Shepparton’s leading way with safety measures
Greyhound Racing Victoria’s continual pursuit of safer racing across Victoria relies on a range of interrelated disciplines.
These encompass continued safe and improved track design, quality track maintenance and education and preparation of greyhounds.
And to achieve the safest possible outcome all of these must work concurrently to achieve the overall objective of reducing racing injuries.
One example of this integration is Shepparton Greyhound Racing Club.
Over a three-year period until 2019, Shepparton had racing injury statistics in the mid-40s per 1000 starters.
However, infrastructure and other interventions from 2018 to 2019 has seen this level reduced to 35 per 1000, making Shepparton one of the safest tracks in the state.
Among these improvements were an increased track camber to reduce race turning injuries, improved track harrowing, increased track monitoring and water management and the introduction of roll-on starting boxes.
The introduction of these boxes was based on modelling undertaken by the University of Technology, Sydney at other tracks and is designed to reduce initial start clustering thereby reducing track injuries.
While Shepparton has worked closely with GRV infrastructure in relation to the physical improvements to the track, club manager Carl McGrath believes other measures undertaken by the club have also impacted the reduction of race injuries.
These include the track staff’s willingness to adapt and respond to suggested changes.
Among the non-track changes is the introduction of a resident veterinary clinic at the track for up to three days a week.
Separate from the GRV race day vet, and specialising in greyhounds, the Shepparton Vet Clinic provides the local industry with a range of regular veterinary services as well as muscular manipulation and desexing services.
“Apart from providing basic veterinary services the clinic already offers dental work, X-rays and some surgeries and we see it as an additional participant service which greatly assists in animal welfare,” McGrath said.
“Because of this we have had a lot of positive comments from participants indicating that the dogs are racing more often and not suffering as many injuries.”
He also believes that the introduction of free trialing has had a significant impact on reducing racing injuries.
“With the support of GRV we introduced free trialing for a six-month period with a view that it would ensure local trainers and breeders did not minimise race preparation,” he said.
“It was so successful that it was extended for a further three months before GRV introduced it at venues across the state.
“I believe it has played a role in greyhound safety and welfare by providing participants with a benefit, both to them and their animal, by encouraging them to trial before nomination.”