It was only yesterday that there had been a distinct possibility of the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club temporarily closing down until such time as Victorian border restrictions were lifted.
Pre Covid-19, Victorian nominations contributed significantly to the local club’s weekly meetings at Tara Raceway but the extension of border restrictions had come as a further blow to the local greyhound racing club.
Over recent days the MGGRC and GRSA had been in discussion regarding the challenge facing the club in relation to nominations for Tara Raceway beyond the running of the Bourne Kennels Mount Gambier Cup final on Sunday, August 30.
There’s no doubt, the MGGRC (formerly known as the South East Greyhound Racing Club) had endured plenty of challenging years since its inception back in 1972, certainly none like 2020, though.
MGGRC representatives spoke further with GRSA’s Matt Corby at the conclusion of yesterday’s Tara Raceway meeting, the controlling body’s CEO then seeking urgent talks with Tabcorp and Sky Racing.
This morning, Corby contacted MGGRC president Noel Perry to inform him that GRSA was committed to continuing to support the club through this difficult time and had approved a support package for the region.
“The decision to push forward with racing in Mount Gambier with a reduced race meeting was made with the support of Tabcorp and Sky Racing, having regard for the unusual pressures that Covid-19 restrictions have indirectly placed on some regional areas,” Corby said.
“A (notional) minimum of 40 greyhounds will be required for a Thursday race meeting to automatically proceed. In the event that the minimum level of nominations is not met, and further to discussions between GRSA and the MGGRC, that meeting may be cancelled.”
However, in the event that a meeting is cancelled, a package will be applied to support registered trainers and breeders in the region for that week in lieu of a racing opportunity.
“We will allocate a $4 payment per greyhound per day (includes pups and retirees) for all registered premises. Also, a $150 special payment will be made to trainers to travel to Murray Bridge, Angle Park or Gawler,” he said.
“The following arrangements, which also include preferential trialling opportunities (where possible) at northern tracks on race days, will come into effect from September 1.
“And it is our intention that they will remain in place until the borders have opened and the normal schedule of racing at Mount Gambier (Thursday and Sunday) has recommenced.”
GRSA chairman, Grantley Stevens is also looking forward to seeing Mount Gambier return to its traditional racing schedule.
“For the sake of clarity, we are all desperately keen to see a Victorian recovery and for Mount Gambier greyhound racing to rebound.
“This support scheme is intended as an interim measure only in order to support the Mount Gambier region in lieu of a return to ‘normal’. The south-east is a vital cog within the broader SA model,” he said.
Another problem the club had encountered was on-course veterinary surgeon Craig Finlayson of Warrnambool now unable to cross the border.
However, GRSA also announced today that Lewis Schinckel of the Kingston Vet Clinic had agreed to help out the club.
So, all told, Friday turned out to be a pretty good day for local greyhound racing. Far better than Thursday, that’s for sure.