The Grafton Greyhound Racing Club are set to have a much quieter July than usual with the annual racing carnival put on ice. Picture: Craig Golding/Greyhound Racing NSW
The Grafton Greyhound Racing Club are set to have a much quieter July than usual with the annual racing carnival put on ice. Picture: Craig Golding/Greyhound Racing NSW

July Racing Carnival goes to the dogs

GREYHOUNDS :Grafton Greyhound Racing Club has been forced to cancel the annual July Racing Carnival as uncertainty over COVID-19 restrictions remain.

GGRC president, John Corrigan, was disappointed to have to make the decision at this stage, but said it was made to avoid any further issues as coronavirus remains a threat.

“With the situation as it is at the moment, we had no option but to cancel the carnival and hold races behind closed doors,” Corrigan said.

“We don’t know when the restrictions will be lifted. People start arriving in early June from Melbourne and southern NSW so to be fair on everyone, in consultation with Greyhound Racing NSW, we’ve made the call early.

“I’m extremely disappointed. I’ve been going for 50 odd years now, probably longer, and I don’t think it’s ever been cancelled in that time.”

Corrigan said the move will also hurt the Clarence Valley as July is one of the busiest time for tourism and business in the region.

“Those people that come here for the carnival, they spend a lot of money in town, so this will also have a negative effect on out economy,” he said.

“We could have left it and people could have arranged to get here but it’s a huge effort for everyone involved an it just wasn’t worth the risk.”

Grafton hasn’t been the only club to cancel a major carnival in the coming months, with a slew of other tracks around Australia in the same situation.

Corrigan said it was a setback for the club, but he said was pleased the sport could still continue behind closed doors.

“The whole industry looks forward to July. It’s not just us, there are other meetings like the national championships around the place that have had to be cancelled as well. We’re just glad we can continue racing,” he said.

As state restrictions went into place over the last month, the Grafton club have enjoyed a feast of meets on their own turf, with up to three a week on the Clarence track and Corrigan said the quality has been as high as ever.

“The racing has been very good. We’ve had plenty of nominations and some really great results,” he said.

Corrigan was thankful for the co-operation of all those involved in keeping the industry alive and well during the pandemic,

“It’s been great. People have been doing the right thing with social distancing. They’ve been well aware of what they have to do and everyone is working together,” he said.