised system for the gallops, using GPS locators on saddlecloths.
Still, having good times at home is just half the battle. You have to tell everyone else as well.
To make room for the extra work, can I suggest authorities start paying less attention to 2nd sectionals and run-home times, both of which are of no use in picking future winners. Extensive statistical testing shows they offer no benefit and the dog responsible for the run-home time is often unknown anyway. Such times are useful for horses but not for dogs which go flat out from the start.
As an adjunct to any improvement program, we could use an Australian standard for producing running numbers (which also need to shift interstate). Currently, the practice varies from track to track. At Wentworth Park, for example, the first set of numbers covers the order in which runners poke their noses out of the box. That falls under the heading of useless information.
SEE NO EVIL …
The Singleton-Waterhouse fracas at Randwick on the weekend had its source in the disclosure of an injury to the well-fancied More Joyous. Thoroughbred racing rules say the stewards should hear about that while trainer Gai Waterhouse says it wasnât really necessary. The bit about what bookmaker Tom Waterhouse knew or said is another, and possibly more serious, subject which will get sorted out later on.
has the same rule but it is hard to remember the last time the stewards, and through them the public, heard any such news. Or, if they did, just how would stewards pass it on. 99% of greyhound fans donât go near the track and itâs hard to get a word in edgewise in the crowded SKY program. Punters even get on-air for feature meetings only as the dogs are going into the boxes. Not much use then.
A reliable system is needed.
Itâs pretty reasonable to expect that any athlete â equine, canine or human – will suffer from niggles or worse during the course of a campaign. With humans, from Michael Clarkeâs back to Benji Marshallâs foot or any number of AFL knees, you will get chapter and verse in the newspapers and on TV. With horses, that news is fairly regular, even to the stage of arguments between stewards and trainers. In that case, stewards often exercise their right to send in their own vet to check out the horse. With dogs, almost none of this happens, perhaps excepting something affecting a champion racer with a significant injury requiring it to be scratched from an upcoming event â Miata in Melbourne comes to mind.
More often, if it appears at all, such news appears after the event, or even after a retirement, and then from the trainer himself in a media interview. There are instances of a couple of prominent stayers and a Golden Easter Egg winner where we heard well after the event about injuries and illnesses which had to be overcome to get the dog to the starting line. Some such problems might have been evident to an experienced observer during the running of the race, yet he would still be guessing. Nothing from the stewards, though, so we can assume they knew no more than the punters.
Whatâs the purpose of the rule if no-one follows it or polices it?
Finally, a close cousin to the injury question is the dog which is backing up very quickly after a hard race, sometimes with substantial travel in between. The quick check at weighing-in time is unlikely to tell us how the dog feels so the money goes on regardless and the dog often fails to live up to expectations. A couple of recent top stakes winners remind you of this conundrum. Here there is no rule, but there should be.
The gallops inquiry may set up interesting precedents.
NSW (GRNSW) Stewards on Tuesday 9 April concluded an inquiry into the analystâs reports that the urine sample taken from Uno Knocka after that greyhound had won Race 10, the TAB.com.au Stakes at Wentworth Park on 23 November 2012 had been analysed and found to contain the prohibited substance Sildenafil.
Evidence was taken from trainer Peter Cohen and Dr Adam Cawley from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL). Written evidence was entered from Dr Craig Suann, the ARFL Senior Veterinarian, and GRNSW Steward Terry Hynes.
Mr Cohen pleaded guilty to a charge under GAR 83 (2) (a) in that he presented Uno Knocka for the race in question other than free of a prohibited substance in that the urine sample taken from the greyhound was found to contain Sildenafil. Sildafenil is better known by its its brand name, Viagra.
Mr Cohen offered to Stewards that he had purchased a powder from a local supplier believing it to be an all natural herbal product and not containing any prohibited substances, and assumed this was the source of the positive sample.
Mr Cohen was suspended for a period of four months. In determining penalty Stewards took into consideration Mr Cohenâs guilty plea, his 24 year unblemished period of registration, his forthrightness throughout the inquiry, and his culpability in purchasing a non-branded product from an unregistered supplier.
Under GAR 83(4) Uno Knocka was disqualified from this event and the placings amended accordingly.
