On Wednesday I made a few comments about the possibilities in the four Bold Trease heats at Sandown. Primarily, I was concerned that many starters were backing up too quickly from previous runs. “Of the 32 dogs drawn, 20 have raced in the last 8 days, 11 of those raced only 5 days ago. The other 12 last raced 10 or more days ago. The lucky finalists, if you can use that term, will have to do it again in another seven days”.
Since I have had the odd request for selections for staying races, I also wrote, somewhat reluctantly, “As for tips? No chance – too many imponderables and too many ordinary performers”.
A reader took me to task about this, claiming I was wimping out and offering some very firm ideas about how the races would be run. In fact, he got every race wrong.
The four winners started at $6.10, $6.00, $11.90 and $20.30 in NSW, much the same in Victoria. Every favourite went down. First Four dividends were $1,492, $462, $1,371 and $3,139 (an estimate as it jackpotted), which means almost nobody got them. “Imponderable” would be a conservative description of all that.
For those winners, the breaks between this race and their previous runs were 10, 25, 12 and 7 days respectively. Of the 11 dogs which had only a 5 day break, none race a place.
Mystic Twist won the final heat, despite doing poorly over the previous month. It got a huge break in running and just managed to hold on, although it did run fair time (42.07). There is nothing like leading on your own. Coulta Rock scored in terrible time (42.75) in its second attempt at the long trip after also failing in its first. Space Star, fresh as a daisy, did really well to run around them, take the lead at the judge and finish in a smart 41.65. Its previous distance form, all at Wentworth Park, had been erratic, winning two from six. Beks did what it usually does, slow out and catching the leader on the line in a solid 42.04.
Sweet It Is also did its usual thing, jumping nicely but dropping back and then trying to bump its way through the field. It did not quite work. Starting at long odds-on, supporters will now have blown their bank over the last few months, notwithstanding some good wins. Never take less than even money about this bitch! It’s honest and strong but not the best field dog.
Flying Twist, a warm second favourite to Sweet It Is, led easily to the judge the first time and then gave it away. It plodded on for fourth, 11 lengths back. It had raced only 5 days earlier.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning the experienced Galloping Rocky which led by half the length of the straight but compounded and missed a place. It also had raced only 5 days before.
All the arguments and excuses in the world will make no difference to the basic fact that the vast majority of dogs cannot show their best if asked to run two distance races in successive weeks. Their bodies are not made to do that. Next week, Space Star will likely go out as equal favourite with Sweet It is in the final but, at the price, I would not back them with monopoly money.
Every heat winner, bar one, jumped straight the front and stayed there. That’s not unusual in better class races. Many are capable of running good time, but few are able to run down a leader doing the same thing. The exception was Keybow, third at the first turn but then proving far too strong for the others in the run home.
Chica Destacada is always interesting. Once she leads she is tigerish in holding on to that lead. The same thing happened at Cannington in the Nationals. You think she is gone but she still keeps going. Not a come-from-behind racer, though.
WA look to be a big chance as Star Recall got away well after bombing the start a week earlier. The final might be between these two, always depending on how they jump as both have ordinary boxes. It is hard to see the heavy hitters catching them in those circumstances.
The big disappointment was Allen Deed. He raced like a tired dog so perhaps a spell is indicated.
Not all logical this week.
Bend starts are kinder than straightaway runs from the 500 boxes? Not according to all the stats. Interference is higher on the bends. I have previously offered three pages of long term data on this subject – free to download for all readers. Email [email protected]
As for the suggestion that a 500m trip poses more problems than bend starts – not really but first check whether the turn is well designed. Most are not. Then go to Hobart, Devonport, Mandurah and Northam and compare their low interference levels with all the important tracks in the major states.
42.58 is not too bad at The Meadows? Well, the average of the last 200 runs there is 42.94 so it is five lengths better than that. However, the record is 42.03 (Nellie Noodles) and it is a long way short of that. However, perhaps I was a bit severe.
Miata was not under consideration for my item about consistency as it addressed current racers only.
Trainers know best how to handle their dogs? Normally I would have to accept that – indeed, we have no alternative. However, in respect to the placement of stayers the facts show that either (1) they are kidding us or (2) they do not know how to place them to best advantage. The tight backing-up syndrome has become normal in recent times but is almost never to the advantage of the dog. That’s not an opinion but the result of analysis of many dozens of dog careers (several mentioned in these columns). It is also the view of many vets – I quoted Dr John Kohnke recently, for example. Other vets have pointed out that the normal dog needs 5 to 7 days to replenish it petrol tank, even after sprint races. Should any trainer be doing before and after full blood tests it would be interesting to hear the results.
As to whether I am entitled to mention some facts, offer opinions and ask questions – together with a couple of million other folk, I pay your wages, mate. I am also helped by visiting and studying in detail some 40 tracks in four states over the last five or six years, and analysing in depth performances at those and many other tracks. Anyway, we should all have one major objective – to make greyhound racing better.
Stewards Report, Race 3, Sandown
“Galloping Rocky crossed to the rail on the first turn checking Reap The Benefit, Mepunga Tiara, Coulta Rock, Double Rinse, Big Kat and Shall She Rock”.
Really? Galloping Rocky, never a railer, began well to lead easily around the first turn. He did not noticeably come in contact with any other runner, let alone six of them. Once again, this suggests stewards are commenting from behind the boxes where they get a distorted view of which does what. In fact, all those other dogs made their own problems as they battled for supremacy while going into the turn.