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Dogs gone: trainers boycott meeting over $6.50 entry fee

It prompted the group of trainers to revolt against the Greyhound Breeders and Owners Trainers Association’s decision, refusing to nominate their greyhounds for the upcoming Bulli program. They said they would continue with the action until the issue is mediated.

The GBOTA runs a number of tracks throughout the state and has a policy of charging for entry at all venues bar Wentworth Park.

This is not just about the entry fee, but how tracks treat trainers.

Mark Gatt

“The trainers stand united with this course of action if nothing is resolved,” leading trainer Mark Gatt said.

“This is not just about the entry fee, but how tracks treat trainers. They’re not supporting trainers. We don’t want to support a club that’s not going to support us.”

Fellow trainer Andy Lord anticipated the number of trainers who have supported the action will only grow in coming days.

“There’s not one issue, there’s lots of little issues,” he said. “They don’t understand the hours we put in and we bring the product to them.

“There are things that need to be addressed. Not all clubs, but a lot of clubs are not trying to help the trainer and owner. This does put all clubs on notice. They can’t keep treating us like this. If they don’t support us we won’t support them.”

But GBOTA operations manager Ellen Dwyer outlined a host of extra incentives the club provides to its members, which she claimed far outweighed the price of admission for each meeting. She said the GBOTA doles out $450,000 in prizemoney and membership benefits each year.

“Participants are entitled to better returns and we continue to advocate for that,” Dwyer said.

“We would love to be in a position where participants would be able to turn up without an extra cost, but the reality is the club has to facilitate that racing and we incur our own costs. We need to ensure our revenue streams to be able to deliver our product.

“We certainly accept participants are incurring increased charges and we feel the way that needs to be dealt with is by increased prizemoney.”

The industry is currently grappling with a shortage of greyhounds, the trickle-on effect of breeding programs which were suspended while the code was in limbo during the NSW government’s decision to shut down the industry in 2016.

Premier Mike Baird’s decision was overturned a few months later.

Greyhound racing has also been hit by the introduction of new digital betting taxes applied to online bookmakers and a long-term agreement which limits the amount of revenue it generates from TAB wagering regardless of its market share.

Nominations for the Richmond meeting have been extended until Thursday morning.

Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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