NSW (GRNSW) advises that due to the failure of trainer David Righetti to appear at the resumption of the Stewards inquiries into analysts reports of the finding of amphetamine in urine samples taken from Exclusive One at Maitland in April 2012 and Cookieâs Recipe at Wentworth Park in August 2012, the inquiries have been adjourned to a date to be fixed.
Acting under the provisions of GAR 92 (5), GRNSW has suspended Mr Righettiâs licence to train pending the resumption of the inquiries.
So called experts, incompetent stewards, and backward leaders, unfortunately stand at the helm of our sinking ship.
In my opinion, only Victoria are doing things the right way. It’s a little hard to be critical of our so called experts, as I expect most of them are great people, but you shouldn’t be labeled an expert if in fact you’re an amateur.
For example, resident greyhound expert and weekly commentator Peter Davis is not immune to the odd error when commentating on greyhound meetings. Now he’s not alone and Simone Fisher has been know to do the same, and I’m sure most, if not all of the experts make mistakes. No one is perfect and I’m sure we would all be prone to the odd error in the same pressure situation in front of the camera, but how do we trust these people when they can barely get the basics right?
Last night Peter Davis made two blatant errors that I’m aware of.
He labelled Group 1 winner and top flight stayer Proven Impala a male dog. How can a “expert greyhound commentator” label one of the country’s best, as the opposite sex? Surely he’s aware he won’t be able to use Proven Impala over one of his bitches – isn’t he?
His second mistake was picked up by a friend of mine who knows nothing about the game and has only been introduced too it 2 weeks ago.
During Peter’s race preview he referred to Dyna Daina, as Dyna Dianna – who? Surely he had to have read the names of the runners too when making his selections; or is he merely reading lines from a piece of paper written by someone else. He must be! Peter is regarded as a greyhound expert and it’s not the first time he’s made errors.
Let me give you the definition of an expert:
Expert: A person who has extensive skill or knowledge in a particular field.
Calling a Group 1 winner a male when infact she is a female, and calling a dog Dyna Dianna instead of her correct name Dyna Daina, isn’t conducive to the the label of “expert” in the strict sense of the accepted definition.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one forced to go scrambling for the form guide to make sure I had backed the right runners after our on-air commentator had spruiked the wrong information.
Surely our experts can get the basics right, can’t they?
All to often commentators and race callers make obvious errors. If the on-air “talent” has no knowledge or even little knowledge of what their talking about, then why don’t the decision makers employ people who do?
Now I know Peter is passionate about the game and does a lot of good forbut last night’s performance was not at all good enough for nationally televised coverage of our great sport.
Now lets move on to the Stewards. What were they thinking when they declared race 5 at Dapto a No Race?
Camouflage Model pinged out and landed straight on the bunny and was never headed. How on earth can the boxes opening prematurely affect the outcome of the race when the leading dog was always in front? At no stage did she stop chasing, at no stage did she lunge at the lure and lose momentum. The entire field were left chasing the leader and it mattered little that the boxes opened early.
I’m at a loss to work out how it affected the outcome. Someone please explain why common sense is not applied to certain situations.
Does the reason behind such decisions lie in the fact that many of our greyhound stewards have little or no real world greyhound knowledge and have come straight out of university or from some other unrelated industry?
We see it time and time again – poor decisions made by stewards. Lets take for example the dog who fell and crossed the line in fourth position but was later stripped of its correct placing by GRV stewards before corrected weight was announced. It’s total madness.
Surely we’re all frustrated and fed up with silly errors being made by our so called experts? I know I am.
If they can’t get the basics right, how can we trust them to carry our industry forward. Either shape up or ship out.
On 21st November 2012 Stewards informed Mr. Michele Famiglietti by hand delivered letter that the greyhound Voo Doo Tewin had shown the presence of Amphetamine from the urine sample taken at theSA meeting held at Gawler on Tuesday 9th October, and that the greyhound Miss Lily Rose had shown the presence of Amphetamine from the urine sample taken at the SA meeting held at Angle Park on Thursday 11th October and that he would be advised of the date, time and place of an inquiry.
The reserve portions of the urine samples were tested and the presence of AMPHETAMINE was confirmed.
Mr Famiglietti was advised of the analysts results on Wednesday 12th December 2012 and is required to attend an inquiry at the offices ofSouth Australia Limited, 55 Cardigan Street, Angle Park on Monday 21st January 2013 at 11.00am, together with any witnesses that may assist for an inquiry by the Stewards into the circumstances relating to the obtaining of the positive urine samples.
