Greyhound Racing Ban in NSW – A farewell for an old friend

With the NSW Government taking the dramatic step of introducing a Greyhound Racing ban today, on the back of the fallout of the 4 Corners expose a few years ago, the writing is on the wall for Greyhound Racing in Queensland, and everywhere else.

It is extremely hard to argue against keeping it given the atrocious statistics offered as part of today’s announcement – 48,000-68,000 killed in 12 years, just in NSW because they weren’t up to speed or had health concerns. If only we were as ruthless with politicians.

As an former owner of a Greyhound that made just one start on the straight track at Capalaba, I am all too aware of the senselessness that is involved.

Having lived in a time with slightly less money and a lot less sense, I was convinced to part a share in a greyhound. The dog was given to one of the better trainers of the scene in South East Queensland, but for some reason repeated contacts for when it was to race were met with vague uncertainty.

When the call finally came through that our Greyhound – named Carny Folk (being one of the better and more family friendly suggestions) – was to race at Capalaba on the 366m straight track behind the pub we were all excited.

That excitement turned to bemusement when the dog had shave marks after lord knows what had gone wrong. I can’t quite remember the reason or if there was one.

The on track performance was not great, and by not great I mean last. But hey, I’d supported the South Sydney Rabbitohs during the 90’s and 2000’s and Ipswich Town and remained intensely loyal so I know a thing or two about sticking by an underachiever.

But there was to be no redemption, a call was received on the following Monday to say the dog has been put down. No meeting between share holders, no choice, done and dusted. As a general dog lover it was distressing an a window into the world.

Needless to say, that the experience was a one and only in Greyhound ownership, and I then bought the world’s smallest share into an underperforming racehorse called Dash Past. Similar to Carny Folk it was pretty hopeless (1 last, 2 second lasts from 3 starts) but unlike Carny Folk the owners got a say in it’s future and when racing was no longer an option it was put to good use as working horse and then a pet. It’s end destination a good indication of why it was probably no good as a racehorse.

But despite all the doom and gloom, and justification of the Greyhound Racing ban along the lines of animal cruelty, I also wanted to add that I had a good time attrending and following Greyhound Racing so just wanted to say thanks and goodbye before it becomes a footnote in Australian Sporting history.

First of all let’s not forget when Greyhound Racing took Top Dog status (pardon the pun) and filled in admirably for the Equine Racing across Australia thanks to Horse Flu.

For a short time Greyhounds were king of the TAB, and for a Greyhound Racing fan it was good times. Punters couldn’t get enough. This one included.

Then there’s the endless Thursday evenings at Albion Park. No glitz or glamour, or in fact people, but it was a good cheap night out and always tremendous fun.

From doing the box draw for a Lord Mayor’s Cup with coloured golf balls, to doing Pete Townsend Windmill Air Guitars whilst standing on the fence as it became clear that a well paying trifecta was a certainty at the home turn, or playing the Monty Python theme tune off the phone whilst the lure does its practice run before each race there are many fond memories to reminiscence about. And a few forgotten due to over consumption.

It didn’t even have to be at the track. There was nothing better than a midweek night of betting on the dogs. Even better when a competition for attempting to pick last for a dollar a throw was invented to slow the loss the cash to the TAB.

Then there’s the favourite Greyhounds.

The legend of Flying Amy which had to learned as it was slightly before my time. Carny Folk of course will always be remembered for its one and only start.

Others which take me back are Fin’s Flyer for which a trip to Ipswich Greyhound was required. Or the great Fizzer for which any lead was never too big to chase down.

For some reason names like Aristole, Nujooloo, and about 150 dogs with Bale at the end ring a bell when glancing the mind into the past.

I even recall a race at Ipswich when Paul Dolan had to call a race with six of the eight dogs had a last name Brandon. Thankfully for him one of the two outcasts ran a place.

All good memories, from a slightly misspent youth.

But like in life in general when you become wiser in the ways of the world, the Greyhound Racing ban has shown the dark side of that life and maybe the time is right to grow up.

If the Industry can never properly solve the problems, then maybe it is the right time to call it a day.

If the election and the whole Laurie Oakes tie wearing betravaganza proves a point, it is that Australians will bet on just about anything, and will move on quickly given the sport on offer and the saturation marketing that accompanies it.

At least if people move on from the dogs after the Greyhound Racing ban becomes national, it may stop the dogs being bred for the sport, and start them being bred for love.

But thanks for the good times Greyhound Racing, it was fun while it lasted, even if we were all oblivious to the dark side.

For those who feel strongly about saving Greyhounds, or wanting to find good homes for them when the inevitable Greyhound Racing ban happens nationally – then check out the Greyhound Adoption Program Facebook page.