The Jolly Green Giant Stumbles Again

The shocking revelation on this website of Tabcorp’s practice of changing bets after the jump is bad enough.

But Tabcorp is also under the gun from Racing NSW about the practice of manipulating incoming Fixed Odds bets to suit its own purposes. Previously, we have quoted here excerpts from Tabcorp’s manual telling operators how to service these bets – apparently to make sure it never loses.

Here is another one.

For years Tabcorp has been playing around with its price screens to give undeserved and confusing priority to harness races. When a trot race is scheduled just after a dog race, Tabcorp instructs its computer to list the trots first in the “next up” list. For example, the other night a trot race from country WA was set to run two minutes after a good quality greyhound race from Sandown but Tabcorp reversed the order, thereby putting it out of sync with SKY pictures. This can be possible only by deliberately pre-programming its computer in that way.

So field of five scrubbers in the bush outranked a top class race in the city. The outcome is that the harness code pulls in marginal income from mug gamblers who don’t much care what they are betting on. By the time the trot race comes up, the greyhound race has been run and won – no more bets, please!

A nominal reason for this might be that individual harness races have bigger pools than greyhound races. True, but there are a lot more greyhound races in total, which is why the code is increasing turnover and the harness code is falling away, helped by lots of integrity problems.

But what right does Tabcorp have to decide that priority? It is supposed to be a “partner” of greyhound racing, so we are continually told. Some partner!

This anomaly is costing greyhound hard cash and we have brought it to the attention of racing authorities in Sydney and Melbourne on several occasions. Apparently, they have been unsuccessful in their efforts to right the ship.

Monopolies corrupt, absolute monopolies corrupt absolutely.

The remaining question for greyhound authorities is – why is this so? Greyhound promotion is obviously insufficient to cope with the competition, hence those smaller pools. It won’t just happen, it has to be made to happen.

STAYER’S CORNER

Some promise was evident last week in the staying caper.

The second thing that happened was on Thursday at Sandown Park when Zipping Rory overcame a tardy start to round up a moderate field over the 715m trip. He went on to win by over six lengths in a smart 41.82. Miata’s record is 41.17 but few dogs manage to get under 42 seconds these days.

Importantly, he raced like a stayer after placing at his previous two stars over the distance. He’s only 28 months old so may continue to improve, especially from an inside box.

A clue? Zipping Rory is by Mantra Lad, a top quality all-distance racer, unlike most of the other sires in the better distance races. Take a couple of steps back again and there sits Token Prince, perhaps an ever better dog over all distances than Mantra Lad. There’s a lot of substance there.

(A note: can we please get away from the Zipping name? So far as I can see, this time the dog had nothing whatever to do with the breed that started off that line. The problem now is that it’s hard to remember which is which anymore because there are Zipping’s everywhere. I know picking names can be a hassle but it’s worth the trouble to make life easier for everybody).

The first thing of note was the day before when Ballarat put on a 660m race which attracted several of the usual city types that have been running (very frequently but not well) over the long trip. But this time they were relegated in favour of a newcomer. Dyna Perseus was having its first try beyond 600m and comfortably took care of them, coming from 3rd spot down the back and winning in a solid 38.26. That’s better than the average time at the track although the record is 37.60, held by Gold Affair Two, which was also in Wednesday’s field but dropped off after leading.

Dyna Perseus is one of the progeny of Lonesome Cry, a well credentialled American sire brought here by Paul Wheeler as one of his efforts to increase the strength of his breed. It seems to have worked. Dyna Perseus has had a good career so far over mixed distances but has done nothing spectacular. However, the way it finished off the 660m suggests it will be well worth watching.

Elsewhere, nothing much happened in Sydney but in Brisbane Late Angel Lee’s connections took the opportunity to bring it back to the 520m trip in a Winter Carnival Cup heat. Alas, although it has had plenty of success over that trip, it walked out in last place (at 5/1 from box 1) and barely improved after that. Obviously running the dog eight times in eight weeks over 710m was hardly a good preparation for a sprint, especially when it was just flopping over the line in those staying trips.

For most of these failed dogs, I can only repeat my earlier suggestion: give’em a month or so off in the paddock chasing birds or whatever. They are not doing any good where they are.

DON’T MAKE IT HARD

GRNSW Newsletter 27 June: “GRNSW has committed to introducing a new Masters racing category for greyhounds aged 3 ½ years and over from 1 July 2014, with races to be scheduled at all TAB tracks via a coordinated race program. GRNSW is now seeking input from participants on the draft Masters Grading Guidelines”.

That’s good stuff, although this column has been calling for the move for at least the last 10 years, only for the advice to be ignored. In fact, I suggested it should be compulsory for each club to run one each month. Victoria has been running these races for yonks with consistent success. It’s an excellent way of extending the useful life of dogs which are still keen and eager. Owners would be encouraged, too.

At the provincials these experienced dogs often run the best of the night, or nearly so. Some are a bit short on early pace but most are well able to repeat their overall times. They know their way around and are better able to avoid trouble, which can make them good betting propositions.

The only odd thing is that GRNSW plumped for a new rule – a 3.5 years age limit, rather than 4 years. Time will tell how that works out.

But why would GRNSW complicate things by scheduling three “Masters” grades? Even in Victoria there is no indication that grading is a barrier, or that a lot more races are needed. In fact, grading restrictions may well make it harder to obtain full fields, which would defeat the purpose of the exercise. The time to look at that would be after six months experience. We shall see.