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Blog - GBGB Senior Stipendiary Steward Paul Illingworth

A Stipendiary Stewards Work

In trying to explain what it is that I do, it is probably best to explain what the Stipendiary stewards do first.

The GBGB employs six Stipendiary Stewards, soon to be seven, who are allocated an area to regulate and each strive to provide a high level of security, integrity and discipline within the greyhound industry for the benefit of all GBGB licence holders and the public.

The role of the Stipendiary Steward is not just that of policing, they are available 7-days a week to give advice, support, practical help and offer arbitration at all levels of the sport. A sound knowledge of the Rules of Racing, good communication skills and a fully charged mobile phone are essential.

There is a wide range of experience and expertise among the Stipendiary Stewards, ranging from racing management, former trainers and experts in animal welfare. Each can contribute experience and their own brand of expertise from his or her own field to a job that is more diverse than is generally acknowledged. Their function within the industry is flexible and can be determined by the demands the sport makes upon them.

The Stipendiary Stewards are not just a voice on the end of a phone or a name on the top of a letterhead, their car is their office and they are constantly on the move to resolve problems or disputes that emerge within the sport daily.

It is virtually impossible to portray a typical day in the life of a Stipendiary Steward, but it generally begins with checking the mail for urgent matters that need addressing, and scrutinising race cards and race results sheets. Sometimes they are halfway across the country before the postman calls; on their way to addressing problems, attending BAGS meetings, trial meetings or kennel inspections.

They travel around 30,000 miles per year and all trainers can expect a visit at least once a year. The welfare of the racing greyhound is paramount and high standards must be achieved and maintained.

The primary purpose of a kennel inspection is to determine the well-being of the greyhounds. From their experience, they have found that a good indication of the general health and well-being of the occupants of any kennel is gained by giving regard to the condition of any retired animals. The thought being that if the trainer devotes attention to their retired greyhounds then it's a safe bet that adequate attention will be given to their current crop of graders and open racers.

Clean kennels, tight security, good book keeping and healthy animals are a recipe for a successful trainer.

The reason for the Stipendiary Stewards' random attendance at race meetings is to ensure the continued well-being of the greyhounds; to safeguard the interest of the public by ensuring that all employees at the racecourse are licensed and the Rules of Racing are being observed.

Security at racecourses is of paramount importance in sustaining the good reputation of GBGB racing. Most race meetings are satisfactorily conducted and they see their presence there more as an observer than continually interfering, but if during the meeting they consider some points worthy of comment then, of course, they make the management aware of their observations.

Since 1996 the Stipendiary Stewards have worked in partnership with the 'Flying Squad' to take random urine samples.

The obtaining of samples for analysis from greyhounds plays an important part in maintaining the integrity of GBGB greyhound racing, with random sampling providing the principle thrust of this strategy. Stipendiary Stewards also work in conjunction with the registration department in vetting and preparing licence applications for consideration by the Director of Regulation.

Stipendiary Stewards also investigate complaints of alleged breaches of the Rules of Racing by persons subject to those rules. The results of investigations are either dealt with at local level by the Stipendiary Steward themselves or examined by the Director of Regulation, who has a range of options open to him in deciding how to resolve any disputes.

Now that you have an idea of what the Stipendiary Stewards get up to, I’ll explain a bit more about what I do in my role as Senior Stipendiary Steward in the next blog.