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 continues 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 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.

From this week we will publish the Q & A each Tuesday and Friday 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: Hi Tony, I work as Kennel Staff/Track Attendant at two of the tracks in the southern area. The general feedback and also in my opinion, some of the measures that have been put in place during this time could possibly be beneficial if we continued on with them after this Covid-19 period ends as they have made race nights run more smoothly. Has there been any thought of this possibly happening?

A: I have heard from a number of participants that it has been working very well and we should look to continue the protocols when we are out the other side of COVID-19. If measures we have put in place for biosecurity reasons are beneficial and working well, then I can assure you they will be closely looked at as we move forward, and may become the norm.

2. Q: Hi Tony, I have a question regarding the lack of 259 metre racing at Lismore. For the past 6 to 12 months there have been a minimum of 4, 259 metre races held every meeting on generally a 8 to 9 race program. Since the re-opening of Lismore there has only been 1, 259 metre race scheduled being a FFA.
Is there any plans in place to schedule an even mix of distances across all meetings to ensure a far go for all?

A: Thank you for your question. I was asked a similar question last week and pointed out that there were simply too many nominations over the 520m & 420m to justify running a 259m event at the last Lismore meeting. With the extra meetings now being provided in the northern rivers, and Lismore also scheduled two extra meetings on Thursdays over the next month, I would expect that there will be 259m events among those meetings.

3. Q. I notice other racing codes are being asked to download the Government's new COVIDsafe app, will you be doing the same?

A. Downloading the app is completely optional, however, I do encourage participants to do so. The reason we have been able to continue racing is due to our exemplary biosecurity standards and our willingness to implement state and federal Government protocols that help stop the spread of COVID-19. Downloading the app is just another way for us to cooperate with the Government's recommendations to assist us to continue to stop the spread and continue racing.

4. Q: Hi Tony, when do you think we will see some heat races and finals around Goulburn and Bulli or Dapto. Something for trainers to look forward. Also when will we see Wentworth Park back on the calendar at least on a Wednesday. 

A: Ladbrokes launched their Super Series last week and those events are being spread around the regions - in the Metro/Southern region at Richmond, Northern Rivers at Grafton, Hunter at Ladbrokes Gardens and Western region at Dubbo. As we have done throughout this COVID-19 situation, we have looked to share things around among all regions and all participants, and we will look at – and no doubt discuss with Ladbrokes - the potential of further series after the completion of this one.

5. Q: During this disruptive time in our sport I would like to make a suggestion to help in viewing our sport on TV. This suggestion relates to the often difficulty in distinguishing the RED and PINK rugs of runners. The colours can appear very similar and confusing on smaller screens or screens of poor colour quality or when the colour of the rug has faded. My suggestion is that either the RED or PINK rug NUMBER be encased in a white circle in the centre of the rug and this will give the viewer better clarification. This is only a suggestion but I believe it would benefit the sport as a visual attraction.

A: As I always tell my staff, no suggestion is a bad suggestion, and I always try to encourage any sort discussion around innovation or changes which can help our industry. Making our sport attractive for people to watch and participate in, is very important to us. I will put your suggestion forward to our racing operations and media teams and get their input.

6. Q: Hi Tony, the blame games have started around the Maitland track. What is the real story?

A: We have launched an investigation into the incidents at the Maitland track last night and engaged an independent expert on track standards to inspect and provide a full report to us. Our own expert track team went to Maitland this morning and will conduct a full audit of track work and interview any GBOTA personnel involved in the running of its venue. I have also requested a parallel investigation by GBOTA, as the track owner and operator. We also decided to suspend racing and trialling at the venue until the investigation is completed. As I have been open about, the injuries to greyhounds at Maitland may have been unexpected and an anomaly, however GRNSW’s commitment to animal welfare as our number one priority means we will leave no stone unturned to find out what happened, and do anything that needs to be done as a result of the investigation. We want to know all the facts and we won’t be engaging in any blame games.

As I wrote yesterday, the Q & A column has now been running for 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.

We are well into the swing of things now, and 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. 

Congratulations to those who had success at Goulburn today and I wish everyone racing at Lismore and Ladbrokes Gardens today the very best of luck.

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.