Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) is set to trial an alternative lure system and operational protocol on race days and at trial sessions following extensive research into alternative lures that has been taking place since 2013.
The trialling of the Finish-On-Lure (FOL) protocol has been mooted for some time with industry feedback being mixed on the need for the new process. The decision to implement the trial was accelerated following recommendations from the Racing Integrity Commissioner (RIC) that GRV analyse the effectiveness of new lure systems to help greyhounds to consistently chase.
Recommendation 3: Racing Integrity Commissioner Interim Report – 11 March 2015
The initiating of a review and trial by GRV of alternate methods to assist Greyhounds to consistently chase the lure and perform at their best e.g. ‘run on’ and ‘hoop’ lures.
Recommendation 3: Racing Integrity Commissioner Final Report – 11 June 2015
That GRV undertake a comprehensive review and trial of alternative methods to assist Greyhounds to consistently chase the lure and perform at their best e.g. ‘run on’ and ‘hoop’ lures.
Three elements that are part of the overall operation of the lure system will be in place throughout the race trials which will begin in mid-August and run for at least eight weeks.
Firstly, the FOL protocol sees greyhounds finish ‘on the lure’ whereby they continue to follow the lure as it slows down at the completion of the race until they reach it in the back straight. The theory driving this protocol is that it rewards greyhounds for their efforts and they continue to try their best at subsequent runs because they know they can get that reward. This is in contrast to the current protocol at race end whereby the lure speeds away from the greyhounds and they finish in a catching pen and are rewarded by a synthetic lure that is thrown on the ground in the catching pen.
Secondly, the trial will incorporate the use of an arched lure arm, often referred to as a ‘hoop arm’, that extends 1.5 metres from the running rail as opposed to the current straight lure arm which extends 1 metre from the rail and protrudes parallel to the ground. Many prototypes of the hoop arm have been designed and tested due to the extra load applied to the lure carriage and the rail. Lightweight materials that didn’t adversely affect the operation of the lure carriage were tested with rolled aluminium finally proving to be the most appropriate solution.
The new system also positions the lure arm higher at 1.2 metres from the ground as compared to the current system which is approx 30-40 centimetres. The new height is as much animal welfare as it is about racing conditions. The lure arm has to be high enough so that greyhounds finishing onto the lure run underneath the arm structure that supports the lure material with the intention that it will reduce the rate and severity of injuries sustained post race.
The length and height of the new lure system has been designed so the greyhounds have a better line of sight for the lure and maintain a truer running position reducing their desire to move toward the rail and potentially causing interference. Throughout the development a 1 metre, 1.5 metre and even a 2 metre hoop arm were developed with the 1.5 metre being chosen. In theory, greyhounds will be able to maintain sight of the lure for longer periods during the race and perform at their best as a result.
Thirdly the lure itself, currently a polyurethane plastic mould shaped like a rabbit with a synthetic cover, will change to synthetic wool which is an artificial material similar to a car seat cover. This material will dangle from the end of the hoop arm and flap. Significantly it is this flapping of the lure that attracts the attention of the greyhound as they are sight hounds.
Approximate dimensions of the current lure and the FOL lure (metrics may differ marginally between tracks)
Image of the current and FOL systems together (picture taken at Geelong)
Public trials have been held at six Victorian tracks with trainers willing to trial their greyhounds with the system. There has been positive feedback so far for the new lure and the input of trainers has been extremely valuable throughout the development process.
GRV Racing Manager, Scott Robins, hopes that members will embrace the trial in order for GRV to get as much feedback and data as possible in order to make an educated fact based decision as to the future lure system to be used in Victoria.
“There has been a significant amount of research that has gone into the materials, design and protocols that will be implemented for this trial. We thank the members that have assisted us in the lead up to this trial and appreciate all the feedback we have received from our consultations.
“As always the safety of the greyhounds is paramount and the provision of clean and fair racing for all stakeholders are key objectives of this trial,” Mr Robins said.
Currently, the plan is for the lure to be used for one meeting a week beginning at Geelong GRC on Tuesday 18 August with races conducted on the outside track out of the 400m and 460m boxes only. This meeting will be run with Full Provincial Stakes in order to give all greyhounds the opportunity to run with the new system.
The Geelong GRC will be conducting blocks of trials with the new FOL at the end of each of their weekly trial sessions in the lead up to 18 August with participants encouraged to participate in these trials prior to potentially racing behind the new lure.
GRV will continually monitor the new system and analyse statistics that are collated through the running of FOL meetings. Key indicators such as the number of nominations received at the FOL meetings, the number FOL trials, and detailed reporting of injuries and incidents during the trial will all form part of the evaluation process.
Members that engage their greyhounds in races and trials during the evaluation period will be surveyed for their opinion also. GRV is committed to consulting with members throughout this process.
Member feedback on the FOL is also welcomed and can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Initial prototype testing:
Initial testing with a new lure design was held at Sandown GRC on Wednesday 18 March 2015. This initial session was held with the assistance of trainer Robert Britton who provided the greyhounds to trial with the new lure.
Following the initial testing, the lure was further engineered and public trials were held with the updated lure.
Public trials held with the new FOL during development phase:
- Tuesday 24 March 2015: Sandown GRC
- Tuesday 31 March 2015: Ballarat GRC
- Tuesday 7 April 2015: Geelong GRC
- Wednesday 15 April 2015: Warragul GRC
- Thursday 1 May 2015: Shepparton GRC
- Commencing Saturday 1 August 2015 and offered at all trial sessions at Geelong, book direct with the Geelong GRC on (03) 5275 2298
Proposed first race meeting:
- Tuesday 18 August 2015: Geelong GRC (outside track, 400m & 460m starts only)
Length of trial:
- 8 weeks