By Paul Dolan
There’s been a real resurgence of interest in straight track greyhound racing in recent years.
Capalaba in Queensland and Healesville in Victoria have been upgraded to TAB status. They have been joined by the new Murray Bridge straight track in South Australia. And Richmond west of Sydney is due to commence straight track racing on Saturday mornings with TAB and Sky coverage very shortly.
Now that the prizemoney is so good at the straight tracks, the quality of greyhounds racing there is on the rise. Minimal race interference keeps punters happy and involved. Guess what? There is more straight track racing planned.
The Greater Brisbane complex at Ipswich will have a straight course and two circular tracks. It’s due to open in 2024.
Chinderah on the Northern Rivers will be the new home of the former Tweed Heads club which raced at Border Park. A straight track, possibly 400 metres in length, is proposed there as well as a circle track. That might be in 2024 or later as well, such is the complexity of the process of getting various regulatory requirements approved. But Greater Brisbane and Chinderah are works in progress.
A number of former straight tracks have closed so, in a fashion, we are now playing catchup. Those closed include Loganholme in Queensland, Kulpara in South Australia, Wyong, Appin and Wentworth in New South Wales. That’s Wentworth in the state’s far south west, not Wentworth Park in Sydney.
Appin, situated in the southern highlands of New South Wales, closed in 2014. Anyone who attended Appin between 1979 and 1982 might recall the racecaller. It was Ray Hadley, nowadays a high profile radio presenter who can influence just about anyone including Prime Ministers.
“Appin was run by an iron-fisted old bloke from the GBOTA named Jock McDonald,’’ Hadley said.
“His wife ran the catering and it was the only decent meal I got all week when she made me a roast for lunch on a Saturday before I called 15 races for $34.50 after tax.’’
“At the time I was driving a cab on Friday night to survive, having given up my job as an auctioneer to try and make a go of broadcasting. I would drive the cab till 4am, grab some sleep and then go to Appin about 11 am. After the races, I would jump into the cab and start work again.
“One time I asked Jock for a pay rise from the $34.50. He looked me up and down and said if I stopped catching a cab there every Saturday I’d have more money. When I told him I was actually driving the taxi he upped my pay to $40. They were great times at Appin.’’
Capalaba club once had a saying on the front of its racebook – horse racing is the sport of kings, greyhound racing is for the rest of us. Nowadays, the club’s catchphrase is – Keep It Straight.
Any why not?