Weblog: At large in the greyhound world
After all the shouting, it's time for political finesse
FAIR PLAY to Tom Kelly, chairman of the Fund, for agreeing to meet Martin White and colleagues on Tuesday. It had been reported that the Fund had declined to meet the guys but Kelly explained no such meeting had ever actually been asked for – at least since he became chairman and he was happy to meet anyone who has the best interests of greyhound racing at heart, even if he couldn’t promise to agree with them.
It broke a log jam as, without doubt, the Betfair Trainers’ Championship would have been abandoned as most of the trainers involved had decided a point had to be made – even if it was one that would cost them dearly.
This might have cost the sport dearly too as Sky would hardly have taken kindly to such a late change to scheduling, and who knows what the implications would have been for future coverage. Betfair, the Trainers’ Championship sponsors, also found themselves caught up in a regrettable row that had nothing to do with them – but forced the late cancellation of the lunch arranged to honour the topsix handlers.
It is perplexing that the Greyhound Board and the promoters seemed prepared to risk a total Sky melt-down, rather than engage with White and his colleagues, instead citing ‘proper procedure should be followed’.
I’m a rules man too, but there are times for discretion, and plainly there is something seriously at fault with the way trainers’ representation is or isn’t working. There is a divide, between graded and the top echelon of open trainers, but it can’t be right that all Fund support currently goes to graded racing exclusively.
It’s about balance, and a bit of tweaking is required. And it won’t costa fortune either because the numbers of major events are relatively small, whereas it does cost a fortune to have any impact at all on graded racing, again because of the volume of races involved.
And if the Fund does do a bit better through some of the recent welcome initiatives that have been put into place, it would be helpful if open racing came closer to the top of the list for consideration.
Let’s be sensible about this. The costs of just going open racing have soared, but the returns have not. And it’s the glamour events which catch the eye of prospective owners, not winning an A8 affair.
Take a look at the big picture. Sky has proved a massive boon for greyhound racing, and remember it stuck by us after the BBC walked away. Sky’s involvement was all down to Jarvis Astaire, then chairman of the GRA and the reason why the GRA still control the Sky contract – which causes a lot of angst among rival promoters.
Anyway, more tracks are now involved, and the production values set by Dave Lawrence and his team are the main reason I, and countless others, take Sky Sports at home.
Yes, Martin White and the trainers involved have gone about things clumsily, but it strikes me the sport as a whole has been equally clumsy in deciding to ignore the points that have been put forward by them.
Let’s hope for more finesse, and fewer blunderbusses.