If greyhound racing is to prosper it must have a strong community footprint, and events such as the Greyhound Holiday Fun Days program play an integral role in this.
The campaign has attracted around 1700 children and their families to nine Victorian racetracks during the April school holiday period, with the Sale Greyhound Racing Club to host their leg of the promotion this Sunday.
Attractions have included free showbags and meals for kids, inflatable rides, kids karaoke, a big screen video game and the chance to meet Turbo the greyhound. Many of the children also got to handle a greyhound before its race and have a photo on the dais afterwards – among them Laura Carman, who handled Rippin Hayne when the greyhound ran third at The Meadows on April 15.
“The parents all looked so proud as their kids handled a greyhound in the parade ring and walked alongside the dogs down to the starting boxes.”
“Activities like this are so good for families because it’s really hard to find things for kids to do during the school holidays,” said Laura’s mum, Teresa Carman. “A lot of families are on a single wage and keeping kids entertained is quite expensive. The kids even received food vouchers which they exchanged for chicken nuggets and chips, and there was also an Easter egg hunt. To have an event where everything is free is very rare, and it’s pretty amazing to be honest.”
Shannon McDonald was delighted that her daughter Lily got to handle a greyhound at Bendigo on Easter Sunday.
“Parents could put their kids’ names in a barrel for the chance to be a handler on the day and eight names were drawn out with those children allocated a greyhound to handle in a particular race. Lily just happened to draw number one, which was a greyhound called Champion Exhibit, who is trained by my dad (Darren Murray), and he won!”
“I’ve always believed that greyhound racing provides a family-friendly environment, and while Lily has grown up with greyhounds the seven other children handlers all appeared to be interacting with a greyhound for the first time. The kids loved it and I think it’s also great for the trainers because they would feel as though they are potentially helping the next crop of greyhound owners or trainers coming through.”
“The parents all looked so proud as their kids handled a greyhound in the parade ring and walked alongside the dogs down to the starting boxes. The kids were given a VIP view of the race from inside the fence right up close to the boxes and all eight of them got together for a photo with Champion Exhibit after he won, and received a greyhound soft toy at the end. Lily couldn’t wait to get to school to tell her friends all about the experience, and I’m sure all the parents will be telling their friends about it, and the kids will be telling their friends about it as well, so I think this event will only get bigger and better every year.”