Another Wakeup Call

Last week, being wary of the problems stayers have when backing up quickly, I suggested to anyone interested in the Topcat Video final at The Meadows that “On top of that, they are all going to go round again in another seven days in the final. I suggest using the dartboard approach for that”.

Well, the dartboard worked for those hitting the number 8. At $17.90 in NSW and $15.00 in Victoria, Shot To Bits swamped them on the line, but in a fairly average 42.76. Sweet It Is justified its favouritism (but not its short price) by taking out second place over the better credentialled Xylia Allen and Zipping Maggie, both of which had had enough by half way down the home straight.

For interest, here is a list of the main runners’ times at The Meadows and their average times over their previous five runs (converted from other tracks where appropriate)

GREYHOUND Meadows Av. Last Five Diff.
Shot To Bits 42.76 42.95 -0.19
Sweet It Is 42.81 42.59 0.22
Xylia Allen 42.86 42.7 0.16
Zipping Maggie 43.08 42.83 0.25
Dyna Willow 43.48 43.17 0.31

All had raced at seven day intervals for the previous three or four weeks, although Shot To Bits had only two runs over the 700s, with the earlier two being over the middle distance at Bendigo.

So only one of the five dogs was able to better its average time, never mind its best recent time. Whether from time analysis or from race observation, what conclusion can be drawn other than that these dogs have had too much racing? We are being offered second or third best. But it is not the fault of the dogs but of race programmers and the trainers that accept their demands.

Of course, the trainers don’t own the dogs (a partial exception for Darren McDonald) so maybe that is a small excuse. Nevertheless, the experience does no good for the industry or for the punters who did not use the dartboard.

Incidentally, 1st and 2nd started at a shorter price in Victoria, while 3rd and 4th were shorter in NSW. These sorts of variations keep reminding us how great it would be to have a national betting pool. I noticed even much greater differences at the gallops recently between First Four dividends in the Tabcorp states, as compared with Tattsbet, sometimes of the order of 40%.

A WORLDWIDE CHALLENGE?

To anyone concerned about local administrations, and they are numerous according to various blogs, it’s intriguing to note what overseas participants think about their local greyhound racing. Below is typical of many comments (their grammar etc, not mine) from Irish owners and trainers. Ireland has a single board controlling all racing.

“Once the current board are gone it will be a good starting point, we then need proper selected intelligent individual’s with a proven track record of business and PR qualifications , good past history record that will benefit our industry and take us forward, pay them a fair salary and when goals are achieved and figures met pay then a bonus, if we can hire the proper personnel to over see the running of this industry you will be amazed how quick they can turn this sour grapes into an apple pie, but we must start by restoring integrity and until this is seen far and wide we are at nothing”.

The key issues do not so much revolve around running racetracks, but primarily concern industry management and governance matters which are the responsibility of the over-riding authority. The concept of appointed boards (ie committees) running racing with few if any checks and balances is showing up as a relic of the ages – well, of between one and two hundred years, anyway, depending on the code.

You could put the world’s top businessmen, Mandrake, Superman and the archangel Gabriel on these committees and the result would be the same. It’s the lowest common denominator effect. The buck does not stop anywhere. It’s not the people that are the problem, it’s the system.

The fix? Only state Racing Ministers can bring about the necessary reforms.

Fortunately, other major sports have long since seen the light and, in any event, their leaders do not report to governments. Almost without exception, they have set up national organisations in which a CEO is responsible to the board for running the whole show. Boards are there to hire and fire the CEO and to oversee only major strategic matters and approve major expenditure. Board appointments are decided by merit alone and not, for example, by state of origin. Outcomes are routinely checked by everyone from fans to media organisations and their successes and failures are there for all to see. Not so in racing.

As an aside, you might note that the NSW board is comprised of people who have all had some previous experience in the industry, but who are claimed to be independent because they are not serving officials. With the best will in the world, is that possible? It brings to mind a proposal from former Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett, that current administrations (at the gallops) should be scrapped and replaced with people who do not have any experience at all in the industry. Now that would really be independent.

Of course, Queensland boards not only have serving participants but the Minister has made it compulsory. Could that be why the state is running last on any measure you might think of?

HAVE YOU HEARD THIS ONE BEFORE?

Steward’s Report, The Meadows Saturday 26, Race 5.

“Smoking Rosie and Left Is Right were slow to begin. Left Is Right (5) crossed to the rail soon after the start, checking Quicker Than Al (3) as a result”.

Yet another silly error. Left Is Right did walk out and cross to the rail but that had no effect on Quicker Than Al, which was in front of it from the jump. However, Left Is Right, a darkish coloured dog with a yellow rug, then charged through at the first turn like a platoon of Hawks headed for the Swan’s goal, scattering the opposition every which way. That caused much of the interference with the rest being due to the tight nature of the turn itself.

Would you let any of these guys take the kick for goal if the match depended on it?