The inquiry commenced on Tuesday 5th February 2013 due to Mr. Famiglietti failing to attend on Monday 21st January 2013. At which time Mr. Famiglietti applied to the stewards to have Mr. Brian Deegan attend the inquiry as his legal representative. Stewards approved the request.
After taking evidence from Mr. David Batty (Laboratory Director Racing Analytical Services Limited) and Mr. Famiglietti stewards were of the opinion that there was sufficient evidence to charge Mr. Famiglietti with breaches of the GRSA Rules OfR83 which reads:
R83 Racing greyhound to be free of prohibited substances
(2) The owner, trainer or person in charge of a greyhound-
(a) nominated to compete in an Event;
(b) presented for a satisfactory, weight or whelping trial or such other trial as provided for pursuant to these Rules; or
(c) presented for any test or examination for the purpose of a period of incapacitation or prohibition being varied or revoked
shall present the greyhound free of any prohibited substance.
(3) The owner, trainer or person in charge of a greyhound presented contrary to sub-rule (2) shall be guilty of an offence.
(4) A greyhound presented for an Event contrary to sub-rules (1) or (2) shall be disqualified from the Event or any benefit derived from a trial or test.
Mr. Famiglietti pleaded not guilty to the charges and Mr. Deegan requested an adjournment. The inquiry was adjourned until 2.15pm on Tuesday 19 February 2013. A further adjournment was given until Wednesday 27 March 2013 at 10.00am.
On Wednesday 27 March 2013 stewards took further evidence from Mr Famiglietti and submissions from Mr Deegan, subsequently Mr Famiglietti was found guilty of both charges previously laid. After taking into consideration submissions on penalty, Mr Famiglietti was disqualified for a period of eighteen months on the first charge, and disqualified for 2 years on the second charge. Both penalties are to be served concurrently, and will come into effect Midnight Wednesday the 3rd April 2013.
Stewards acting under GAR rule 83(4) disqualified Voo Doo Tewin as the winner of the Pets Tucker Stakes Division 2 run at Gawler on the 9th October 2012 resulting in the amended placings.
1 DYNA BERTA
3 TERMINATOR GUNN
Stewards acting under GAR rule 83(4) disqualified Miss Lilly Rose as the winner of the Sky Racing Stakes run at Angle Park on the 11th October 2012 resulting in the amended placings.
1 LUCYâS MOMENT
2 CAWBOURNE JET
3 BUSTED BIRD
4 CAREY BALE
NSW (GRNSW) Stewards concluded an inquiry into analystâs reports that the urine samples taken from Lagoon Lowanna after that greyhound had won Race 10 the Tooheyâs Old Heat 4 at Dapto on 19 April 2012 and Race 9 the Hotham Body Repairs at Wentworth Park on 26 May 2012 had been analysed and found to contain the prohibited substances Nandrolone, 19-norepiandrosterone and 19-noretiocholanolone.
Evidence was taken from trainer Raymond Webster, the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratoryâs (ARFL) Dr Adam Cawley and GRNSW Integrity Officer Wayne Billett. Written evidence was entered from the ARFLâs Dr Craig Suann the Manager Analytical Services at the Racing Science Centre Queensland Mark Jarrett and Rossmore Veterinary Clinic.
Mr Webster pleaded guilty to two separate charges under GAR 83(2) in that he had been responsible for the presentation of Lagoon Lowanna for the races in question other than free of a prohibited substance in that the urine samples taken from the greyhound were found to contain Nandrolone and its two metabolites.
Mr Webster could not enlighten the Stewards as to how the prohibited substances were found to be contained within the urine sample taken from Lagoon Lowanna other than to offer than it may have been contained in the meat fed to the greyhound.
Mr Webster was disqualified for a period of four months and fined $1,500 for each of the two charges, which are to be served concurrently.
In determining penalty Stewards took into consideration the GRNSW Penalty Guidelines, Mr Websterâs unblemished record in the industry over a period of 11 years as a licensed trainer in which time many of his greyhounds had been sampled, his personal circumstances being that he is a public trainer with approximately 30 greyhounds in his care, the guilty pleas entered by Mr Webster and the personal references supplied to Stewards on behalf of Mr Webster from Ray Brown (Elders Real Estate Camden), Paul Mack (Secretary Manager Dapto A & H Society and DaptoClub) and Mick Player (Camden Branch GBOTA/Deadwood Lodge). Penalties for breaches of this rule involving similar substances were also considered.
