COMMENTS by GOBATA vice-chairman Charlie Lister in today’s Racing Post echo views expressed to GOBATA by many trainers during the course of this year. Nobody has yet explained why tracks are being dug up at such a rate. The fact that all this work is being done by the same company raises legitimate questions concerning the integrity of the tendering and payment process.

Failure to address the issue will result in allegations of corruption at the highest level of the sport, made worse by the fact that the welfare of greyhounds is possibly being compromised.

The fact that a main board director has a declared interest in SSS, the company at the centre of this controversy, is not an issue. What is important is that all dealings with SSS are fully transparent, accountable and forensically audited. It is unacceptable that this work is the prerogative of any one individual and being carried out by a company with no history outside of having done a good job at Kinsley.

The refusal of promoters to share injury statistics with owners and trainers, far less collate them, to establish trends or otherwise, shows a flagrant disregard for the welfare of dogs and flies in the face of the duty of care imposed on the entire industry by legislation.
 
 
The first AGM of the GTA under the new chairman Ricky Holloway took place last night, Wednesday 29th August 2012, at Coventry Stadium at a well-attended meeting.

The meeting unanimously expressed a vote of no confidence in the current Practitioner Director of the GBGB, Mr John Haynes and instructed Holloway to write to the Board withdrawing support for Mr Haynes. There was also a unanimous view that grants to promoters for use in commercial upkeep and capital expenditure should cease and all such funding should be confined to improvements on track safety and welfare of the dogs and, any monies left over should be put to prize money. In another Holloway initiative and as per his manifesto the meeting agreed to open membership of the GTA to all greyhound trainers.

Holloway said: “This was a huge step forward for the industry. The members made it clear to me that they were determined to get an adequate commercial return for their product. We supply this industry with a product and we have never been adequately recompensed nor is there any negotiation process which protects the welfare of the racing greyhound.”

 
 
CRITICISM of the Wimbledon management to extend the pick-up point at Plough Lane continues to gather momentum and the latest trainer to take a swipe at what he calls a “pointless and ridiculous” thing to do is up and coming handler, Dean Childs.

“As as far as I’m concerned it’s utter madness,” says Childs, “the Wimbledon management are subjecting greyhounds to run not so much over the Derby trip of 480 metres but more like 680 metres but didn’t anyone tell them these are not staying dogs?

“I speak from experience at Wimbledon last week when I had seven dogs running in the Derby and all came off very tired. True, this was partly due to the heavy going but the unnecessary long run to the ‘new’ pick up had a lot to do with it.

“A greyhound doesn’t know where the winning line is so he will run just as fast after the line as he would in the race itself but, as middle distance dogs, they don’t have much left in the staying department and this absurd long run to the pick up is detrimental to the dogs and their welfare.”

Childs’ views on the matter are shared by leading trainers Dolores Ruth, Charlie Lister OBE and Nick Savva, all of whom have publicly slammed the distance to the new drop. Miss Ruth said here a month ago that the extra distance the dogs are now asked to travel “tears the guts out of a greyhound.”

Childs, whose kennels are at Ockendon near Upminster in Essex, is saddened by the fact that, to the best of his knowledge, no trainer was ever consulted by Wimbledon over the contentious re-siting of the pick up.

“It’s a disgrace, after all us trainers are the ones who know our dogs and can easily spot if they have over-exerted themselves and this is happening at Wimbledon,” Childs continued. “Trainers are the ones who should be listened to instead of having this foisted upon us as a fait accompli! It’s all wrong and all so unnecessary.

“Did Wimbledon, I wonder, consider the possibility of the risk of injury to the dogs by running them further than really they are capable of running? After all we are talking middle distance dogs here, not Scurlogue Champs!

“I dread to think how exhausted the dogs will be when we get to the stage of three Derby runs in a week to the extended pick up, especially if the going is heavy again. It will particularly affect the short runners who gasp for air over 480 metres! It’s all wrong.”

On a happy note, Childs has six of his original seven Derby entries still standing their ground at Wimbledon. Whether they will be able to stand if the ground comes up heavy again this weekend remains to be seen!

“They should stop the hare as soon as they can after the line, in fact the sooner the better. Running to the new pick up runs all kinds of risks, injury, exhaustion and a greyhound is more liable to play or fight if the hare is whipped away and the dogs are left with virtually nothing to chase.”

 
 
Rules are getting stupid says Soppitt....  

