The slashing win by Rose of Galo in Friday’s $40,000 Black Top at Newcastle represented a shrewd effort by trainer Albert Kennewell in selecting this race. But there were other stories, too.
This bitch has a very fine record in Brisbane yet nearly all its wins were just below top class and it had trouble bettering the 30 sec mark there as the last 50m were always a challenge. The same was true of its short visit to Melbourne back in February when the heavy hitters mowed it down.
But Newcastle is a different story, as are tracks like Gosford and Angle Park with their tighter circles. Although there is little difference in the distances, these shapes are easier to handle for dogs like Rose of Galo which rely on leading to win their races. Seldom can they get away with wins at Albion Park, Wentworth Park and Sandown if they have a good dog on their hammer.
Funnily enough there were disappointingly few top dogs in the Black Top, suggesting that people with good beginners are not doing it justice.
The second point is that the Newcastle club’s new chairmen, Brett Lazzarini, has indicated he will be looking closely at possible track improvements, nominating a change to the 400m start as top of the list.
He might go much further than that, starting with the basic design of the circuit and the shape of the existing first and home turns – the former often disruptive and the latter too flat. One of many examples could be seen in Rose of Galo’s race which was quickly confined to four runners after the others all speared off at the first turn, much like a fighter squadron peeling off to start a bombing run (and resulting in one fall). Wentworth Park has similar characteristics.
After querying former operator, the NCA, at the start of racing at The Gardens some years ago, the response from the then-GM was that the design had been “created by experts” so it must be good. That was impossible as those designers has little or no greyhound experience and none could be classed as experts as neither they nor anyone else in this country has done the necessary investigation and analysis of factors that go into creating the ideal track.
Anyway, the belated shifting of the 413m start to the current 400m location illustrated the problem (and cost $50,000 of punter’s money to fix).
Almost identical problems applied to the brand new Gosford track when the GBOTA ignored advice about the 400m bend start, only to have to shift it some six months later. Its first turn is also disruptive.
My suggestion is that whenever the industry gets around to creating a genuine expert panel to delve into the track design subject it should employ a road traffic engineer. I have yet to see a freeway where you have to make a sharp turn to get around the corner. Rather, the cambers virtually allow you to use only a light touch on the wheel to stay on course. The road drives you, not the other way round.
Finally, some interesting facts about patronage turned up following the use of the evening time slot for the Black Top meeting. It had swapped with Wentworth Park, which then occupied the twilight slot.
In practice, takings were a little less than normally true at Wenty, averaging $17,500 on the Win tote. But the Black Top race itself barely boosted turnover as minor races 3 and 5 pulled in higher figures. At Wentworth Park the first five races averaged only $14,300 but the last five – from 5pm onwards – averaged $20,700, a 45% jump. All of which suggests betting is dominated by mug gamblers having a beer after knocking off work. That’s yet another sign of the times.
MORE CURIOUS COMMENTS FROM STEWARDS
The Meadows 30 August – box numbers added here.
“Raven Pearl (4), Frank Furter (5) and Woodnear (6) collided soon after the start”.
No, wrong. Woodnear (6) was never near the other two and never touched another dog on the way to the turn.
“Victa Bale (2) crossed to the rail soon after the start checking Dyna Fulcrum (1). Dyna Yenite (3) and Mepunga Ranger (4) collided soon after the start”.
The first bit never happened. Dyna Fulcrum (1) is just a moderate beginner – always has been. The second sentence is a gross exaggeration. If those two dogs touched it was an inconsequential brush as they came out of the boxes. Completely irrelevant and a misuse of the words “cross” and “collide”.
“Hetalia Bale (5) crossed to the rail approaching the first turn checking Bremer (4), Jaunty Bale (2) and Lonesome Pirate (1).
This is nonsense. Hetalia Bale had clear air all the way to the turn, heading straight ahead in front of Dyna Fancy (3). It checked nothing. Any “checking” of the other three inside dogs was minimal and was all their own work, although Jaunty Bale did run off after they passed the judge.
These wild claims (and many others) by stewards would put Hans Christian Andersen to shame. The mystery is where they source them. What are they watching? Did they forget their glasses? One thought is they may emerge from viewing head-on shots, in which case they would get a misleading impression of which did what. A head-on is useful only to amplify the main picture, if necessary, and can never display the relative proportions of the race.
The above three examples come from the four 525m graded races. The other eight races on the program were maidens and mad scrambles at the start of 600m races. Life is too short to bother with those.
NOT SKY HIGH
The wonderfully performed Space Star, with two track records and a great 41.84 debut at Wentworth Park, bombed the start at its second Wenty run on Saturday, then ran into the backside of another dog on the first turn and managed only to finish in 3rd place in very ordinary time (42.81 x 2.5 lengths).
Actually, its run had finished by the time they entered the home straight. Notwithstanding the checks, I can’t help thinking that backing up 8 days after a “gut buster” at its first distance run was not a sensible idea.