Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Given the topicality of the matter, I thought we should expand a bit on the form of Sweet It Is and Xylia Allen. Both are running tonight at Wentworth Park in the Chairman’s Cup series.

First, my apologies. I missed an earlier comment from a reader in response to my call for explanations about Sweet It Is’ win in Perth, but it has now been repeated after this week’s article.

Briefly, the claim is that (a) in the state run-off the bitch met interference costing it five to six lengths, (b) Xylia Allen was strongly favoured by the box draw at Sandown, (c) Sweet It Is was well boxed in Perth outside the railing Xylia Allen, (d) at Sandown it was second-up from a spell and therefore should improve further, (e) it had run “41.40ish give or take a tenth” at Sandown in May, and (f) it trialled well in Perth. Therefore it was the obvious favourite.

INTERFERENCE: When assessing form, one school of thought says that you should always make allowances/corrections for incidents causing a dog to lose ground. Another view is that most interference is due wholly or partly to the dog itself (or the track) so such a run should either be ignored or considered as part of its normal makeup. The Sure Pick people, for example, are in the former camp. However, the evidence is that the latter is the most common experience.

BOX DRAWS: In staying races, a fit Xylia Allen mostly leads, or is very close, regardless of the box. So it was in Perth. Sweet It Is’ alleged preference (to be outside the railers cutting over) is not borne out by its career records which show roughly comparable performances from inside and outside boxes – a factor which is aided by the fact that it is a slow beginner anyway. In Perth it could theoretically have been inconvenienced early by the better beginning Queen Marina (8) but was not because the latter ran a very ordinary race.

TIMES: The 41.40-ish claim for Sweet It Is at Sandown is wrong. It actually ran 41.99 when running second to Xylia Allen, which is within its normal bracket of its times for that track.

SECOND UP: The relevance of being match fit or on the improve is conjectural. An observer has no way of determining a dog’s condition and is limited to the overall experience with this dog and others. However, in this case Sweet It Is had already won first-up. In the following race – the state final – it ran exactly the same time as in the first-up. Ergo, it must have been fit.

TRIALS: The public had no information on what trialling Sweet It Is did in Perth, or prior to its return from the spell, for that matter. More’s the pity. However, long experience suggests that trials, particularly solo trials, have only one positive value – to say whether the dog is fit or not.

I should add that I have always liked Sweet It Is. Not because it is a champion or whatever, but because it is honest, consistent and a genuine stayer. There are few of those around. Indeed, in these columns I remonstrated against Victorian stewards a few months ago when they hauled in her (former) trainer and demanded an explanation for its win at Sandown at 40/1. In fact, the bitch had done no more than it had done at its previous few runs. The stewards simply did not do their form.

In the final analysis, Sweet It Is got away moderately at Cannington, met with no interference, and gradually moved up to nail Xylia Allen on the line. My only problem with that is that it ran much faster time than it had ever done previously. If you re-ran the race ten times, I suggest is unlikely that Sweet It Is would win more than, say, twice. Even to do that, Xylia Allen would have to run poorly, which is likely only when it has been over-raced. Therefore, an odds-on price (on Fixed Odds) was ridiculous and so was its SP of $2.00 in NSW.

I still suspect our correspondent has made the outcome suit her theories. Good luck that she got the result right this time.

Having said all that, there is still one unknown – the value of the recent switch to a new trainer and a new environment. Sometimes, either one of those can work wonders. But the only wonder so far is the Cannington time – and the price. Besides, Xylia Allen had the benefit of advice from the “world’s greatest” trainer – at least in the far background – so it should have been in top order, too.

As for backing odds-on pops, it is fraught with danger. In greyhound racing, if you keep doing it you will lose money unless you are a miracle worker, very selective, and very lucky.

As for the Nationals, I did not back any of them for a win but, somewhat reluctantly, did take a Quinella with Wag Tail and the big two. I lost then, but I think I might try it again.