TED SOPPITT doesn’t - and never did - beat about the bush when it comes to voicing his opinion on the sport and, like Charlie Lister, is highly critical of the GBGB’s recent directive that trainers must no longer administer electrolytes to greyhounds in racing kennels and paddocks.

“God almighty, what harm can it do to use electrolytes on a warm day, I use them and will continue to use them, they are essential for a racing greyhound. It is us trainers who know the needs of our greyhounds not someone sitting behind a desk playing with the rules,” he blasted.

 
 
THE GBGB have appointed trainer Lorraine Sams as South Eastern Area Stipendiary Steward and it is anticipated that she will take up duties in early October. 

She takes over from Duncan Gibson, who was recently elevated to the position of Manager Of Welfare and Integrity Services at headquarters. 

Miss Sams has been a successful trainer for many years but will relinquish her licence shortly, although she will continue to be based at her Claverhambury kennels at Waltham Abbey in Essex.

Her most high profile runner was the stayer Spiridon Louis, who had a glorious spell back in 2007 when his wins included the St Leger, TV Trophy and Dorando Marathon, victories which earned him the Greyhound of the Year title.

News of her new vocation with the GBGB has been welcomed by trainers, with one in particular stating that it is “an excellent appointment.”

 
 
...including £1m for graded competitions at all GBGB tracks... 

ALL 25 GBGB tracks will share a £1m prizemoney bonanza in a series of graded competitions to be staged over the next 15 months. 

The announcement came earlier this week from BGRF chairman Tom Kelly, who says competitions will be staged from October 1 this year round to December 30 next year and be based on the successful BAGS/SIS blueprint.

There will be 26 such events at each track carrying prizemoney in the finals of £500 to the winner and also rans £100 each. And the good news is that trainers have not been overlooked, they will receive £100 for fielding each winning finalist!
 
 
Acclaimed nutrition expert to visit Dunham Greyhound Centre next week... 

JOHN KOHNKE, widely acclaimed throughout the world as one of the leading authorities on the greyhound breed, is to visit the Dunham Greyhound Centre on Wednesday, 24 August and proprietors Dave and Jane Houfton have
extended an open invitation to owners, trainers and enthusiasts from 12.30pm onwards. 

Kohnke, who for many years worked as a greyhound vet at tracks around the Sydney area, has been a regular contributor to the Greyhound Star for 27 years and written a number of books, published worldwide, on the care and
nutrition of greyhounds. 

He has given more than 500 greyhound seminars all over the world and is generally considered the number one authority on nutrition. Visitors to the Dunham Centre next week will be invited to put questions to Khonke, an opportunity that should not be missed.

For details and location of the Dunham Greyhound Centre, which is not far from Charlie Lister’s kennels at Newark, go to dunhamgreyhoundcentre.co.uk.
 
 
“I am really struggling to survive,” says Ten Large Down’s trainer... 

AS one trainer will wallow in Derby glory at Wimbledon on Saturday so another is contemplating her future in greyhound racing, such is the current state of the industry. 

Like many of her counterparts, Diane Henry is, and has been for some time, struggling with the increasing costs of running a kennel with precious little income from anywhere else, least of all, or rather none at all, from the industry.

“Word is going around that I’m quitting the game straight away, but that’s not the case. I will stick around for a while yet and take stock at the end of the year before considering whether or not to renew my licence,” she said.
 
 
WE would like to congratulate Peter Laurie on his appointment as the new Chief Executive of the Retired Greyhound Trust.

On behalf of all practitioners, we thank him for his work in in his role as manager of Welfare & Integrity Services at the Greyhound Board of Great Britain and wish him the very best in his new role.

We would trust that Peter’s successor at the GBGB will continue to ensure that the welfare and integrity of greyhound racing remains both committed and strong and, at the same time, continues to review existing procedures for the best interest of the greyhounds and to make changes where necessary for the betterment of the breed.
 
 
THE Bookmakers’ Afternoon Greyhound Service (BAGS) have donated a welcome and much-needed £75,000 to the Retired Greyhound Trust (RGT) which, like most sides of greyhound racing just now, is finding the economic climate difficult to cope with. 

“The donation is to help the Trust to boost its fund-raising profile during a tough time for the charity,” says the GBGB, and it is equally welcomed by those dedicated kennel hands who spend much of their time, many voluntarily, seeking homes for greyhounds. 

This contribution from BAGS follows on the back of the £100,000 prizemoney they donated to the BAGS/SIS Championship, a competition for graded dogs running at BAGS tracks and which is reported to be highly popular with the participating stadia, and owners and trainers.