​Greyhound carnival launched

AUSTRALIA’S biggest greyhound racing regional series will return for a second year to Gippsland.

The Gippsland Carnival was launched at the Traralgon Greyhound Racing Club on Thursday night to mark the return of the series, which connects four country cups in Sale, Traralgon, Warragul and Cranbourne.

Victorian greyhound racing ambassador and AFL games record holder Brent Harvey was at the launch and will attend the subsequent cups, as will Western Bulldogs premiership player and Gippslander Josh Dunkley and his sister, Melbourne Vixens netballer Lara Dunkley.

The $75,000 Sale Cup will kick off the series on Boxing Day, followed by the $47,000 Traralgon Cup on January 13, the $47,000 Warragul Cup on January 27 and the $47,000 Cranbourne Cup on February 10.

Points are allocated for first, second and third place getters throughout the series and a Gippsland champion will be crowned at the end of the carnival.

The series was held for the first time last summer and has been fine-tuned for 2017, to span eight weeks. The stayer and sprinter competitions have been combined into one overall championship series and more points will be on offer in the heats.

A $20,000 bonus will be shared among the top three greyhounds of the series.

Greyhound Racing Victoria chairman Bernie Carolan said the state government had been a strong backer of Victorian greyhound racing, particularly in Gippsland.

“In the last six months alone GRV and the government have committed almost $450,000 to racing and community initiatives in Gippsland and Cranbourne through the Victorian Racing Industry Fund, and the Gippsland Carnival is a major mart of that investment,” he said.

Carolan said the amendments to the 2017 series would create an even more intense competition and a better racing spectacle for the crowds.

“This is a terrific concept that connects four clubs for one exciting series,” he said.

“Last year’s carnival generated a lot of interest. The series showcases the Gippsland region and greyhound racing.”

Carolan said Gippsland was greyhound racing heartland, adding the industry had a significant presence in the region.

“Outside of Melbourne, Gippsland is the biggest centre of greyhound racing in Victoria, contributing around $30 million to the local economy and sustaining thousands of jobs. There is no better place for a series like this,” he said.

“GRV, the clubs and the Victorian government are  demonstrating their commitment to Gippsland and greyhound racing by investing in events like this.”