3, Heather Cottages, Frimley Rd, Ash Vale. Surrey. GU12 5NP

 

Press Release 27 August 2002

 

The recent heat stress related death of a greyhound at Catford (Football Focus, 17 August 2002) has again brought the standard of kennelling facilities at NGRC licensed tracks under public scrutiny.  Owners at several other tracks have also raised concerns that facilities fall well below those that might be expected in the greyhound industry today.  UGO has asked the NGRC to urgently examine the standards they require from such kennelling facilities.  

There must also be considered the question of security.  Do most kennel blocks provide an environment where owner, trainer and the betting public can have full confidence in the security of their dog when entrusted to the care of the track before and after racing?  

UGO has received a copy of a complaint made to the NGRC by Tom Flaherty, one of our members, about the lack of security of the kennels at Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium, following a positive sample for Hexamine in his dog Knockeevan King during the second round of this years Derby. UGO has established from a leading Veterinary source that Hexamine administered to a greyhound in the hours prior to racing will detrimentally affect the dog’s performance. Mr Flaherty travelled on a 900 mile round trip to compete at Wimbledon. His dog opened at 4/5 Fav, closed at 5/4 and finished last. 

The complaint relates specifically to the lack of security provided at Wimbledon due to the fact that all dogs are kennelled in an open area.  Each kennel has a mesh grille front for ventilation. This type of kennel can allow unauthorised access to the greyhound whilst it is not in the control of the trainer prior to racing. UGO shares Mr Flaherty's concern that kennel arrangements at NGRC licensed tracks can allow access to the greyhounds due to a poor security regime. 

Considerable unrest exists within greyhound racing regarding the situation where the NGRC perceive that forbidden substances are only administered by the trainer, the Michael Wilmore case is a recent prime example of this. Until we have proper security and air conditioned kennels the Greyhound Charter is not being complied with. 

Trainers who suspect interference with their dogs are unwilling to report concerns, because NGRC rules clearly leave the responsibility with the trainer, and the presence of unauthorised substances in the dog results in a hefty fine. 

UGO fully supports Mr Flaherty in his efforts to expose the considerable short comings in NGRC licensed track kennel facilities, as it is clear considering the pattern of expenditure by the British Greyhound Racing Fund that greyhound welfare is not a particularly high priority compared with restaurant extensions and toilet refurbishment. This is no longer acceptable. 

The NGRC are also guilty of approving these second rate kennels where dogs are dying and open to interference, and cannot any longer be considered independent in this matter. It is UGO's considered opinion that the NGRC have thus failed the greyhounds, trainers, owners and the betting public in favour of the promoters and that they can no longer in their present form continue to oversee our sport. 

UGO demands no more BGRF money be given to promoters for projects other than welfare related issues such as new kennel facilities, and we suggest the NGRC, BGRB and promoters take a day trip to Cork Greyhound Track in Ireland where General Manager, Noel Holland will show them the type of economical, air conditioned, secure kennels that our dogs, trainers, owners and betting public deserve.  

An Independent body should be asked to give an informed opinion on standards at our tracks.  This would show that the sport had progressed this matter in a diligent and fair manner.  Surely it is inappropriate for the NGRC Stewards to sit in sole judgement on a matter such as this?

 

Note 

Union of Greyhound Owners
29 Highcliffe Road
Grantham
Lincs
NG31 8DS 

(01476) 402628 

A video of the facilities at Cork is available. 

Complaint from Mr Flaherty attached.

National Greyhound Racing Club Ltd.,

Twyman House,

16 Bonny Street,

London,

NW1 9QD.

26th August 2002

Dear Sir,

In accordance with Rule 168 of the NGRC Rules of Racing, I hereby write to complain about the following Licence Holders.

(1) Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium

(11)Mr Simon Harris Racing Operations Manager W.G.S.

WIMBLEDON GREYHOUND STADIUM KENNELS

Wimbledon kennels do not provide sufficient security of the greyhound prior to racing, due to the greyhound being kept in a kennel with a front metal mesh grille, which provides the ventilation. The possibility therefore exists for a liquid substance to be transferred between the general kennel area and the greyhound, either accidentally or intentionally.

On Saturday the 11th May 2002, the second round of the English Derby, there were 75 dogs kennelled in an open room facility, with 38 licensed trainers plus associated staff (assistant trainers, kennel hands etc) One Racing Manager, One Stipendiary Steward, Three Local Stewards, Two Paddock Stewards and One Vet. That is some 70-100 licensed individuals coming and going and all with a form of direct access to the greyhounds. This I submit is unacceptable security especially in a competition such as the Derby with Seventy Five Thousand Pounds to the winner and millions of pounds being bet on the outcome of the competition.

WIMBLEDON GREYHOUND STADIUM SECURITY

At no time during that said evening, or the 4thMay 2002, were my kennel hand or I challenged to produce our NGRC Licences, despite three or four visits to the kennels. On kennelling my dog I asked permission to bring in a rug from our vehicle as a kennel bed. I was directed out of an unmanned door by the Steward directly into the car park. I returned to the kennel area by the same route unchallenged.

Mr Harris, Racing Manager of Wimbledon Stadium in his statement to the NGRC regarding the Knockeevan King inquiry comments, “A CCTV system is installed in the racing paddock giving a complete view of all kennels from the Stewards box (warning signs to such effect are shown on all access doors)”, I submit that CCTV and warning signs without recording is unacceptable especially during the Derby, and his claim that the Stewards box can watch 75 kennels with between 70-100 persons in the kennel at any time, and run a race meeting lacks credibility, and as such demands an investigation by the Stewards of the NGRC.

