Weblog: Our chief correspondent on the topical issues
Time for the GTA to call an AGM after cry for help
WELL what a couple of weeks that was in greyhound racing when just about everything seemed to happen on and off the track. And, as I write on Sunday evening, it’s just got more bizarre with the incredible news that Norah McEllistrim is leaving Wimbledon.
There’s no doubt that her decision to move to Hove has been taken with a heavy heart as I’m sure she is included as part of the fixtures and fittings whenever Wimbledon is valued, but it is a sad indictment of the situation at Plough Lane. It’s not the fault of the management, but just too much is being taken out of the GRA as a group to mean training at one of their venues is an attractive proposition these days.
Norah will settle quickly at Hove, I’m sure of that, but she will leave an enormous void at Wimbledon, not least in terms of greyhound numbers with the track very stretched in that regard already as it is.
Despite the woes of the GRA, I’m sure there will still be plenty of interest in a position at Wimbledon although anyone applying will surely be looking to a possible change of ownership in the hope of better times ahead.
McEllistrim, of course, has been on the periphery of the really big talking point of late, the since rescinded threat by leading trainers to boycott open-racing in general and the Betfair Trainers’ Championship in particular.
As chair of the Greyhound Trainers’ Association, McEllistrim should be the conduit through which grievances are aired, but there is clearly a loss of faith with the GTA and practitioner GBGB director John Haynes in particular.
I will never believe that the threat to ruin the Trainers’ Championship meeting was sensible – and it is exceptionallydisappointing to hear from Betfair’s Tony Calvin that not one of the five competing trainers who signed up to the decision have taken the trouble to subsequently contact him – but it was a cry for help and it was good that Fund chairman Tom Kelly said he would listen.
There is a case for a share of the prize money allocation going to open-racing and hopefully dialogue will continue, but the whole issue of trainer representation needs to be sorted as well. It might be helpful if the GTA announced an AGM and got the democratic process rolling again.
The GBGB has come in for plenty of criticism, mostly very unjust in my opinion. There seems to be a misconception about what its role is, and in termsof decision making it can only represent the views of its board – whether that is too promoter dominated is perhaps the issue.
Racing wise, Eden Star shot to the top of the williamhill.com Derby betting with an impressive success in the Racing Post Juvenile on a night when Westmead Melanie confirmed that she could just be the breath of fresh air the hurdles scene desperately needs with a stunning williamhill.com Springbok victory.
Milldean Panther has been proven to be canine after the amazing start to his career came to an end with defeats in the semi and then final of the SIS Live Shelbourne Gold Cup. His second place behind Piercestown Sand in the decider did seem a little flat, but connections have admitted that he was somewhat rushed into the event andhe’s certainly not for writing off.
Matt Dartnall is absolutely on fire and a top six finish is very much in range following a second Category One success in less than three weeks when Ballymac Cryan landed the Ladbrokes Mobile Arc at Swindon to back up Blue Bee’s Ladbrokes Golden Jacket victory at Crayford.
Whether finishing in the top six means an invitation to a worthwhile Trainers’ Championship meeting in 2013 is another matter after the way the current sponsor has been treated.