By Greyhound Clubs Australia Executive Officer TROY HARLEY

THE 2022 Nationals – Sensational Sydney – will be staged in the Harbour City from August 25-27 and will lay the platform for what dawns as the greatest era in greyhound racing in Australasia.

The sport/industry is already on a high with record prizemoney, breeding numbers and quality on the rise and a real positive glow surrounding us.

How often do you hear the comment: ‘There has never been a better time to be in greyhounds.’    

It’s an exciting time. But any growth must be carefully managed and that’s where The Nationals play such a crucial role.

Since the first Nationals (in Sydney) in 1965, the highlight has been the race meeting – the National Sprint and Distance Championships. This year, there is an added bonus, the Straight Track Championship Final.

While the prizemoney for these events – $75,000 for first place in the sprint and distance and $25,000 in the straight track – may pale when compared to other big dollar events across the nation, the prestige of representing your state and be crowned the Nationals winner still holds a powerful attraction.

But what has changed at The Nationals is that this gathering is now not only a true meeting place for all voices within the industry, but it is also a key stage for the current major issues to be debated, discussed and explored.

The Symposium, introduced at the last nationals, in Perth in 2019 (before Covid struck), is the central staging point for an open forum on these issues. This year topics will include: the evolution of television coverage in sport and racing; customer engagement on social media; E-tracking; and technology in track data and track preparation.

There will be experts presenting on all topics.

 The Symposium is a free event and will be held on Thursday, August 25, at the National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour.

On the Friday (August 26), numerous organisations who come under the greyhound banner will be holding their own gatherings.

The Friday night GCA’s gala dinner will be held at Doltone House, Hyde Park, where major awards such as Greyhound of the Year, Trainer of the Year, Sire of the Year, Paul Wheeler Dam of the Year and Run of the Year will be presented. New inductees into the GCA Hall of Fame will also be announced.

The Straight Track Championships will be held at Richmond on the morning of August 27 and the sprint and distance Nationals will be run and won at Wentworth Park that night.

The Nationals also highlights the importance of Greyhound Clubs Australia, especially as an advocate for all clubs in Australasia.

We need to constantly have the true agenda of clubs at the forefront and to make all other organisations truly aware of what that agenda is and do our best to ensure that agenda is carried out.

Of course, the Group racing calendar is a key role of GCA. I believe that the proliferation of big dollar races is an indication of the strength and growth of the industry and should be applauded, especially when you compare that same scenario with 10 years ago.

However, we do need to be acutely aware of the smaller states and their needs, so that for their one week of the year the spotlight still shines directly on them.

It is not necessarily about the prizemoney dollars or the dogs that the smaller states may miss out on, it is about the lost publicity and profile.

When you have a look across the program at this year’s Nationals you can understand why this event plays such an important role in our industry. Not only is it a showcase for the best, but now it is also such an important arena for setting our course into the future.

And a major part of that are the relationships that are born and fostered during The Nationals. Like most long-lasting relationships in life, they are seldom cemented in a boardroom or in a conference hall. Most often they are sparked over a coffee/beer, a chance meeting, a chat in a corridor, amid laughs at a social gathering or across a table piled with glasses and plates and not meeting agendas.

And this is the real worth of The Nationals. This is the forum where people from different greyhound walks meet and truly understand what others in our sport are trying to achieve.

These relationships between trainer and board member, owner and club manager, club volunteer and media representative are what will bring our industry closer together.

The more we move as one the far more we will achieve for everyone.

So, see you at Sensational Sydney.

(For a more information on The Nationals: www.2022nationals.com.au)