Greyhounds back early but future still unclear

The dogs are coming back earlier than first thought but the future still remains cloudy.

The Otago Greyhound Racing Club will have two full meetings in the opening months of the season as it fights to remain alive.

When Covid-19 struck, the greyhounds calendar was ripped up and any meetings left to race at Forbury Park were abandoned. Greyhounds racing was the first racing code back in early May but venues were cut back and no racing took place south of the Waitaki River.

In next season’s calendar, which was released earlier this month by the Racing Industry Transition Agency (Rita), the Otago club has been given 10 dates of mini meetings each made up of six races.

That is down from 27 full meetings this season and is a reduction from more than 400 races to 60 races.

Otago Greyhound Racing Club general manager John Carlyle said the club had gone back to Rita and said the mini meetings were simply uneconomic and the club needed more races.

Rita came back with a date on August 19 where 10 races will take place. It has also confirmed a 10-race meeting on October 1, which is also the first day of harness racing for the Forbury Park Trotting Club in the new season.

The greyhound club lost a couple of mini meetings in September. One of the dates clashed with a harness meeting in Invercargill so had to be canned because of limitations around broadcasting.

The full calendar is still to be organised and only the first couple of months have been revealed.

Carlyle said the club was still waiting to hear back from Rita on whether it would be prepared to give the club more dates.

It would be some light at the end of the tunnel as the club wanted to get more meetings back on the track. Fields had always been full for the races this season before they were called off.

The track was of a good standard and attracted trainers from all round the South Island. The Forbury Park Trotting Club has received 10 meetings for next season, which starts on August 1. It had also lost all its meetings in the draft calendar but had a late reprieve.

Greyhound Racing NZ racing operations and welfare manager Michael Dore said it would be making an application to the new TAB NZ dates committee about the lost September meeting on behalf of the Otago club.


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