Fewer Rules Would Be Better

There was a time when a couple of Rules of Racing were easy to follow. If a dog fights or does not chase, suspend it for 28 days, three months or permanently for 1st, 2nd and 3rd offences respectively. Separately, if a dog is injured in a race stewards could order a stand down period of a few days or more, depending on vet advice.

The only puzzle in that lot was the logic behind restricting the 1st offence penalty to the track where the offence took place. This implies that the track itself caused part of the problem, yet never have we ever seen an argument to support that view. Why should a fighter be allowed to race at another track, irrespective of whether it has trialled somewhere in the meantime? Surely the problem is in the dog’s head, in which case the trainer would be silly not to attend to it properly, as a longer outage is potentially in the offing.

That aside, life has become more complicated, again for uncertain reasons.

Formerly, an injured dog was not penalised as such, only prevented from racing within a certain (usually short) period. Today, it is suspended pending a steward’s trial, in line with an adjusted racing rule. What is the point of that administrative change? It looks like a sledgehammer to crack a nut. All it does is to add to everyone’s clerical workload and force the trainer and other parties to go to extra trouble to organise the trial – i.e. more expense.

The underlying point is surely that any canine athlete will sooner or later be subject to injury, whether
minor or not. A few of these may be detected by authorities, but thousands will not. Post-race checking of his dog and tending to aches and pains is the everyday lot of the trainer. Indeed, many will join the queue at the door of the local “muscleman” as a matter of routine, especially for a valuable dog.

Advice from stewards (and the vet) about race injuries is helpful to explain some performances but that’s about it. Why not stop there? To go further looks like make-work efforts to justify their existence.

In any case, what else is an injured dog going to do other than to pull up, either immediately or gradually?

While all this is going on authorities have yet to come to grips with a Rule that is not there but should be. Relegation and disqualification from the race are not options in greyhound racing (barring drug matters), in sharp contrast to thoroughbred or harness racing where they are an almost everyday occurrence. Consequently, the fighter which destroys the chances of a competitor still gets to take home the spoils, while the victim gets only place money or nothing at all. It makes no sense.

One excuse I have heard (semi-officially) is that the stewards are too busy after a race to look deeply into such relegations. This is nonsense. They already have time to suspend dogs for fighting or failing to chase, or to record 20 or 30 alleged “bumps” during the race. By comparison, serving up justice to all is far more important.

You have to wonder if a serious incident in a $300,000 race will stir authorities to action.

For information, here is an excerpt from the Rule in question.

“R69B Failing to pursue by reason of injury – first time only
(1) Where, in the opinion of the Stewards, a greyhound fails to pursue the lure with due commitment for
the first time only then it shall be examined by the officiating veterinary surgeon or authorised person
at the meeting and
(a) if found to be injured, it shall be suspended until the completion of a satisfactory trial, and the
specifics shall be recorded in the relevant Controlling Body Register, or where applicable, the
Certificate of Registration or Weight Card of the greyhound”.

MATHEMATICALLY IMPOSSIBLE?

It is surprising how often you see this. In Race 7 at Sandown this week the NSW tote paid $56.90 for the Quinella and also $56.90 for the Exacta. The pools were $2,109 and $619 respectively.

The odds against this coincidence must be a squillion to one. In the much larger Victorian pools the dividends were $48.90 and $97.50, which is much more logical.

Whether the sums were correct or not it is yet another argument in favour of combining these pools.

TOUGH AND TOUGHER

On the question of gutbusters – on August 21 Dewana Babe did a good job to lead all the way over 715m at Sandown, recording 6.06 and 42.02. Seven days later it also led nearly all the way (untouched), recording 6.17 and 42.28 – a four lengths difference – but faded into 3rd place behind a 42.19 winner.

Lady Toy won the more recent event and improved her time considerably. Of course, she takes her time at the back of the field in the first half of the race, going hard only when the rest are fading. The contrast with a tearaway leader busting its gut is marked.

The lesson is that if you have an LAW dog in a distance race, do not back it if it is starting seven days later.

EACH WAY BET?

Stewards Report, Sandown Race 8.

“My Bro Fabio and Mepunga Armagh were slow to begin. Buckle Up Mason crossed to the outside soon after the start, checking Skinny Vinnie, Humphrey Bale and My Bro Fabio”.

If My Bro Fabio (5) was slow out (which it was), how could Buckle up Mason (7) have checked it (which it didn’t)? Besides, Buckle Up Mason (7) never crossed to the outside as it was already there, but it did edge Skinny Vinnie (6) towards the rail, which is where that dog wanted to race anyway. And it did not “check” Humphrey Bale either – they brushed but they were both responsible for that.

Stewards score: 1/5 (they picked the slow beginners).