A decision by the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club committee to push for the reintroduction of racing over 277 metres on a restricted basis took a new turn this week.
MGGRC president Noel Perry said with the minimum racing age of a greyhound being 16 months, the initial decision had been made in a bid to encourage trainers with youngsters to perhaps race them at an earlier age rather than trialling once they had been educated.
“Look, we’re certainly not looking to allow short-course racing to take over. But it’s no secret since the border closure at times we’ve struggled to attract sufficient greyhounds for our meetings,” he said.
“What we proposed to Greyhound Racing SA was running one maiden over 277 metres at each meeting with the event predominantly for younger dogs that under the present structure would possibly still be going around Tara Raceway on a trial morning.
“This race would be graded ‘youngest up’, hopefully not impacting to any great extent on the pool of slightly older 400 metres and 512 metres maidens, and allowing us to program an all-important extra event.”
Looking to the other end of the racing greyhound age scale, the MGGRC committee also put to GRSA a proposal to run one “Masters” event over 277 metres at each meeting.
A Masters race caters for greyhounds four years of age and older although 3¾-year-olds are considered subject to nominations.
“Our belief is that we may be able to keep older greyhounds on the track for a longer period if they are racing over a shorter distance. And once again this would hopefully give us another race without impacting to any great extent on the general racing pool,” Perry said.
However, this week, GRSA Strategic Projects Manager Scott Wuchatsch became involved, proposing what he believed would be a better option than the 277 metres start.
He provided to the committee a layout of a better aligned 305 metres start that he believed would enable greyhounds to race in a straight line out of the boxes with a longer run to the first turn.
“I believe with little cost we can create a new 305 metres start and continue to utilise the existing 277 m/732 m boxes for distance racing only,” Wuchatsch said.
“The project could be done fairly quickly if made a priority by management and the club. I reckon we could be racing over 305 metres by November.”
So what happens now, following the MGGRC committee voting on Tuesday in favour of a 305 metres start, is that in the interim nominations will be called for a 277 metres Young Star Maiden and Masters on a weekly basis until the 305 metres start is operational.
Racing over 277 metres at Tara Raceway will commence on Thursday, October 8 but will cease with the introduction of the 305 metres distance.
When racing over 305 metres does commence it will kick off with a maiden heats and final series sponsored by Razza Racing’s Lisa, Tony and Tara Rasmussen of Gifford Hill.
Meanwhile, GRSA Racing Manager Shaun Mathieson, who has been right behind the club’s effort to encourage more races, said trainers nominating for 277 metres should include a second preference.