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Greyhound racing in the Hastings was dead and buried a little over 12 months ago when BBet Park at Wauchope had to be downgraded to a training-only facility.
Twelve months on, trialling returned there on November 3 after Greyhound Racing NSW had injected more than $1million to upgrade the complex.
The club will hope the trial day is the first step towards eventually regaining its status as a non-TAB (race) track which it last held in 2020.
Completion of work at Wauchope continues GRNSW's substantial investment in the sport on the Mid-North Coast with a focus on creating safer racing conditions.
The Wauchope upgrade follows an announcement earlier this year that a new state of the art Super Track complex will be built at Taree with Taree, Wauchope and Kempsey then set to form a new club to race at the venue.
Investment in Wauchope included the installation of a new lure rail and modifications to the existing safety rail.
This work complements the full refurbishment of the track, the kennels, the venue's electricals and the addition of a safety rail and safety mats.
Safety concerns were the main contributor as to why the track was closed 14 months ago, but GRNSW chief executive officer Rob Macauley said the popular track was now back.
"These dogs that are running around here today are not only somebody's loved animal, they're also very valuable and people want them to be safe," he said.
"It is only by having safe facilities that you can go home with a dog that's not limping and that's what we want to achieve... it's that simple.
"It's a wide, open grass track that everybody likes to run on with a different style of dog. People come from far and wide to come here which is interesting; there's people here from Ipswich and Grafton."
Mr Macauley said some of the upgrades will ensure the longevity of the track while he also indicated there would be further work done as well.
"We'll spend a little bit more with some other safety and facility improvements in the next six months and we will then return to a racing calendar which is good," he said.
"It's been a year-long hiatus and it's very good to be back."
While the plan remains for the Super Track at Taree to be operational by the end of 2023, Mr Macauley was adamant the million dollar injection for Wauchope wasn't a token gesture.
When the Taree facility is fully operational, tracks in Kempsey and Wauchope will remain trial-only alternatives.
But he said trial tracks still had to be safe.
"Our number one goal is animal welfare and people have to be able to trial their dogs safely and take home a dog that's sound," he said.
"That is why there is really no difference between the safety standard we would want from a trial track as opposed to a racetrack.
"We don't want facilities that are second-rate and that's why we're prepared to invest the money because you've got to."
Hastings River Greyhound Club president Rex Nairn, however, hadn't given up hope of the Wauchope track regaining its full race track status.
"We were dead. If we had have given up (totally) we were gone, but we stuck at it," he said.
"Maybe we might come back and they might go back to the idea of having two tracks on the Mid North Coast."
The upgrades to the track will allow the club to hold the 51st running of the Butch Monkley Maiden on January 9 after it had to be transferred to Grafton this year.
"This year will be the 50th year of the running of the Butch Monkley Maiden final at Wauchope and although it's not the 50th year it's been run unfortunately, it will be the 50th year here."
State Member for Oxley, the Hon. Melinda Pavey said she had long been a supporter of Nairn and the Wauchope club.
"I have long been a supporter of the work that Rex and his club do here at Wauchope, and I thank GRNSW for its continued support and investment in the sport on the Mid North Coast," Ms Pavey said.
"When completed, the Super Track at Taree will be a wonderful addition to the region and as a result we will continue to see major benefits for the community and local economy.
"In the meantime it's very pleasing to see upgrades to the Wauchope track to make it a safer track for our greyhounds."
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