From Questionable Future to the ‘Flemington’ of Greyhound Racing

No one is more excited about the current $6 Million redevelopment of Glenview Park than the Traralgon Greyhound Racing Club’s Manger, Hec Caruana.

And rightfully so, as the project has been firm in Caruana’s sights since he took over at Traralgon almost five years ago.

The former GRV Director believes the upgrade is integral to the future of greyhound racing in Victoria, and that it has come about from having a long-term vision.

Caruana recently spoke about the redevelopment, which is estimated for completion in March/April 2015.

Q. Greyhound racing started at Glenview Park 40 years and for many years the venue has looked tired and run down. Did you ever question the future of the club?
Hec Caruana: It would be fair to say over the past few years there was significant doubt for the future of the Traralgon Greyhound Racing Club, but that will now become a distant memory when the new track and facilities are opened, and in fact we believe the new beginning for Traralgon will become a key player in the future planning for Greyhound racing in Victoria. I have taken a 30 to 50 year view of greyhound racing as I hold the view that better long term planning will assist State Governments and other bodies to assist us with our future vision for the industry.

Q: This is the greatest spend on a greyhound racetrack since Geelong’s $8Mil redevelopment in 2010. How has it come about?
HC: I have been working on the new track and public amenity facility at Glenview Park since I began with the Club. I started writing letters and having meetings with appropriate bodies (i.e. Latrobe City Council, Latrobe Valley Racing Club, State Govt, GRV) in February 2010, so it has been a long time coming. Naturally I am excited the project has come to fruition, but more importantly extremely pleased that we have achieved a longer term future for greyhound racing at Glenview Park for at least the next three decades.

Q: Why is this upgrade so important for greyhound racing?
HC: The upgrade is extremely important for greyhound racing because it better accommodates racing and training facilities for the depth of trainers and greyhounds domiciled in the Latrobe Valley region and surrounding areas, but also becomes a pivotal centre to attract additional owners, trainers and greyhounds to the region. Many of the larger greyhound training areas closer to Melbourne are continually being built out making it difficult for greyhound racing enthusiasts to stay on in those areas in the coming years. The new greyhound racing facility at Traralgon will create interest and attraction to the area from Greyhound trainers, particularly with good close-by facilities at Warragul, new facilities being planned at Sale, and less than a two hour drive to Melbourne on an excellent freeway.

Q. Are there plans afoot to make the Traralgon GRC multi-functional venue?
HC: The Club has prepared a 2015 Business Plan, which includes, amongst other things, using the new facility at Traralgon for twice a week greyhound race meetings and functions outside of greyhound racing. The new public amenity facility has the potential for day time conferencing and other night time functions in Traralgon. These opportunities will be explored and promoted by the Club when the new facility is ready for use.

Q. What days of the week will Traralgon be racing when it reopens?
HC: The Club plans to race twice a week, and hopefully GRV will accommodate the request. We are likely to return to our timeslot of Saturday twilight, which gives the Club the opportunity to showcase greyhound racing in the region from a new track and public facility. The second race meeting will require further discussion and consultation with GRV. If we can secure a second race meeting we need to ensure it fits in with the racing commitments of our neighbouring Clubs. Perhaps a Monday or Wednesday (Day, Twilight or Night) are the most likely options.

Q. What can people expect from the new track?
HC: I have described the actual new greyhound track as a “Flemington” Greyhound track. It will be a big beautiful two turn track with plenty of versatility with its use. There will be five race distances (i.e. five sets of boxes), ranging from approximately 315 metres to 660 metres. The Club is confident we will be able to attract all greyhounds despite their racing styles, and it will suit the needs of the industry for many years.

Q. What are the club’s long term plans?
HC: The Club Committee is mindful of the fact that when we open the new facilities at Traralgon a further infrastructure development plan is required for the Club at Glenview Park. We have already put some preliminary plans in place for future infrastructure programs to continually enhance the new facilities beyond 2015. The Club is in a fortunate position that we can use Glenview Park nearly every day of year (i.e 360 days) because of no restrictions, as there are no other users of Glenview Park, except the Latrobe Valley Racing Club which only hosts 3 to 4 horse race meetings a year. However, our new facility has been separated from the Latrobe Valley Racing Club, so the Traralgon Greyhound Racing Club is not reliant on future decisions that may affect the Latrobe Valley Racing Club.

Top: A recent photo of Glenview Park and, Hec Caruana (inset) has plenty to smile about.
Below: The new pavilion is beginning to take shape.