Straight tracks with less runners could be the keys to reducing severe greyhound injuries, according to a new report, and Gunnedah club president Geoff Rose agrees.
The 254-page first phase of the watershed report, which was handed down last Thursday, was commissioned by Greyhound Racing NSW and carried out by the University of Technology Sydney.
It recommended 11 sweeping changes to reduce the amount of “catastrophic” injuries and racing resulting in deaths, and Mr Rose believes the industry has no choice but to listen and adapt.
“You can’t argue with safety, and we can’t continue to do things that are not acceptable in society,” Mr Rose said.
Mr Rose also serves as president of the Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association, which owns and operates several NSW tracks, including Gunnedah and Wentworth Park.
They are already in the process of negotiating a return to straight track racing at their Appen sight, which closed in recent times due to being financially unviable without TAB races.
A similar Victorian club, Healesville, “operate a very good straight track.”
“Every track can’t go straight because not every dog likes straight racing, and not many clubs have that land, but we have got to have that mix” Mr Rose said.
“Maybe we need a straight track in this area – maybe Tamworth and Gunnedah could go into a partnership – we have to look at what is best for the industry, but we have to have the funding – to buy and set a track up like that would cost around $4 or $5 million.”
The report shed a very poor light on the Tamworth club, naming it as the deadliest in the state with 8.2 on course deaths per 1000 starters last year compared to Gunnedah’s 2.1.
While TGRC president Robert Munn disputes those findings, both presidents do agree that GRNSW are considering a reduction in the number of clubs from the current 32.
“They (GRNSW) are definitely looking at the footprint of the industry,” Mr Rose said.
“The recommendation could be to go to 22 tracks or 12 tracks – I don’t know, but they are definitely looking at what is viable and what is best for animal welfare.”
Gunnedah has recently been awarded 13 TAB race dates, while the four tracks with the highest rates of mortality per starter, Tamworth, Coonamble, Tweed and Coonabarabran are all non- TAB tracks.
“The report on Gunnedah was fair, I would like to see no catastrophic injuries, but this is a sport, and in all sports there are injuries. We just need to work hard to reduce them to an absolute minimum,” Mr Rose said.