Activists' eyes turn to Murray Bridge greyhound track

Murray Bridge has taken on additional races this year, but more dogs have died there than at almost any other Australian venue.

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Those concerned about greyhound racing have highlighted the increased deaths at Murray Bridge this year due to additional races. Photo: Greyhound Coalition.

Murray Bridge Greyhound Racing Club has welcomed a rise in events this year, but animal rights activists say it has come at a cost.

With the home of greyhound racing in South Australia, Angle Park, closed for redevelopment, Murray Bridge has been hosting an additional race meeting every week plus a further meet every three weeks.

With each meet usually consisting of 12 races, this has meant as many as 48 races take place in a single week at the site which opened just over two and a half years ago.

With more races, though, have come more deaths at the track, with six dogs dying as a result of races in Murray Bridge so far this year.

Nationwide, only Brisbane’s Albion Park has seen more deaths due to racing so far this year, having recorded seven, according to the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds.

Overall in South Australia there have been 12 deaths as of July 20, an increase from 10 at this same point last year.

However, there was some impact to the amount of races held to this point last year due to COVID.

Greyhound Racing SA CEO Matt Corby said that the design of the Murray Bridge track aimed to provide the best possible standard for racing.

“The design of both the one-turn and straight tracks at Murray Bridge adhere to a best-practice modern standard and the learnings that have been identified by the University of Technology Sydney in research commissioned nationally,” Mr Corby said.

“GRSA has invested millions of dollars into research and track re-design to ensure that greyhounds are racing on the best possible surfaces and that injury rates are minimised.”

Murray Bridge offers both a curved and straight track for racing, with the straight track set to host state qualifying for the National Straight Track Championships in the coming fortnight.

Annie Hendley, South Australian Director of the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds, said the use of curved tracks was a leading cause of injuries leading to euthanasia.

“All SA greyhound races should be run at the straight track to reduce death and injury,” Ms Hendley said.

“The racing industry’s own university research shows that straight tracks are safer than curved ones.”

Greyhound Racing SA declined to respond to questions asked about the use of straight versus curved tracks, but did highlight how the different tracks allow for even competition.

“Different track designs cater for subtle differences in greyhound racing traits and are an important part of a diversified track strategy to provide opportunities for all greyhounds to race,” Mr Corby said.

“The lack of a turn on a straight track may be of some advantage to older dogs or ones that have had hock soreness. 

“The one-turn track will often suit larger dogs, by virtue of the sweeping nature of the turn.”

GRSA went on to detail how the sport contributes more than $60 million to the state economy annually including 500 full time employees, and has compulsory requirements to rehome every healthy greyhound in SA whether they have raced or not.

Due to the COVID restrictions brought in on Tuesday, no spectators are currently allowed at the Murray Bridge track for races or trials.

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