Under GAR 83(4) Lagoon Lowanna was disqualified from both events and the placings were amended accordingly.
Mr Webster has lodged an appeal against the decision and a stay of proceedings has been granted until such time as the appeal is heard.
For those of you who follow our selections, or are thinking about following them, here are our results from yesterday.
We gave you guys 6 selections, and and also selected the quadrellla, here are the results.
Overall a very successful, night with two legs of the quaddide also saluting, at great odds.
Ipswich Greyhounds, Race 8 Box 1 Rylee’s Ebony. 5.23 pm QLD time
This bloke was our on top selection on Tuesday, from a bad box, box 5 he finished second. Today he has come up with the rails and looks unbeatable. He’s going to be short, but he’s going to be better than bank interest. He is absolutely flying this dog and its going to take a might effort to hold him out in this best 8 field today. He has a PB of 25.01 and i wont be surprised to see him run right up to that PB, given the right track condition. Rylee’s Ebony has been a model of consistency, in his last 3 starts since a spell and bad luck shouldn’t beat this bloke today. Best Bet.
Casino Greyhounds, Race 12 Box 2, Gitcha Money On 3.43 pm Nsw time
Sometimes it pays to have a remarkable memory, when trying to find that elusive winner. At times you often hear or see something and file it away for a later date. Well Gitcha Money On is that memory. A run of bad boxes and little luck, have seen this bloke fail quite often of late. I remember seeing him one day at Casino, when he put in a fantastic run coming from a long way back to fill a place, and his owner/trainer was also in praise of the Mogambo youngster. Today he has drawn near perfect in box 2 and if he performs at his best he will give this a mighty shake. He has a motor, and I’m sure this bloke is going to win many a race, once he kick starts the ball rolling. He should be in the leading division today, or with his best jump lead this race. He’s quite capable of running near to 23.00 dead, and he certainly gets his chance today in this week field. Each Way Bet.
Wentworth Park Greyhounds, Race 1 Box 2 Zippy Hand, 7.19 pm Nsw time
Well we are all aware of the thrashing National Futurity Winner, Sometimes Speddy will give these, but Zippy Hand is box extremely well to follow the 2 Jason Mckay runners and fill that 3rd position. She’s a mad railer and will get the perfect sit in behind the the favourite pair. She only needs to hold her position, and the outside division off early and i have no doubt she can fill the whole for 3rd. I guess I’ve unintentionally given you the Trifecta here, but Zippy Hand is strictly a place bet, and with the right run she should do her job. Place Bet only.
The Gardens, Race 2 Box 3 Kristen Robbo, 4.18 pm Nsw time
This girl owes me quite a lot, it may be foolish of me to select a maiden dog that seems to always find a way too get beat, but a win can’t be far off for the daughter of Bit Chilli. Poor decisions and slow beginnings have been the reason she is yet to win her maiden. She has the ability, and threatened many times, only to come up short. She has joined a new kennel and im hoping this may be the recipe she needs to finally win her maiden. She’s only an average beginner but winds up mid race, and from box 3 she will get her chance to stay out of early trouble and make her run rounding the home turn. When she puts it all together, there’s no doubt she will win. Lets hope todays the day. Each Way Bet
Geelong Greyhounds, Race 7 Box 8 Allen Benji. 9.08 pm Vic time
4 starts ago Allen Benji, gave the group 1 Hobart thousand winner, Blackall’s Boss a galloping lesson at Bendigo. In a small field he began brilliantly and was never ever in doubt racing away winning in a flying 23.63. This dog has a huge motor and has been unlucky not to have one more feature races. He probably doesn’t get the respect he deserves and he looks might hard to beat in this race tonight. He has a great record from box 8 and only needs a safe beginning to show his burn. His own PB is slightly below most of the field, but if this blokes comes out running, he will no doubt run the fastest PB of these. He has to contend with a quality line up but has had to do that his whole career. If he jumps the others will have a huge job to pick him up.
Well hopefully we have found a few winners for you, and we all look forward to tomorrow nights racing, at the Meadows, with the running of the Super Stayers. and the Group 1 Australian Cup.
Miata faces her toughest test, and no doubt it will be a race that the greyhound public wont want to miss. Can the Mighty Bitch from W.A do it? Only time will tell.
