As you are aware, at our Maitland race meeting on Monday 27 April 2020 there were serious injuries in races 4,5 & 6. Sadly, two of these injuries were catastrophic. In the circumstances and in the interest of the welfare of greyhounds, stewards abandoned the remainder of the meeting.
It should be noted that at the initial steward’s inspection deemed the track safe and at no time during the meeting did they consider the track to be unsafe.
I am sure you are aware that over the past 2 years the Maitland track has one of the best records in relation to race day injury prevention. It should also be noted that the two separate penetrometer readings and track profiles we provided to Greyhound Racing New South Wales (GRNSW) before the race meeting indicated no fractures present, no issues with water content and no concerns were raised with the penetrometer readings.
The steward's report for the night stated that arrangements were made for a GRNSW track maintenance representative to work with the curator to ensure the track was suitable to race on for the next race meeting. The Club Manager was advised not to trial on the track until the GRNSW track maintenance team had assessed the track.
Notwithstanding the above, the next morning GRNSW wrote to New South Wales Greyhound Breeders, Owners & Trainers Association (NSW GBOTA), naturally extremely concerned with the serious injuries at Maitland the night before, and advised that David Aldred had been dispatched to Maitland to inspect the track immediately and that GRNSW would be engaging Professor David Eager to conduct a track report. GRNSW further advised that all race meetings would be suspended until they were satisfied the track was safe.
Whilst it is my understanding that GRNSW officials had already deemed the track to be safe, we were required to wait until the inspection by Professor Eager was undertaken and report was provided. The report has now been completed and in his Executive Summary Professor Edger states “It was concluded that having paramount regard to the safety and welfare of racing greyhounds the Maitland Track is suitable for greyhound racing and trialling”.
Among Professor Eager's report recommendations – clearly to achieve the highest standards in safety and welfare of racing greyhounds (which NSW GBOTA support 100%) – he requested;
- A safety rail be installed in accordance with the GRNSW Minimum Track Safety standards
- Impact attenuating surfacing (padding) be installed on the home turn in accordance with the GRNSW Minimum Track Safety standards
- The 450m starting boxes be repositioned so that the track can be widened to the same width as the bend (remove the 565 m start funnel)
Pleasingly, he also recommended that the Maitland Track may opened for racing and trialling as soon as is reasonably practicable.
In the time since this report was issued;
- Brian Barrington has completed the repositioning of the 450m starting boxes and removed the funnel effect.
- GRNSW have advised that the installation of the safety rail and padding will be completed by 28 May 2020.
Unfortunately, this will require the Maitland meeting scheduled for that day be transferred to our Gosford track.
As soon as the GRNSW work has been completed, arrangements will be put in place to enable trials to be conducted, with a view to resuming racing at Maitland on Thursday 4 June 2020.
I appreciate everyone’s understanding of this important matter.
Again, on behalf of everyone at the NSW GBOTA we send a resounding THANK YOU for your incredible efforts and support during the current COVID 19 racing circumstances.