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JONATHAN KAY

Weblog: Our chief correspondent on the topical issues

Rosney's view is chance to challenge status quo

PAT ROSNEY did not pull many punches in a wide-ranging interview in Sunday’s Racing Post which should certainly be food for thought for the movers and shakers in greyhound racing.

Sure, he went over some old ground in addition to proposing some excellent initiatives but this was a whole different ball game to what we’ve heard a lot of before.

Rosney is having a career year, at the very top of the training profession and with a kennel to dream about. By his own admission his mortgage is paid off which is what is allowing him to operate the way he does even though the finances don’t add up.

He is not a failure, disaffected or with an axe to grind. He is not a faceless keyboard warrior but one of greyhound racing’s very best spelling out the woes his profession face at a time when he would be entitled to sit back and bask in his recent glory.

Just when are promoters, the Greyhound Board, Bags going to accept that they have to listen? They might not like what they hear, and who they are hearing it from, but it would be easy to draw the conclusion that they are indifferent. They need to prove otherwise.

Rick Holloway still isn’t the right man in my opinion but there has to be a method of communication  for trainers to get their concerns across so maybe it’s time to bite the bullet where he is concerned. He’d be on a short leash and may well implode but this apparent ivory tower mentality cannot go on.

Take Rosney’s concerns about the way running surfaces are prepared. In my experience, the vast majority of trainers are against a policy that calls for regular, they think excessive, harrowing but how do they get that point across?

Their chairman, Holloway, is ostracised and the practitioner representative, John Haynes, is the track safety consultant so party to the policy in the first place. It is a very unhealthy situation and maybe just maybe Haynes isn't cleverer than everyone else.

Promoters think I have it in for them but it is just the grip they seem to hold over the GBGB that concerns me. The Board is rapid to come down on trainers who err, but seem paralysed when it comes to promoters.

Sittingbourne’s Roger Cearns is getting plenty of pats on the back for eventually retaining an £8,000 Grand National first prize but why was he allowed to announce it would be just £2,500 in the first place? Was that not acting in a manner prejudicial to the good name of greyhound racing?

On open-race prize money, when was the last time minimum levels were looked at? £250 for a win and £50 for running – ie £500 all in - would not be unreasonable for a sector which is meant to be a celebration of the best rather than a cheap card filler.

Very much like turkeys and Christmas, the promoters are unlikely to vote for that but should one sector effectively have a veto as seems to be the case?  And Bags really should revisit introducing a minimum percentage of contracts being paid out in prize money, the current situation is weighted far too heavily in favour of promoters just because they can get away with it.

Promoters may not be making what they think are excessive profits, and they may well think that bookmakers could pay more, but those profits are excessive compared to the often breadline existence of those trainers providing it.

The Greyhound Board should be there for all stakeholders in the industry and not have the commercial interests of promoters as an overwhelming priority which is hard not to conclude is the situation now despite independent directors being in situ.

Look at the average age of promoters. They aren’t going to be around for ever which might explain why they seem to want everything now although I think there is a big element of them not having confidence in their product as well.

The current Board members representing track owners – Swindon's Bill Glass, Nottingham’s Rachel Corden and the GRA’s Clive Feltham – can be forgiven for having blinkered agendas but the ability to challenge them must exist. It simply does not seem to now.

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@jkgreyhounds

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