Best Of Luck
$$ Another day Another Dollar $$
The Strathalbyn greyhound meeting scheduled for Sunday 24 February was abandoned at approximately 12:35pm, after the kennelling process had commenced, due to the state of the track. It was deemed by the GRSA Stewards in attendance at the meeting that the surface was unsafe for racing. The meeting was being run as part of a dual code promotion with the Strathalbyn Harness Racing Club.
The Club experienced a number of difficulties with the Contractor in relation to a routine top-up of the track. The wrong mix of sand was initially applied to the track and then the running rail was damaged in the process of administering the top-up.
GRSA staff and Club Committee had worked through the week to address these issues and, by Friday, were satisfied that the rail problem had been fixed and that the track surface was in readiness for the Sunday meeting. Despite having continued to apply water to the surface during the Saturday in response to difficult weather conditions, the Track Curator took additional measures on the Sunday morning to address what he perceived as excessive firmness on the surface of the track. That maintenance process led to unforeseen complications which, in turn, rendered the track condition unsuitable for racing, despite considerable efforts being made to address the problems in time for the meeting.
It is normally GRSAâs policy to withhold stakemoney for any abandoned races within a meeting that hasnât progressed beyond the half-way point. Under the circumstances, however, this would clearly not represent a reasonable outcome for participants.
GRSA has made the decision to allocate stakemoney for the abandoned meeting with prizemoney being distributed evenly between runners in all races for the meeting. Furthermore, an additional one-off special payment of $100 will be made to trainers who had to travel a significant distance to attend the meeting.
The payment will be premised upon the location of the registered kennels of any runner engaged for this meeting for trainers who had to travel 250 kilometres or more (round-trip) to compete. These payments are in addition to the normal travel rebate that would apply to Sunday racing at Strathalbyn.
The issues affecting the quality of the racing surface at Strathalbyn will be addressed as a high operational priority and participants will be updated accordingly once more is known about any impact on future trialling and racing dates. The events that contributed to this outcome will be thoroughly reviewed for future application.
GRSA regrets the inconvenience and frustration that this incident will have caused participants.
NSW (GRNSW) Stewards concluded an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of the greyhound Bit Onek at the kennels of licensed owner/trainer Robert Tisdell, as well as Mr Tisdellâs failure to notify GRNSW of the death within the defined time frame.
Written and oral evidence was taken from Kayla Spliet, GRNSW Veterinary Surgeon Dr John Newell and GRNSW Steward Craig Pringle, along with submissions from Grant Dunphy and Mr Tisdell.
The incident centred around the trialling of Bit Onek on the evening of 7 January 2013 at The Gardens followed by trialling and extended kennelling in extreme heat at Keinbah on the morning of 8 January 2013.
On being made aware of this alleged set of circumstances, GRNSW Stewards directed Mr Tisdell to present Bit Onek for examination at the Maitland track on 10 January 2013. The examination by Dr Newell established Bit Onek to be suffering clinical dehydration, inflamed kidneys and poor oxygenation. Mr Tisdell was instructed by Dr Newell to seek urgent veterinary attention for Bit Onek, which Mr Tisdell ignored. Bit Onek was found deceased in his kennel that evening by Mr Tisdell.
Subsequently, Mr Tisdell pleaded guilty to a charge under GAR 106 (1) (d) for failing to provide veterinary care to a greyhound when necessary. In respect of this charge Mr Tisdell was disqualified for a period of 12 months, to expire at midnight on 13 February 2014.
Mr Tisdell was further found guilty of a charge under GAR 106 (2) for failing to take the necessary steps to prevent a greyhound under his care from being subjected to unnecessary pain or suffering. In respect of this charge, Mr Tisdell was disqualified for a further period of 12 months, to be served cumulatively with the penalty issued under GAR 106 (1) (d) and to expire at midnight on 13 February 2015.
He was reprimanded regarding a breach of GAR 106 (3) for failing to adhere to the provision requiring notification of the passing of a greyhound in his care by the prescribed time.
In determining penalty Stewards took into consideration Dr Newellâs evidence that the death of Bit Onek could have been prevented had Mr Tisdell sought veterinary attention as instructed, the likelihood that Bit Onek was subjected to unnecessary pain and suffering prior to death, the serious nature of the charges and GRNSWâs strong stance in regards to animal welfare matters.