BENDIGO region greyhound trainers have enjoyed an off the track win as the industry continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With many trainers facing financial hardship, Greyhound Clubs Victoria (GCV)and Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) have stepped in to provide participants with a significant quantity of subsidised dog food.
The industry bodies combined to source 1000 x 20kg bags of feed, which were allocated for distribution at four clubs across the state - Bendigo, Shepparton, Warrnambool and Warragul.
Bendigo Greyhound Racing Association chief executive Troy Harley said the club had been allocated 320 bags, most of which were sold on Wednesday.
"We have 14 left (as of Friday morning) and I'm sure they will be gone by today," he said.
Harley described the initiative as a 'goodwill gesture' to trainers for abiding to strict new protocols governing the conduct of race meetings in Victoria.
"It's a bit of a reward for participants,there are some who are obviously doing things tough," he said.
"There's obviously some with cash flow problems, with starter's fees not being paid on the day, and some struggling with not being able to bring family and friends to the races and not being able to hang around for their normal social day out.
"So this is a bit of appreciation for what they have been going through."
Supplies were limited to four bags per trainer.
GCV chairman Adrian Scott said the initiative ensured the interests of the industry's number one assets - greyhounds and trainers - were looked after.
"Being able to secure a significant quantity of dog food for our greyhounds has been a challenge," he said.
"It is important to understand we have ordered additional stock of dog food, which will not impact our current supply levels."
Harley said the GCV and GRV's offer had been greatly appreciated by trainers.
He praised trainers for their co-operation and compliance during the pandemic, enabling the sport to continue safely.
"We're a bit lucky there has been no change to the schedule as such, obviously some of our feature events had to go by the wayside and there was a bit of toing and froing as to what the racing calendar would look like," he said.
"It actually looks like the calendar is going to remain unchanged unless there is something diabolical happen.
"There will be slight changes to feature race prize money.
"The Bendigo Cup will be run behind closed doors with a slight prize money reduction, but it will still be a Group 2 race worth about $35,000 to the winner.
"The good dogs can still get here. Obviously the (interstate) trainers can't come to Victoria, but they can transfer their dogs to Victorian trainers. So, we will still have the best dogs run here."
Meanwhile, GCV has addressed the need for online industry communication and advice channels, with the development of a new website (https://gcv.org.au/) and a Facebook page for immediate updates.
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