Victoria’s 2020 coursing season opened with a full card of 12 events at Lang Lang on Sunday, and among the coursing faithful delighted to see the return of the code was Diane Ireland.
Based in Knowsley (around 30km out of Bendigo), Ireland has been a passionate coursing participant since the 1970s, and she had a successful outing.
Her greyhound Secret Thoughts won Event 3 (Kingston Trophies Maiden – Mixed) with a ‘walkover’, while another of her competitors, Stareena finished runner-up to Secret Bliss in Event 4 (LLCC Maiden -Mixed).
It was the first crack at coursing for both greyhounds, and Stareena is a younger half-sister of staying star Blazing Cartier, who last week contested the G1 Sandown Cup final (715m).
“Wherever there’s a coursing meeting, I do my utmost to be there,” Diane said. “It’s been the ‘staple’ of greyhound racing for many years – and it does the greyhounds the world of good!”
Diane added that coursing “definitely sharpens them up physically – and mentally – for the track. It puts their mind on the job and gives them extra fitness for the track… And it’s such an enjoyable and friendly atmosphere.”
Harking back almost 50 years in coursing, Diane – who has competed in Waterloo Cup and Victorian Oaks/Derby meetings – vividly recalls champions such as Abrupt and Rambler, just to name a couple.
“When I was younger, I wanted to buy a harness racing horse… But I was advised it was an expensive hobby, so I opted for a greyhound. I really got into greyhound racing by default, but I’m so glad I did,” Diane said.
“I also trained racecaller Rob Testa’s first greyhounds… I’ll probably keep going in the sport until I drop.”
While preference was offered to maidens and puppies for Sunday’s meeting, with the season launching under new race-day protocols because of COVID-19.
Coursing now heads to Longwood on Queen’s Birthday weekend with Week 1 of the Victorian Derby and Victorian Oaks – along with the Bert Clark Memorial and Longwood Cup – on Sunday, June 14.
Incidentally, 2019 Victorian Coursing Greyhound of the Year, Barracuda Fozz, won Event 1 (LLCC All Aged – Mixed) at Lang Lang on Sunday.
Victorian coursing: New race-day protocols
- Attendance restricted to trainers with runners engaged (or a rep), catchers, accredited media and essential staff, officials and management – No children; unless engaged as a catcher. (Attendees must be licensed persons)
- If rooms required, social distancing room capacities to be adhered to as 4m2 per person.
- Stewards and club staff to manage marshalling procedures to ensure social distancing is maximised.
- All people entering the track on race day will be subject to health checks including temperature testing, with people reading a high temperature not admitted to the track.
- Participants are expected to maintain social distancing and not congregate. If they remain in the area surrounding their vehicle/trailer while not actively involved or watching courses this will be achieved.
- The marshalling area which is already an outdoor area will be significantly increased in size to enable the required social distancing.
- Only one event will be called up at a time rather than the standard two to minimise numbers of dogs and handlers in the now larger marshalling area.
- The process of bringing dogs up to the slips will be changed to ensure only one greyhound is bought up at a time. Red collar will always be brought up on the left side of the slipper and once secured, the white collar will be brought up on the right side and secured.
Bar, kitchen & function rooms
- As per licensed venue regulations, all bar and food facilities are closed.
- Participants are required to vacate the venue once their greyhound/s have finished competing for the day.
2020 COURSING SEASON – FIRST FOUR MEETINGS
SUNDAY 31 MAY – LANG LANG
Standard Meeting (Preference to Puppies)
SUNDAY 14 JUNE – LONGWOOD
Victorian Derby and Victorian Oaks (Week 1);
Bert Clark Memorial;
SUNDAY 21 JUNE – LONGWOOD
Victorian Derby and Victorian Oaks (Week 2);
JN Smith Memorial;
SUNDAY 5 JULY – LONGWOOD
Slips to Boxes – Longwood to Shepparton