Greyhound stood down for failure to chase at Christchurch meeting

File photo: Getty Images
File photo: Getty Images
Grande Vue Ace was bred for one purpose only - to chase a lure. In only her second race, she failed.

In the world of greyhound racing, her slight distraction during a race meeting in Christchurch on April 5 was a serious misdemeanour that has placed her in the dog box for a month.

"It's a bloody stupid rule," the hound's breeder and owner, Bob Pringle, told Open Justice, after efforts to seek a review of the decision failed.

The Racing Integrity Board noted this week that greyhounds that "fail to pursue the lure with due commitment throughout the entirety of the race are deemed to not be committed to their sole purpose for racing".

The rule when applied required a hound to be checked by a vet or other authorised person.

Ace was checked and was found to have a minor cut to a toe on her left hind foot, which led to a 10-day stand-down, but stewards nonetheless continued with the charge of failing to pursue.

Pringle said the young dog, described as a "lovely juvenile pup", had just won her first race after an "amazing start".

She came out of the same box for the second race when Pringle, who did not profess to understand dog psychology, said she appeared to turn her head inwards as if to say to the dog next to her, called Baldrick, "What the hell are you doing there?".

He also said she might have been flummoxed by the "squeaker" on the lure, which made a sound very audible to dogs so they could both see and hear it.

He argued that because of this a greyhound did not have to look straight ahead, as the noise indicated the whereabouts of the lure.

Video replays showed Grand Vue Ace jump from Box 8, gallop for about 10 strides before appearing to turning her head inwards for six strides towards the shoulder of Baldrick, who had started from the box next to her.

The two dogs appeared in the video to shoulder briefly before coming to a bend.

Pringle conceded that anything other than 100 per cent focus on the lure was a "no-no" in racing, but argued mitigating factors had led to the "inappropriate decision" to stand down the hound.

His request for a review of the decision, which included the need to complete a satisfactory trial before resuming racing, has now been dismissed.

Pringle submitted that stewards could have dealt differently with the matter, and that he wished to use the hearing as a platform for bringing about a rule change, which he has tried to do in the past.

He wanted to see a graduated scale of offending and penalties because one penalty did not fit all.

He submitted that it was unduly harsh to invoke the rule, and "not totally necessary", and that a juvenile dog having its second start had been penalised for a "minor incident" in which no other dog or punter was affected.

Pringle, a retired educationalist who bred greyhounds for a hobby at his home near Geraldine, told Open Justice he had no difficulty with the decision, but he had a problem with the process by how it was reached.

The Adjudicative Committee that heard the review application said in reaching its decision that it was a clear case of failing to pursue, based on the hound's six strides with her head turned.

"This was the sole matter that the Adjudicative Committee was required to determine. The applicant had seen fit to cloud this issue with items on a personal agenda that had little or no relevance to the central issue.

"The application for review was verging on frivolous."

Pringle said Ace still had a bright future.

"She's a lovely, lovely greyhound. She would make a jolly lovely pet."

-By Tracy Neal
Open Justice multimedia journalist