The longer-than-expected closure of the Gunnedah Greyhound Racing Club for a safety upgrade is putting the welfare of greyhound owners and trainers at risk due to the long distances they are forced to travel to attend meetings, the club’s president, Geoff Rose, has said.
Rose, who is also a director of the NSW Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association, fears there will be a late-night road fatality involving a local racing identity returning home from a meeting at another destination.
He said that while the welfare of the dogs was important, hence the need for the upgrade, more attention needed to be paid to the welfare of owners and trainers.
He said: “I have a big problem at the moment. We have no trialling facilities for the locals, we’ve got not racing facilities for the locals.
“And they happen to travel four or five hours just to race a dog … You’re forcing people to travel. There’s nothing worse.
“We’re talking animal welfare – we should be talking human welfare as well .. We’ve got to get this thing going [the upgrade] so these people can race locally without having to travel these massive miles.”
In late February the greyhound track in Gunnedah was closed after a routine inspection by Greyhound Racing NSW found it to be “compromised at some points”.
Rose said that was due to black soil beneath the surface. The track was converted from grass to sand in 2014.
It had been reported that the track would be closed for at least two months. But Rose said it was unlikely the club’s main meeting of the year, the Ladbrokes Chief Havoc Cup, scheduled for the June long weekend, would be held.
He said the results of test samples taken of the track on March 8 had not yet been disclosed to GRNSW. The results would determine the extent of the repairs needed, he added.
Rose said the company that took the samples had said the results would be known within “two to three weeks, four weeks at the most” but it had now been five weeks.
“We’ve got to get this bloody test back first to find out what we’ve got to do,” he said.
He added: “I was hoping we’d have our carnival in June but I honestly can’t see that happening now.”
Rose said the club had lost ‘four or five meetings” due to the closure, and he expected that figure to be “six or seven” once the club reopened.