Tuesday, June 2, 2020
It was on Sunday, July 29, 2012 that the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club introduced racing behind the finish-on lure (FOL) at Tara Raceway – Hoop’s Tavern winning the first race for local trainer Connie Miller.
This followed a vote which resulted in club members pretty well split down the middle when it came to retaining the traditional catching pen or switching to the finish-on system which allowed greyhounds at the end of a race to catch a dummy lure. For many, obviously old habits die hard.
The decision to adopt the finish-on format in Mount Gambier brought the club into line with Angle Park and Gawler although Adelaide trainers later successfully lobbied for the catching pen to be re-introduced at Angle Park.
While Mount Gambier and Gawler still race behind the FOL, the majority of Australian tracks continue to conduct racing with a catching pen. Albion Park in Queensland tried the finish-on system but reverted to the catching pen.
A couple of exceptions are Geelong, currently racing behind the FOL, while NSW club Richmond conducted Sunday FOL meetings pre-COVID-19 and from all accounts received strong nominations.
Granted, for those watching a race on track the catching procedure can appear a little disorganised with greyhounds and catchers congregating around the lure.
But for all that, it’s probably fair to say that Mount Gambier’s decision to make the change to its catching procedure has resulted in turning around the fortunes of a number of greyhounds that had previously copped marring or failing to chase suspensions at non-FOL tracks.
There was a time when many Australian greyhounds with questionable traits turned their careers around after finding their way to New Zealand where the FOL is used exclusively.
A case in point is a greyhound called Platinum Marshal, purchased as a pup from Victoria by an Adelaide syndicate of five, only to be later hit by the realisation after breaking-in well that he had no real inclination to be a racing dog.
As a last resort they decided to send him to race in New Zealand – certainly not a cheap exercise – where he never put a foot wrong, racing on 99 occasions for 25 wins, 37 minor placings and close to $60,000 in stakemoney.
Eight years on, though, and not a lot has changed from a participant point of view at Tara Raceway – or any other Australian track it would seem. Some remain in favour of the FOL while others are still against it.