The Valley Greyhound Stadium has a “rounded rectangle” design and does not have constant-radius bends. This creates particularly dangerous “tight spots” (shown in red) where dogs get in to difficulty trying to negotiate the bends at high speed. A constant-radius bend (shown in green) would be required to reduce risk, however it would extend outside the current boundary of the site. Questions have been raised over why the track was licensed for racing in its current condition.
Over the last two weeks trials have recommenced at the Valley, Wales’ only greyhound track, in advance of the start of Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) licensed racing. Results published on the GBGB website for 18 October trials show that once again the track’s notorious first bend has seen another dog crash out.
Shooter McGavin, a 34 kg two and a half year old black dog is listed as BBmp&Fell1 null(dis). These abbreviations are part of a system used by the greyhound racing fraternity to describe what happens in both trials and races so that bookmakers and punters can assess a dog’s form. In this case BBmp&Fell1 null(dis) means badly bumped and fell on the first bend, did not complete the distance. Others trialled are listed as having been crowded, stumbled or forced to check to avoid running into another dog.
Until recently the Valley was an unlicensed ‘flapping’ track. It was well known for the poor design of the track and the number of dogs seriously injured or which had to be euthanised as a result of collisions and falls, particularly on the first bends. So infamous was the bend that promotional material for the track, until recently, bragged about it being “eye-wateringly sharp.” Indeed, GRW’s Last Hope Fund has saved the lives of many injured dogs from the Valley over the years, paying for essential medical treatment such as plating or amputating broken limbs.
As we reported in our previous blog post “Carnage at Valley”, the track reopened under GBGB regulation in August with a sales trial and auction of around 50 Irish greyhounds, attracting widespread criticism and concern over the safety of the track from both within and outside the “sport”. Many dogs lost their footing, collided with one another or ran into the rails and surrounding walls. Indeed two dogs had to be physically carried off the track, one of which, Know The Danger, we believe was seriously injured.
An admission of fault
Following this GRW, as part of the #CutTheChase coalition, wrote to GBGB raising serious concerns about GBGB’s licencing procedures and the safety of the Valley track. Despite claiming its licensing procedures followed a “robust and thorough” process, GBGB were forced to admit that trials had been halted at the track, which they had licensed only weeks previously, whilst further changes were made to the first and second bend. Sadly these changes did not prove effective.
Another dog fallen
Trials resumed on 11 October and only a week later we now know that another dog has fallen at the first bend and failed to finish the course. As GBGB keeps secret details of injuries and deaths at tracks such as the Valley, we currently have no way of knowing what injuries Shooter McGavin sustained or indeed if they are still alive. We will, however, be writing to their trainer asking for them to explain what has happened to Shooter McGavin and informing them of GRW’s Last Hope Fund.
The Welsh Government is publicly committed to consulting on the future of greyhound racing later this year. For dogs such as Shooter McGavin, however, a ban on greyhound racing in Wales cannot come soon enough.