The Nationals look like providing some real challenges for punters.
The Sprint has more pace in it than last week’s runoff in Victoria though it is still possible that Paw Licking will again lead around the corner from Tomac Bale. However, runners from Tasmania and SA (She’s All Class and Hope’s Up) are no slouches and could get in the road. Over on the rails, Xylia Allen and Zulu Zeus are a little up and down at the jump but you never know. Both have lashings of ability but could get squeezed back.
Otherwise, it is hard to see WA and Queensland figuring but how they get around that turn will dictate the result.
The Distance event is a different story. Seven of these are only average to fair stayers, never mind the publicity. The exception is Smart Valentino from NSW. During the last several weeks only two stayers have really run time anywhere in the country, both at Wentworth Park. Cawbourne Looney (42.06) is not in this race but Smart Valentino is (41.96). (A hint for the future – Cawbourne Looney does not like going around another runner, which is why it ran much slower time when winning at its last start).
The trouble is that Smart Valentino is not a great beginner and likes to race a couple off the fence. Its rails draw will be an advantage only if it gets out well and possies up in the first few. It did that in a near record run over 618m at Richmond back in April but the bend start and box 1 were big assets there. So while it has won two from two out of the red the more important thing for it is to avoid checks. But will it be suited by the tighter track at The Meadows? Not sure about that, but if it likes the conditions it could win comfortably. It should certainly be finishing better than anything else.
A guide to the others can be seen if you compare their better times with the track records at their respective homes.
1. Smart Valentino – +2 lengths
2. Destini Fireball – +10 lengths (but has run +5 lengths previously)
3. Wag Tail – +12 lengths
4. Lashing Jill – +8 lengths (few top liners have raced there, but did beat Bell Haven)
5. Kalden Mayhem – +15 lengths
6. Mimicking – +10 lengths
7. Set Sail South – +10 lengths
8. Mapgpie Bob – +9 lengths (but slower in runoff when LAW).
Given Smart Valentino’s above challenges and Destini Fireball’s inconsistent form lately, throwing a dart at the racebook might be the best solution. Having said that, and despite it getting off the track on occasions, Destini Fireball was not suited by its outside box last week (few dogs are) and box 2 is its most successful. Both those inside two dogs are likely to be “unders”, making profits difficult. However, with some confidence, you could leave out Kalden Mayhem from the multiples. It beat a sorry collection of alleged stayers in slow time at Angle Park to make this event and is hardly an improver.
Given the tricky nature of The Meadows layout, outside runners are going to be up against it unless they can lead early.
A likely leader? Well, Destini Fireball could do it, if it is on the job. Ditto for WA runner Magpie Bob, but I can’t see it as a winner. Either way, it is all much too hard.
I have said so before but it is worth repeating. The staying art is a lost cause at the moment and shows only very occasional signs of a resurgence. The Nationals re-inforce that view. Currently, state authorities are investing big sums in bonuses for distance races, mostly for ordinary dogs. But I don’t think the dogs know there is extra cash involved so there is no hope of a return to former glories until breeding patterns change.
Indeed, it is an extraordinary situation that a middle distance racer like Irma Bale (which yet again failed to run out the trip in the Victorian runoff), can earn so much money from staying races ($580k). It tells you the bitch is consistent and a real trier but it also tells you a lot about the opposition. In fact, taking a line from the trainer’s recent comments, it would be good to see more prominence given to big time 600m events. There are plenty of good dogs that can get that trip.
ANOTHER WARNING FOR FUTURE BRISBANE TRACK DESIGNERS
Ah, the luck of racing! Last Monday, that very fine racer, Glen Gallon, lined up again at Albion Park in a Best 8 containing a smaller and more modest field than it met in the Nationals run-off (see One Race Tells All, 15 Aug). Yet, from box 7, the same thing happened again. Three dogs were competing for the same few centimetres at the first turn, Glen Gallon in the middle. They got him, and back he went to the tail, eventually finishing fourth of six. So much for one of the best field dogs in the business.
Luck, maybe. Track design, definitely.
EVEN MORE PECULIAR
Is it a drug? Not sure, if Queensland trot stewards are any guide. They have banned the use of molasses on race days. Since it is just a form of sugar they must be worried about it being an energy drink. However, it does contain tiny quantities of minerals and trace elements (but what doesn’t?)
For information, apparently trainers use a dash of molasses in the drinking water. They say horses don’t like water that is different to the stuff they are used to at home so they always add the molasses to make it taste the same everywhere. They are not happy about the new rule.
I wonder how the early explorers got on? Or competitors in endurance rides? Or the Olympics? And do footballers use it?
In support of the horses, here is a personal experience. During a visit to hospital last year I was forced to drink bottled water, a product I normally never touch. I found it unpalatable because it tasted of plastic, but what choice did I have? I couldn’t make it to the tap, although they could. Also, the meals, including sandwiches, were trucked in from 70 km away and then either re-heated or kept cool, presumably to save costs, but not to save the environment. We live in a funny world.