Since the temporary suspension of racing began, GBGB’s Stipendiary Stewards have been playing an active role in supporting their trainers to provide all the necessary care and attention to their greyhounds whilst they are not visiting the track.

Here, three Stipendiary Stewards from across the country discuss how their role has adapted since the suspension of racing and how the greyhound community is pulling together to ensure we are all ready to return to racing as it is safe to do so.

Alex McTaggart, Stipendiary Steward for Scotland and the North of England, said:

“Although these are obviously very testing times, what has been brilliant to see is the community spirit between trainers and owners during this time. There’s a real sense that all of us within the  greyhound community needs to come together and support one another through this so that we can all stay safe and return to racing as soon as we can.

 “Everyone seems to be looking out for one another more than usual, which is really heartening, for example, one of my trainers was short of bedding because of delays with their supplier – information which came to me via one of my other trainers – so I managed to get a contact to quickly deliver a supply to him. He is going to be doing this on a regular basis over this period, as he does with a number of my other trainers across the North East, so that he is not in the same situation again.

“Speaking to my trainers, they have appreciated the welfare payments being given by GBGB and the tracks – no, they’re not going to cover all of their costs, but they will help significantly during this uncertain time. I have fourteen trainers in my area who declined the funds so their share could help those who need it more. This week one of my trainers asked if he could donate their payment to their local Greyhound Trust branch and talking to the other Stipes there are a few doing the same.

“In the current climate we all need to take one day at a time and continue to help one another and speak up if we are struggling. As Stipes, we are here to protect our people as well as their greyhounds.”

Hayley Huntley, GBGB Stipendiary Steward for the South East, said:

“I’ve been in regular contact with all my trainers and they’ve been updating me daily with photos and videos of their dogs. They are all doing their very best to stick to their kennel routines, minus racing, and they are all going above and beyond to keep their dogs happy and active, both physically and mentally. It’s been lovely to see so many videos of the dogs enjoying the sunshine, playing with footballs and toys, but, of course, what we all hope is that they can get back at the track doing what they love most soon.

“As well as updates on the greyhounds themselves, my trainers have been keeping me in the loop regarding their supplies of food, bedding and cleaning supplies during this time so I can be aware of the position they are each in. I am contactable by phone, text and email to anyone that needs to speak to me.

“As well as the contributions from GBGB and the tracks, I know that they are also hugely thankful for the continued support and loyalty of their owners during this time. My trainers are doing their very best to keep in contact with their owners and give them regular updates on their dogs while they are unable to physically visit them at the kennels. Their dogs are their priority and it has been heartening to see trainers and owners alike all doing what they can until our dogs can get racing again.”

Pete Rosney, Stipendiary Steward for the North West, and South and West Yorkshire, said:

“I speak for all the Stipes when I say that we’re anxious to do all we can to help our trainers through this. An important part of our role over the past weeks has been making sure that my trainers are aware of the financial support that is available to help them; not only from GBGB and the tracks, but the government packages on offer. I have had several cases where my trainers didn’t realise what they were entitled to.

“One example I had this week was one of my trainers, who has been put in a particularly difficult situation financially, applied for the  Small Business Grant Scheme on my advice and has since been awarded £10,000 from his local authority. This is a significant amount of money for him and will mean that he is able to keep going, keep providing for his dogs and be in a position to race again whenever we get the green light to start again safely. Not everyone will be eligible but it’s important to check the help that is available.

“In many ways it has been a blessing that we’ve had this period of good weather and I know the dogs have been enjoying it. A number of my trainers have been getting on with the jobs that they would otherwise not be able to get around to with a busy racing schedule; painting, repairs and the like, and I’ve been sent some fantastic photos of kennel improvements that are underway. As well as keeping their dogs fit and healthy so they are ready to get back racing, my message to trainers is that we are here to help; keep talking to one another and keep talking to us.”