First greyhound meet held since the reversal of the ban

WINNERS weren’t the only grinners at the first Wagga greyhounds meet since the ban was overturned. 

The sunny mood was palpable at the showgrounds last Friday, with more than 50 members of the industry and their loved ones out to support the besieged sport.

Like many of her friends, Saint Isidore greyhound trainer Julie French has been on cloud nine since the prohibition was reversed on Tuesday. 

BACK ON TRACK: Wagga trainer Paul Strutt was happy to be back racing  with dog Take The Spot after the ban was reversed. Picture: Kieren L. Tilly

BACK ON TRACK: Wagga trainer Paul Strutt was happy to be back racing with dog Take The Spot after the ban was reversed. Picture: Kieren L. Tilly

“Everyone is going around with a smile on their face,” Saint Isidore greyhound trainer Julie French said. 

The planned event came only mere days after Premier Mike Baird sensationally reversed a decision to ban greyhound racing, vowing instead to give the industry “one last chance”.  

In July, Mr Baird  declared the sport would be banned in NSW by mid-2017, after a report found evidence of widespread cruelty.

Member for Wagga Daryl Maguire was one of the region’s most vocal supporters of the prohibition, claiming it was the only way forward to prevent further live baiting and deaths. 

But the Riverina greyhound industry consistently disputed the state government’s stance, saying any cruelty was the result of a few bad eggs and could be solved through further regulation. 

Saint Isidore trainer Pat Mccormick said Friday’s sunny meet was welcome respite for the industry.

He had been sick with worry for the mental health of his friends who had significant financial investment in the industry. 

“Now its over I am sure they will get their health back,” Mr Mccormick said. 

“People had been owning dogs all their lives, and for them to think they hadn’t got anything anymore, it must have been really hard for them.

“They’ve got something back they have always loved, and now they can go and get on with their lives.” 

But owner-trainers Joanne Smith and Nola Richards said they were worried about what could still be in store for the industry.

If rumours that owners might have to pay $1500 per racing greyhound proved true, it would be difficult for many small players in the industry to pay up, they said.

“It’s just what has [Mr Baird] got next, it’s a bit of a worry,” Ms Smith said. 

“We will just have to wait and see what they bring out, but it is a lot of money.”

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