An eleventh-hour bid to save a greyhound race meeting at the popular Dapto Dogs racetrack has succeeded some 24 hours after the authority operating the course announced it would no longer host the event.
Greyhound Racing NSW commenced legal proceedings against the Dapto Agricultural and Horticultural Society in the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday after the society decided earlier in the week that race meetings would cease immediately.
The court heard DAHS had made the decision to stop the races on Monday but only communicated this to GRNSW on Thursday - a day after it informed the media.
GRNSW said it was "dumbfounded" by the decision, calling it unlawful and quickly moving to appoint an administrator to continue to run the greyhound racing club through the governing body's powers under the Greyhound Racing Act.
However, during an urgent hearing ahead of Thursday night's scheduled meet, GRNSW's barrister, Scott Robertson, said that when administrator Grant Carroll tried to access the track so the races could go ahead he had not been allowed in.
Mr Robertson alleged a security guard at the Dapto Dogs track had told Mr Carroll he wasn't allowed to let anyone in under instructions from chief executive Katrina Novak.
"I'm told right now there are people outside the locked Dapto gates, obviously humans and canines," Mr Robertson told the court, explaining that until the administrator was allowed in Thursday's race meet could not go ahead.
Justice Michael Pembroke then ordered Mr Carroll be allowed access to the track so the race meet could go ahead.
"They're not only iconic, they might be the most famous dog meeting in the country," the judge said of the races in Wollongong south of Sydney.
Justice Pembroke also made an order preventing the DAHS from engaging in any conduct to prevent greyhound race meetings at the Dapto Dogs racecourse until the matter returns to court.
GRNSW chief executive Tony Mestrov said it was unfortunate it took a court order to obtain access to the Dapto venue.
"We promised to fight for the participants and we have won the right to conduct a meeting at Dapto tonight," he said in a statement.
The decision to cease greyhound racing at the venue came after the DAHS said negotiations with GRNSW over a funding agreement had broken down.
Society chairman Noel Leslie on Wednesday said the site would be used for community projects in the future.
However, Mr Mestrov slammed the explanation as a "convenient excuse and smokescreen" and said negotiations had been ongoing when the society announced the races would stop.
The matter will return to the Supreme Court on Monday.