Weblog: Our chief correspondent on the topical issues
Greyhound Star helps a real sense of identity
NEWS this week that the Greyhound Star may cease publication at the end of the year has set plenty of alarm bells ringing with the monthly publication dear to the hearts of many in the game.
Declining advertising revenue led to owner/editor Floyd Amphlett requesting that the GBGB increase its support and it seems that is going to be met with a negative response although Amphlett does have a meeting planned with GBGB chief executive Barry Faulkner next week.
Trying to take the emotion out of the situation, and also putting aside the fact that Floyd is a pal, should the GBGB look favourably on his request?
I’m no advocate of anything being addicted to subsidy and, having made my feelings about some greyhound stadia which seem to find themselves in that very situation perfectly clear in the past, it would be hypocritical of me to blindly suggest the GBGB sign a large cheque over to the Star.
However, there is a bigger picture and that is whether those who make these decisions actually look beyond the bottom line. It’s important at this point to stress that the GBGB has two entities – a tremendous administration full of hard working individuals passionate about greyhound racing, and above that a board which I believe has yet to prove it has the best wider interests of Greyhound Racing plc at heart.
Decisions such as the axing of support for the annual yearbook, which was a pittance in the grand scheme of things, and for the magazine show which aired on Sky Sports every fortnight, suggests that those concerned know the cost of everything and value of nothing.
It might be hard to quantify what either of those projects brought into greyhound racing in terms of revenue, but as potentially with the Greyhound Star, it is what the sport – and it is a sport, a pastime, a pleasure for many stakeholders, including punters whose money is actually that being squabbled over – loses when they are gone. A sense of identity perhaps?
And, specifically, with the Star, there is also the nagging doubt that some of those making the decision might just be pleased to see the back of it as Amphlett has never shirked from highlighting what he thinks is wrong in greyhound racing, nor from asking awkward and difficult questions.
It may well be that the Star’s time has passed as print media in general is a declining force in this digital and internet age, but before swinging the axe, greyhound racing might do well to consider just what it is prepared to lose. For the avoidance of any doubt, I think it is incumbent on those promoters on the GBGB board to look beyond what is in it for them.
Moving on, it’s probably fair to say that new Greyhound Trainers’ Association chairman Ricky Holloway is comfortable in the spotlight and Tuesday’s Sky Sports interview during the Sussex Cup broadcast from Hove certainly made interesting viewing.
However, there is a world of difference between campaigning for a position and then being in situ in the role so Holloway may do well to realise that with authority comes responsibility.
Quite rightly, he wants the GTA to be taken seriously at greyhound racing’s top table and no-one can doubt that he has a mandate to work on behalf of trainers following his resounding electoral success.
But he will not do his cause, or those of the trainers he represents, any good if he shoots from the hip as on Tuesday and makes errors that are easily picked up on. The time for rhetoric was when he was campaigning, now is the time to speak in more measured tones as that is the way to be heard.
Star of the show on the track at Hove was Westmead Maldini for the incomparable Nick Savva and, even if it was a tough watch personally having tipped and backed Loughteen Blanco ante-post, you have to tip your hat to all concerned for the Coral Sussex Cup victory.
I’ve always thought it very hard for a greyhound to drop back in distance and being truly competitive, but Westmead Maldini seems better than ever over four bends despite having generally been campaigned over six since finishing third in the Sussex Cup 12 months earlier.
Peterborough stages the weekend’s premier event this side of the Irish Sea with the John Smith’s Derby final which Lil Risky deserves to win having reached the 420m decider unbeaten. Trap five in an all-railer field will not make it easy for Mark Wallis’s charge, but perhaps one way to look at the race is to consider what price he would be were it a sprint – he is more than capable of overcoming the draw by pacing up fast.
Finally, just about halfway through what has already been a magnificent and heart-warming Olympics, anyone with half an hour or so to spare have a look at www.theolympicgene.com It’s a mockumentary about one woman’s quest to represent GB at London 2012, but with a greyhound twist as her coach is played by GBGB welfare executive Richard Beenham, in the guise of a former greyhound trainer.
Oh, and appearing in it didn’t do members of the bronze medal winning GB men’s gymnastics team any harm!
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