In April 2018, the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) requested submissions regarding the grading and racing of novice greyhounds at licensed stadia as an area for consideration. The grading and racing of novice greyhounds at licensed stadia was also discussed at a meeting of the National Greyhound Consultative Forum in the same month.
Having considered the feedback and submissions received from a subsequent proposal, the IGB amended the National Grading System to reflect the aforementioned feedback and submissions received. Among the suggestions offered was to keep all novice racing at open novice grade.
The IGB has received a large volume of feedback from owners and trainers in respect of the new novice greyhound racing system since its implementation in January 2019. While the initial revisions to the scheme have been received very positively in some quarters, there has been a very strong view expressed that the proposals need to be tweaked to deal with issues that have been identified from the initial roll-out of the scheme.
50 Novice sweepstakes were ran across all tracks between January 1st, 2019 and March 31st, 2019. 1,645 planned runners and reserves were in place for these sweepstakes in the same time period, showing the popularity these events have received.
The Board has assessed the success of the many novice events to have taken place in the first quarter of 2019. The Regulation Committee has met and discussed the issue on two occasions, with the matter also being discussed at the February 2019 and March 2019 monthly Board meetings.
At the April Board meeting, a number of possible amendments to the system were agreed.
These included an applicable age limit to novice racing greyhounds, with an upper age limit of 27 calendar months for greyhounds to be considered for entry into unraced open novice events. Unraced greyhounds above this limit will only be permitted to enter ‘premium’ unraced events (where sweepstake conditions permit) or enter the main racing pool.
Another amendment to be approved included the introduction of three open bands – Open Novice 1 (trial time better than 28.90 or sprint distance equivalent), Open Novice 2 (trial time between 28.90 and 29.79 or sprint distance equivalent) and Open Novice 3 (trial time between 29.80 and 30.70 or sprint distance equivalent). Greyhounds entered for ON1, ON2 and ON3 sweepstakes at any track will not be required to have a trial at the track.
A time finding provision of 1.2 seconds for the middle distance (and 0.6 seconds for the sprint distance), along with condition of entry for both ‘A’ grade and ‘S’ grade sweepstakes being that all greyhounds need to have run a minimum of two races beforehand, were also approved.
CEO of the Irish Greyhound Board, Gerard Dollard, commented: “The IGB engaged in a consultation process with industry stakeholders last year regarding novice greyhounds and implemented a number of suggestions into the national grading system, which took effect in the beginning of 2019. Like any new system, a bedding in process is needed and we welcome the extensive feedback received from owners and trainers. It is hoped that the changes approved by the Board will address the concerns expressed by some industry participants.”
A lead-in period will be required to enable the necessary changes to be made to the Racing Management System and the likely implementation date of the above discussion points in respect of novice racing greyhounds is 4th June 2019.