Following the positive urine sample from my dog, Wimbledon Stadium were unable to provide any video recording of the evening of the 11th May. I submit that this lack of security constitutes neglect in Wimbledon Stadium’s duty of care to the greyhounds, trainers, owners, and betting public.

Mr SIMON HARRIS

Mr Harris in his statement to the NGRC Stewards in regards to the inquiry into the positive sample from Knockeevan King on the 11th May 2002 says “Wimbledon Stadium Kennels are constructed such that nothing can be administered to a greyhound without the kennel being unlocked and opened”. This statement is blatantly incorrect and bearing in mind the seniority of Mr Harris, is at best naïve, and at worst one could assume it may have been made to influence the Stewards of the NGRC, and therefore prejudice the complainant. I respectfully request the Stewards investigate fully the said statement by Mr Harris.

In accordance with Rule 168, I enclose two cheques for Twenty-Five Pounds each to accompany this complaint against the two Licence Holders. If the Stewards consider that of under Rule 168 Twenty-Five Pound deposit is sufficient, please destroy one cheque.

Finally, as a matter of courtesy I have sent a copy of the complaints to Mr Harris Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium, and Mr Gardner Union of Greyhound Owners, of which I am a member.

 

Yours faithfully,

Thomas Flaherty.

 

STATEMENT BY SIMON HARRIS

Para 1. Agreed

Para 2. Noted

Para 3. Mr Harris states that “Wimbledon Stadium Kennels are constructed such that nothing can be administered to a greyhound without the kennel being unlocked and opened”.

This is not only a most naïve statement from a Senior Manager of the G.R.A. that operates the majority of NGRC Licensed tracks in Britain, but factually an incorrect one, and is indicative of the attitude that perceives that “interference” with greyhounds is only a Trainer or his kennel problem.

The stark fact is that Wimbledon Kennels do not provide full security of the greyhound prior to racing, when the greyhound is in their care. This is primarily because the greyhound is housed in a kennel with a front metal mesh grille, which provides the ventilation. It is therefore possible for a liquid substance to be transferred between the general kennel area and the dog, either accidentally, or intentionally.

On Saturday the 11th May there were approximately 75 dogs kennelled in an open room facility, with 38 Licensed Trainers plus associated staff (Assistant Trainers, Kennel hands etc) 1 Racing Manager, 1 Stipendiary, 3 Local Stewards, 2 Paddock Stewards and 1 Vet. That is approximately 100 licensed individuals coming and going and all with a form of access to greyhounds competing in the Derby with Seventy Five Thousand Pounds to the winner and millions of pounds being bet on the outcome. I suggest it is a situation akin to running a busy pub, with a biscuit tin instead of a till, and expecting no pilfering.

At no time during that said evening were my wife or I challenged to produce our NGRC Licence nor on the 4th May 2002 at the first round of the Derby were I or my Licensed Training companion, Bryce Wilson asked to produce them despite three or four visits to the kennels (a statement from Mr Wilson is enclosed)

On kennelling the dog I asked permission to bring in a downie from our vehicle as a kennel bed I was directed out of an unmanned door by a Steward directly into the car park. I returned to the kennel by the same route unchallenged.

Para4 Mr Harris states “ a CCTV system is installed in the racing paddock giving a complete view of all kennels from the Stewards box (warning signs to such effect are shown on all access doors)” This is unacceptable security, Wimbledon were unable despite my request to produce any recording of that evenings kennel area whilst the greyhounds were kennelled. I submit that CCTV and warning signs without recording is unacceptable, and his claim that the Stewards box can watch 75 Kennels with 100 persons in Wimbledon kennel area beggar’s belief. I have over the years examined track kennels on site in Ireland, America and Australia and nowhere in controlled racing have I seen security as weak as that operated at Wimbledon Stadium.

Para 5 Noted

Para 6. Although the Starter made no report on the subject, it is a fact that Knockeevan King caused a disturbance on being loaded into traps. It was clearly seen on the Internet, and Wimbledon’s inter track coverage. (Witness statements to this effect are enclosed).

Para 7. The Wimbledon Veterinary Surgeon was not sought out for consultation as Knockeevan King only showed distress signs comparable to a greyhound that had run beyond his race distance. Having competed with dogs in Irelands top open coursing events subsequently training three major winners, including the Munster Open Coursing Championship, I was well used to seeing dogs in a similar condition to Knockeevan King on that night, and accordingly had the knowledge and skill to aid the dogs recovery without recourse to the Vet. It was not until the journey home that I have put all the facts together, which indicated to me possible interference.

Para 8. Mr Harris indicates Knockeevan King was sent of as the 5/4 Fav, but does not mention in that paragraph that the dog opened at 4/5 Fav and was clearly friendless before eventually closing at 5/4 in a five-dog race. He was untouched at the first bend contrary to Mr Harris’s statement, was at the tail of the field with trap 1 whom he crowded with exiting the fourth bend, was last in the race and to the pick up. (Video evidence). This race should be compared with Knockeevan King ‘s first round heat where he was bumped at the first, yet ran on strongly to be six clear at pick up (video evidence).

It is my intention at the inquiry on 10th September to provide video evidence that will substantiate my allegations that Wimbledon’s Kennels do not provide sufficient security, and therefore lack provision of a proper duty of care to the greyhound, trainer, owner, and betting public.