I would like to thank everyone for their contributions to this Question and Answer column which has now been going for a month, and while we do not know when the current situation will end, with each day we are one day closer to coming out the other side.

I hope that this Q & A column has been beneficial to all participants, not just those who have emailed questions.

I feel that we have handled the changes and dealt with the adversity extremely well, and I applaud you all, as well as my staff, the GWIC staff, and also those working at each of the race clubs.

It is, and will continue to be a difficult time for everyone, but as I have said from day one when the industry in NSW started dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, our first and foremost concern is for the health and safety of our participants and staff.

These Q & As began, and will continue, because I believe it’s crucial to keep all participants up to date on all news involving the industry, and I encourage everyone to keep sending in their questions pertaining to the COVID-19 situation, and I will do my best to answer them, and then publish those questions and answers across our website and social media platforms.

If you have any questions, please email them to the following address: update@grnsw.com.au

As the case has been with any important announcements or developments, we will publish those across our GRNSW network as required.

Here’s the latest round of questions sent in to GRNSW.

1. Q: Tony, am I able to bring food and drink into the racetrack?

A: Yes, you are permitted to take food and drink into the venues during this time, but of course participants are not allowed to take alcoholic beverages into the venues.

2. Q: Tony, how come Gunnedah gets one meeting a week, when there are dogs sitting at home not getting a run because of low points and have no chance of getting points at this stage, so how about putting on another meeting for them.

A: The New England region with Gunnedah having one meeting a week, is in line with the traditional racing schedule between Tamworth and Gunnedah clubs. The additional race meetings at Gunnedah also have raised the prizemoney return to participants in that region.

3. Q: I saw that the Richmond club posted that there is to be no alcohol on course. Is this correct?

A: Yes this is correct. The current ruling from the Government is that licenced venues are only permitted to serve take away alcohol. The liquor licences at all of our racing venues does not cover selling take away alcohol, therefore we are not able to serve any alcohol at our race meetings while these restrictions are in place. I’m sure everyone understands this situation.

4. Q: Why are you not catering for the South Coast trainers, Richmond (4 meetings), Goulburn (2) and Bulli (1) are all the same type of track - speed tracks - with just Dapto  having 1 meeting. If you live on the South Coast you have a 4 hour round trip to Richmond and the same to Goulburn for 6 of the 8 weekly meetings. Why can’t Nowra have a meeting and cater better for the South Coast trainers.

A: I answered a similar question last week about Gosford. Nowra, like Gosford, is not the only venue currently not being used in the state and we have shown over the past few weeks that we are trying to get as many racing options open, and are mindful that we do need to have as many tracks back racing as soon as possible. We have tried to give a variety of track options for trainers, and while this won’t be ideal for everyone, please remember the unique situation we are currently in.

5. Q: Hi Tony, it has been good to see Greyhounds as Pets getting some great exposure in the media of late with a number of high profile people showing how much they love their adopted greyhounds and what great pets they make. There should be more of these stories to show the greyhound for what it really is – the most loveable, loyal and adorable dog breed.

A: I absolutely agree, the more coverage we can get with people spreading the word about what wonderful pets greyhounds make, the better it is. We all know it is the case, we just want everyone to be aware of it. I too have enjoyed reading about celebrities and sports stars who own greyhounds as pets, the latest couple being Olympians Jess Fox and Bec Palmer, and don’t forget to spread the word ourselves, and send people to the GAP website, www.gapnsw.com.au.

6. Q: Tony, great initiative the new Ladbrokes Super Series and Maiden event. Ladbrokes have shown again they really are invested in greyhound racing in NSW.

A: You are absolutely right. It is a tremendous investment from Ladbrokes in the industry. They know that participants are struggling in these times, and after speaking with them, this series was conceived, and has already been well received by participants around the State. We look forward to it being a great success over the coming month.

7. Q: Hi, I'm a registered participant and seeking clarification as to where dogs will be racing on the MNC (Mid North Coast) TAB Track. Are you going to share Taree and Wauchope? GRNSW hasn't announced that we will be racing at Wauchope with TAB status. Can you advise?

A: In the release today of the draft 2020/21 race dates, you will see that we have slated 26 Wednesdays for Mid North Coast venues. At present we have approved Taree for TAB racing, and as such have worked with the club to bring the venue – not simply the track – up to TAB standard. We will be continuing to look at other options for TAB racing in the region.

The Q & A column has now been running for almost six weeks and I hope we have been able to help participants navigate their way through the changes we have been forced to make during the COVID-19 pandemic. I think it has been helpful both for participants and for myself and GRNSW to tackle any issues which have arisen.

As we are well into the swing of things now, I have decided that from this week, the Q & A column will be now published bi-weekly, on Tuesday and Friday, so keep your questions coming in, and I will address any issues on those days.  

I wish everyone racing at Bathurst and Maitland today the very best of luck.

As I have regularly mentioned in this column these are tough times and we are as an industry all in it together, so I urge you to pick up the phone and call a fellow participant to make sure they are doing ok as well.

Do not forget if there is anyone who may be struggling at the moment and wanting somebody to talk to, you can do something about that. If you do feel the need to talk to someone about your situation, please do not hesitate to call. You can speak with a qualified counsellor at any time by calling 1300 687 327.

Keep yourselves and your families safe, and importantly be vigilant in these difficult times.

Tony Mestrov.