UPDATE 31 August: Greyhound Racing NSW is inviting feedback from the community through its dedicated Dapto Greyhound Project website page. It’s also planning to hold information sessions in the near future.
26 August: An $11 million centre of excellence for greyhound racing in Dapto will be a multi-sports complex, according to Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW).
The organisation’s chief executive officer, Rob Macaulay, said the Bong Bong Rd site would not only be a racing venue with scope for significant community-based usage, it would be multifunctional with the potential for other sports to use the facility. He said a Men’s Shed had already been locked in to use the new centre.
There had been some industry uncertainty about the long-term future of the Dapto greyhounds following an announcement by the A&H Society in 2019 that racing would cease, however the lease was later extended until June 2025.
“The purchase of a new site for Dapto greyhounds will allow us to transition from the current site – which is operated under a lease agreement with Dapto Agricultural and Horticultural Society – and own our own destiny,” Mr Macaulay said.
“Our future plans include a new richest race in the world, new themed classes of races, and meetings for international wagering markets and more.”
Mr Macaulay said stakeholders and residents would be asked for feedback on how the facility could be used by the wider community.
“We’ve done a lot of work that will be seen through a community consultation process and we look forward to engaging with locals about what they too would like the centre to be for the wider community,” he said.
Shellharbour MP Anna Watson is encouraging the community to have its say.
“The Dapto Dogs is a huge part of our community here in the Illawarra, and I’m happy to see that Greyhound Racing NSW is committed to building a brand new facility in Dapto,” she said.
“I encourage everyone to get involved with the community consultation process to ensure the best facility for all in the region.”
The new Dapto site will also have a Greyhounds As Pets (GAPNSW) re-homing facility for retired dogs.
Meanwhile, GRNSW and the Greyhound Welfare & Integrity Commission (GWIC) are taking steps towards safer racing, with double-arm lures being trialled and preferred box draw events underway at the Dapto racetrack.
In early August, GRNSW began a trial period of the double-arm lure at Dapto, while the preferred box draw events will be conducted over the 297-metre distance for fifth grade greyhounds with two races per meeting set aside for the new approach.
Mr Macaulay said, following a summit held in February, a Race Injury Reduction Action Plan was developed to be implemented across the sport for the benefit of racing greyhounds.
“Prominent on the list of key actions was the trial of both the double-arm lure and preferred box draws, with the latter having been proven to be successful in New Zealand in reducing interference and injuries,” he said.
“As we continually say, the welfare of our animals is paramount and, while we have been working on making all of our tracks even safer, we will continue to look at all avenues to make racing safer for our greyhounds.”
GWIC Chief Commissioner Alby Taylor said the trials would enhance the NSW greyhound racing industry’s reputation as a “global leader when it comes to greyhound welfare”.
He said the key purpose of the trials was to determine if double-arm lures could provide multiple focal points for greyhound engagement to encourage straight running.
“In the case of preferred box draw, we hope the dogs will ‘stay in their lanes’ resulting in a significant reduction in racetrack collisions,” he added.
The trials come following the announcement of infrastructure and safety upgrades, proposed for the Nowra racetrack, with the Shoalhaven Greyhound Racing Club set to install a new running rail and lure system.
Mr Macaulay said the Pinebowl track would be upgraded in October by Heavy Industry Solutions.
“This is an important upgrade to the track at Nowra, and one that was desirable in the ongoing chase for world’s best standards,” he said.
“The entire rail at Nowra will be replaced and a new Safechase lure system will also be installed.
“Nowra is already a very safe track, so we are only slightly modifying the system to introduce transitions, improved camber and a brand new design post and rail system.”