Last Wednesday night, September 14, a meeting of concerned members of the greyhound community took place at the Horse and Jockey Hotel, the upshot from which is the formation of a committee to tackle the issues, as raised by the assembled crowd, reportedly a mix of owners, trainers and breeders numbering close to 100.
The meeting was chaired by Paschal Taggart, who gave a presentation highlighting current problems, many of which could be shown by comparison of most recent figures with those in the industry just a few years ago.
One of the key purposes of the committee will be to develop and implement a three-year strategic plan for the industry.
It was agreed that the committee, for which 15 people were put forward to be part of, should be formed to tackle current and pending issues.
Trainer Tommy Bolton, who was a key member in last week’s meeting, said: “It is very important that all aspects on the Greyhound Industry work together, including the Board.
“There are people that make a living out of the game and those that can enjoy the game as a hobby, but if we keep going the way we are going, people will neither have a hobby nor a living to be made. We must all now put our differences aside and work together for the good of the game.”
While we’re used to committees and statements, in all walks of life, which are about as useful as a trapdoor on a lifeboat, that one quote sums up everything this sport needs if it is to survive in what have been very choppy waters for quite some time.
There is far too much of a disconnect between those who run the sport, and those who make it. Too often, one side doesn’t want to talk to the other – and both sides are responsible – but it’s easy to see why there is such frustration out there right now amongst owners, trainers and breeders.
There isn’t the money to be made that there once was, and yet there is a seemingly constant flow of added expenses, each of which is threatening to be that final straw. One thing we cannot afford is for any more owners, trainers or breeders to leave the sport.
I must admit to have been very surprised to hear so many people, those at the coalface, resigning themselves to the belief some smaller tracks may have to close to protect the future of the industry. It is most often the case those on the ground leave the economics to those who run the sport, but reality seems to be kicking in somewhat.
I’m sure such a move won’t be put forward by the committee formed in Horse and Jockey, but the fact people who for so long have been completely opposed to such a move are having a change of heart shows the desperation to have greater prizemoney.
It remains the case that paying a trainer to keep a grader really does not pay, and that, to my mind, is the core of what is making this sport drift away from the ordinary person.
There is much to be debated, much more to be done, but having a committee is pointless unless it can work with the board, and not solely act as an antagonist. What direction the committee goes will be significant to the immediate future of the sport. The committee is expected to meet again in the coming days to get the ball rolling.
The Dublin Coach Juvenile Derby got underway last Friday night at Harold’s Cross, and one heat – the fourth of 11 on a programme virtually consumed by the stake – had most bearing on the long-odds market.
Droopys Wilbur, who bypassed the opportunity to take part in the National Greyhound Sales stake, suffered a narrow defeat, at odds of 1-2, but it wasn’t enough for him to prevent him taking his place at the head of the market.
After leading early, it was surprising to see him get caught on the line, but he was conceding considerable race experience to a greyhound, Bull Run Bolt, who had been a finalist in the ECC Timber Open 550 and arrived on the back of victory in the prestigious Texacloth Puppy Derby, at Newbridge.
By some margin, this was the fastest heat of the night, run on a track rated .30s slow, and, that in mind, third-placed Postman Sam may have been overlooked in the market, at a generous-looking 33-1. He only lost his challenging position in the closing stages, and can be expected to step forward significantly from the experience.
Elsewhere, the early pace of Nothing To Hide stood out. He was quickest to the bend, and into the backstraight. Such pace is a huge asset at this track, though he faces a tough test from trap six in a second-round heat which includes Ballymac Tomasso, who also made a deep impression.
The action continues on Friday night, with eight second-round heats.
9-2 Droopys Wilbury, 8 Bull Run Bolt, 10 Ballymac Tomasso, 12 Droopys Smasher, Lenson Rambo, 14 Barefoot Boss, Whoops Jack, 16 Bar
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