Nationals finals cancelled

\"\"Caption: Part of the victory celebrations when Reidy’s Runner won the National Distance Championship at Cannington in 1999, the last time the Nationals were held.

Greyhound Clubs Australia (GCA), in conjunction with the Melbourne Greyhound Racing Association (MGRA) and Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV), has made the decision to cancel the grand finals of the 2021 National Sprint and National Distance Championships.

Both Group 1 events were scheduled to be held at The Meadows on Saturday August 28, but continued Covid 19- related concerns and the recent detection of canine coronavirus in New Zealand has seen the organisers left with little option but to abandon plans amid a constantly evolving setting.

“With many parts of Australia dealing with lockdowns, restrictions and border closures, the hosting of the Nationals has become increasingly problematic and impossible to assure the safety of all our participants,” said GCA Chairman Mr Les Bein.

“If you include greyhounds earning Wildcard entry, up to 14 of the Grand Finalists would be required to travel from interstate or New Zealand adding further layers of complexity.”

“The overriding health message is to reduce mobility and the opportunity of virus transfer, so the last thing we want to do is contribute to settings that require travel and movement of greyhounds and their connections at such a precarious time.”

MGRA Chairman Mr Eddie Caruana said: “Whilst it is very disappointing it would not be responsible to go ahead with the Nationals this year. We have left the decision as late as possible to consider the most up-to-date health and government advice, but allow sufficient notice to the owners and trainers of greyhounds intending to nominate for the series.”

The cancellation follows on-going consultation and unanimous agreement of host club MGRA, host authority GRV and the event owner GCA.

It is expected the various state jurisdictions and New Zealand with still run their respective Finals on Thursday August 12 with a showcase broadcast on Sky Racing 2.

Earlier, GCA Executive Officer David Simonette, commenting on the long-term future of The Nationals, said there had never been any discussion the Nationals would not be an on-going feature of the yearly greyhound racing calendar.

\”Times have changed,\” he admitted. \”I remember when it was initially the Champion of Champions.\”

It gave the nation the chance to see who really was the best sprinter and stayer in the land.

\”Yes,\” admitted Simonette. \”There have been some ramblings about the series being too long.

\”And there is no doubt getting to the finals is a long process and takes a lot of work on behalf of owners and trainers.\”

But, while the $75,000 winner\’s cheque is nothing to be sneezed at, in comparison to the Million Dollar Chase and most other Group 1s, The Nationals are hardly the lure they once were.

Simonette is an avid fan of the series.

\”Yes, I\’d like to see the winner\’s prize rise to $100,000 to make it more comparable to some of the other Group 1s,\” he said.

\”But, you cannot take away the fact so many of those who make the finals of The Nationals are rightly proud of the fact they are representing their states.

\”It is a privilege for them.\”

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