Anti-code protest to impact puppy classic

Dismayed trainers have likened a postponed Dapto Puppy Classic final to "telling Bart Cummings the Melbourne Cup is called off or postponed a week", and have been left scrambling to potentially alter conditioning plans for the region's richest greyhound race.

The threat of the $75,000-to-the-winner event being postponed intensified yesterday as pockets of the sport's participants stood firm on not entering their dogs for race meetings across the state.

They are protesting against the lack of reform on the Inter Code agreement, which has hampered the sport's earning capacity from TAB distributions.

Just 13 per cent of NSW TAB-generated funding is returned to greyhound racing, despite it now being responsible for 21 per cent of turnover.

The agreement is due to lapse in 2096.

Greyhound Racing NSW was forced to abandon the Richmond meeting on Saturday and staging compressed programs at Wentworth Park (nine races) and The Gardens (eight) on the same day.

It means the likelihood of the Dapto Puppy Classic final program going ahead next Thursday night as scheduled has decreased with the planned boycott to run for two weeks.

Four semi-finals of the Puppy Classic, open only to graduates of the Dapto Greyhound Racing Club's 2001 auction, will still go ahead tonight.

Peter Lagogiane, who prepares two semi-finalists including fastest heat winner Kitty Kahn, described the prospect of a postponed final as an "absolute letdown" if he were to qualify.

"I've learnt to train my dogs for races to peak on the final week," he said.

"I made a point you can't tell Bart Cummings the Melbourne Cup is called off or postponed a week later because he fine-tunes his horses for the first Tuesday in November.

"When the pups were put through the auction, that is when we eyed this race off.

"This is their race and this is their Melbourne Cup."

He said he agreed with the theory adopted by the sport's participants against the Inter Code agreement, but not their protest method.

Fellow trainer Anthony Azzopardi prepares recent Dapto maiden winner Dark Assassin, tipped to make it back-to-back berths in Dapto feature finals.

Quizzed on how he would tailor Dark Assassin's preparation if the final was delayed by a fortnight, Azzopardi said: "That's going to be something I'm going to have to sit down and plan properly. But it does wreck the preparation for your dog and it does interfere quite a bit with your training. It's a sticky situation, isn't it?

"We've put a lot in the TAB pool over the last few years and the game's kicking on like no other, but we can't go any further. We do this for a living, but I'm thinking of relocating to Melbourne because the money is there.

"I love Sydney, I was born and raised here and I don't want to leave Sydney," he said.


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