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Greyhound industry "booming" in north Queensland

By Jordan Gerrans 

If you build it; they will come.

For the Townsville Greyhound Racing Club, they have always had the facilities built in north Queensland, they just needed the opportunity to use them more often.

Club President Gary Heath has long been of the belief that they could race more than once a week and now after a year of hosting two meetings a week, he says the numbers stack up speak for themselves.

Bigger fields, increased numbers of dogs and trainers in north Queensland and strong wagering interest, the Townsville Greyhound Racing Club is performing as well as it ever has.

The statistics show that the number of dogs in the region has increased by 31%, but also the greyhounds are racing more often on average, up 27% on the previous year, with some of them backing up from meeting to meeting.

On average, each trainer is able to get more starts out of their greyhounds and earn more prize money.

Total turnover has increased in line with the increase in race meetings, and the trends show that the Tuesday meetings have become more popular compared to last year as well. 

“Since Racing Queensland gave us the trial period to have a second meeting, it has just boomed, the industry has boomed in Townsville,” Heath said.

“We have had a number of trainers give up their full-time jobs outside of the industry to take up full-time training because they can now earn a decent living racing twice a week.

“The trial period really produced and we have so many more dogs up here now and a higher standard of dogs - faster dogs.

“The industry is going ahead in leaps and bounds.”

Long-time Townsville trainer Matthew McGuire believes the greyhound industry has gone from strength-to-strength since he began in the game.

“I have noticed a big difference in the racing up here from when I first started until now,” McGuire said.

“The depth is quite strong right now; the top dogs are city class and they are paying good money for them.

“If you are coming to Townsville to expect a dog of yours to go through the grades, you better be prepared to get a really handy one.

“There are some really nice dogs around, with the two meetings a week the Club has been successful of late.”

McGuire thinks the increased presence of top trainers such as Brad Belford and others have added to the standard and depth of the dogs racing in north Queensland.

Races

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Townsville | Townsville Greyhound Racing Club | 12:00 PM

TAB

R8-Excuse-Me-Jack-Presentation.jpgMcGuire, who is dual-licensed as a greyhound and thoroughbred trainer, says there is many volunteers down at the TGRC who have worked hard for years to get the Club to where it is today.

Having commenced a three-month trial for a second weekly meeting in Townsville in late June of last year, RQ soon confirmed it will then be ongoing with coverage secured through Sky Racing.

Townsville continue to conduct its Friday afternoon meetings every fortnight and every other week, running its second weekly meeting on a Saturday morning, paving the way for new audiences to be introduced to Queensland greyhound racing.

Heath, who was previously on the RQ greyhound industry advisory panel, is seeing increased levels of investment into the industry by trainers and connections, purchasing more expensive dogs over the last year.

When on the advisory panel, Heath pushed for a second meeting at his local club and believes that if they were given the opportunity to race a third meeting a week, they could fill the fields and race at a high level.

“We are seeing numbers of greyhounds increasing every week in trials and in races,” Heath said.

“Our local dogs can now match it with the best of them in Brisbane, a lot of dogs come up from down south to Townsville and they will struggle to win races.”

Townsville Greyhound Racing Club Secretary Jackie Belford says the north Queensland club is punching above their weight in the wagering space over the last year.

“The increase is dramatic in terms of wagering,” Belford said of the Club’s second meeting.

“It is not just the locals, it is wide reaching, I have people ringing the office during race meetings from all over Australia and the world, asking for times and details about our races.

“A lot of our turnover is from overseas, as well as other areas of Australia.”

Jackie Belford, who is new to her role with TGRC and the industry, is focusing on supporting owners and trainers in Townsville.

Earlier this year, the Club introduced its new ‘Tropical Fridays’ series on Sky Racing.
 
Under the concept, every second week, when Townsville hosts its new Friday afternoon timeslot, trainers and handlers wear Hawaiian or floral shirts when boxing or catching their dogs.

While wearing colourful shirts may seem like just a bit of fun, Heath thinks it helps boost the profile of the code.

“We want to be fun and be progressive and look a little different when you watch greyhound racing from Townsville,” the club president said.

“There are people not involved in industry that we want to come into dogs and when they see the club doing fun stuff like this, hopefully that is attractive towards bringing in new participants and punters.”

Races

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Townsville | Townsville Greyhound Racing Club | 2:12 PM

STEPHEN & RHONDA