IN A pretty ordinary night for punters, Warrnambool’s big night of the year crashed alarmingly as outsiders won both the big events.
The well performed Ronray Spirit picked up the Cup in a modest 25.30. It started at $5.90 but was only 4th favourite, mainly because the race included five other runners which had been running better time. Ronray Spirit’s secret was to jump as it normally does (in 6.61) while the others either ran into each other or just jumped poorly.
Nunya Tron ran around battling leaders to take out the Classic. Near-unbackable favourite Shared Equity ($1.20) missed the kick and was never a winning chance from the rails box. The winner paid over $50 on both totes and has now won five from ten starts at four different tracks, this time in a moderate 25.63.
Ronray Spirit ran a BON for the distance but the only really smart time at the meeting came in a 390-metre race won by Hail Storming in 22.19, paying $1.30.
The big question was what happened to all the speed displayed over the last couple of weeks? Several dogs had been running just over or under the 25 seconds mark. And Ronray Spirit has run faster elsewhere – 25.10 at Ballarat and 25.13 at Shepparton. Likewise, Boxhead won an earlier Special Event in a moderate 25.58 yet it has a CV which includes 25.12 at Ballarat and a previous win at Warrnambool in 25.19.
The track may well have been on the slow side as both of the above two dogs led all the way. That’s pretty unusual for a finals night when clubs normally like to see records threatened.
That aside, the most notable feature of the night was the almost constant shuffling that took place in the first half of these races. Many good dogs were inconvenienced by all the to and fro. Such is racing, you might say, particularly when you have a highly competitive field.
However, given that Warrambool is probably one of the better one-turn tracks in the country, we have to ask if there is not a better way of laying out tracks in order to reduce this interference.
Warrnambool is not the best track, of course. That honour is easily taken by the Hobart 461-metre trip where runners almost invariably run straight ahead after the jump and interference is minimal. But why is that, and why cannot the prescription be applied to other tracks?
Outside Hobart, the two prime areas of concern are the first 50-metres after the jump and what goes on as they approach the first turn. A good solution cannot be found by plucking something out of the air. Indeed, The Meadows has tried that as it changed its sprint start around three times over the years with no apparent improvement. Clearly, some serious studies are called for.
Meantime, it must be worthwhile for one or other racing authority to experiment with different boxes and different positioning of those boxes. A wider structure – ie with wider spaces between all or some boxes – would be worth a try. That would cost more, of course, but the need is great and the potential benefits large.
It is also noteworthy that boxes which are placed a long way from the rail usually produce a cleaner run to the turn – Ipswich, Gosford and Bathurst are examples. Mind you, what happens when they get there is another subject altogether.
However, these are all words, not deeds. The industry is well overdue to conduct some scientifically based studies in order to produce better guidelines. Millions of dollars are spent every year building tracks with faults that could well be avoided.
Highlight of the week
There can be no stopping Fernando Bale, proposed here the other day as a sure thing for 2015 GOTY. Its demolition of a smart field at Sandown in 28.98 went within a whisker of taking Bekim Bale’s record of 28.96. Its 4.90 sectional was just as brilliant and its continued improvement under the Dailly’s care is remarkable.
Whatever else people might say about the Wheeler production line (and there are plenty of views) its long term breeding successes must be without parallel in the industry – anywhere.
Warragul’s meeting on Thursday night amounted to a triumph of the bureaucracy. There were no maidens and no normal Grade 5 or above races.
It contained six Non Penalty Grade 5s, four Grade 7s and two Grade 6s. Oh, for the good old days! This must make lots of work for grading staff and IT programmers. But do we really need them?
Queensland greyhound racing apparently has a future
Colleague Duncan Stearn’s mention of obsolete information on the Racing Queensland website was bad enough, but I have to add another that is even more odd.
Here is how the Ipswich club site heads up its future information:
13 July 2020”
It was no mistake either. If you dig further into the detail, you could find out that the first race will jump in 1893 days. Book your table now!
Tasracing has just issued a media release hailing a new track record for the 599-metre trip at Hobart, set by Lakerville. Unfortunately, its media person forgot to tell us the time. Searching elsewhere reveals it was 34.06.
You will remember that Tassie has long been telling lies to Ozchase about its sectional times – one per race. All are assigned to the winner of each race, regardless of what dog was actually responsible. Career records are therefore corrupted. The handful of people who use the messy Ozchase form information are hereby warned (again).
Incidentally, Lakerville is barely two years old. Its sire is Makeshift, an Irish dog but one with a heavy dash of Brett Lee in its background.