OF course, everyone knows that jumping in front is the way to win greyhound races. But shouldn’t the others be able to have a crack, too? Besides, the spectacle of a big galloper thundering home is loved by all.
Those thoughts came to mind as Geelong ran its Cup heats last Friday. Of the eight races, only two were won by the leader in smart times – Dalgetty (25.32) and Shared Equity (25.48). All the others were in the 25.70 range, more or less, and were characterised by lots of push and shove as they headed into the turn, or even on the turn.
In fact, half way around the turn in heat 4, Yeah Whatever was stone motherless last when suddenly the heads opened up and it railed through. It won by three and a half lengths in 25.78. That’s not what you expect in a 460m race against decent opposition.
Two factors feature strongly around Geelong’s outside track which hosts 460m races. First, unless the dog jumps in front, it is not easy to cross from the outside boxes and win. Statistics strongly favour the rails. Interestingly, 400m races display the opposite trends. Proximity to the turn means inside running is too crowded and the outside dog therefore gets a chance to whizz around them.
Second, almost always, half the field runs wide on the home turn, something which poses both risks and rewards, depending on where your dog is at the time. This is clearly a matter of dubious banking angles.
But back to the Cup heats.
All of them featured heavy interference in that 100m stretch prior to and on the turn, bringing undone a lot of quite smart dogs. Four winners started at double figure odds. Other well-backed runners were entitled to at least run a place but got knocked out of the race. In short, the layout of the track was too much for the dogs to overcome.
This is a classic example of track builders creating a product and hoping for the best, rather than using basic scientific analysis and sound principles to ensure interference is minimised. Geelong is not on its own, as other Victorian one-turn circuits display the same problems to one degree or another. So, too do Bulli, Maitland and Ipswich – the former two not being helped by authorities creating confusing cutaway sections just prior to the main turn. Ipswich 431m and its horrific first turn is simply a disaster.
(By the way, GRNSW made that Maitland change in 2010 after claiming in a media release that such moves “had been successful elsewhere”. No they haven’t. Cutaways are present at Bulli, Wentworth Park, Launceston and the former Cannington and all have produced additional bias and/or higher interference. Dogs have some difficulty in managing a turn before the turn. At Maitland the outcome was more winners from 1, 2 and 8 and more crowding for the others).
In contrast, were you to take the Geelong fields to Hobart, Devonport or Mandurah, different winners would emerge and interference would be drastically reduced. Did they obtain the benefit of science when building their tracks? I don’t think so. It was just good luck.
Incidentally, I can’t support this view with any real facts but Geelong races using the high, hooped lure appear to generate better spacing of runners, especially by comparison with the above lot which followed the standard lure. At the same time it throws into some doubt the variety of shapes and colours used for normal lures. At Geelong the hooped “lure” is an oversized handkerchief fluttering in the breeze. It’s the movement that counts. As another example, the family foxie chases car wheels only when they are in motion. If they are stopped, he just pees on them.
And, for the umpteenth time, could authorities please note that greyhounds are generally colour blind to red. Their eyes are different to ours.
Greyhound racing is a strange industry. It puts huge effort into excellence in breeding and training, and often succeeds. But then it asks those dogs to negotiate tracks where Rafferty’s Rules apply.
How to go broke
The above Geelong results highlight the habit of many punters to over-bet on favourites. Here is a summary of the success rates of odds-on favourites at several top meetings over the last few days.
LOST Sulzanti, Caustic Bale (both notoriously risky beginners)
LOST Absolute Power, Fantastic Sid
WON Top Prosecutor
WON Kevin in Bangkok
WON Cogitate, Zipping Meg
LOST It’s a Plane, Waymores Blues, Captivating,
LOST Its Classified
WON Romeo Comet, Marvellous Mission
LOST Aluminium, Tureaud, South
Total – WON 8, LOST 11.
It’s just not worth it, folks. Losing the bank is virtually compulsory. Odds-on, look on.
Dart board recommended
With a stayers TopGun coming up next week punters might take a careful look at what happened in the 725m handicap at The Meadows on Saturday (after correcting for handicaps as necessary).
The winner, Luna Jinx, ran way below her best but did match recent form at the track. Second placegetter, Shanlyn Lucy, ran much slower than her most recent runs at The Meadows. The others were all 11 to 15 lengths slower than before, including even money favourite Dzeko, which raced like a tired old lady after getting away quite nicely, and despite having a 14 day break beforehand.
The stewards asked no questions. That may not matter much because only a full medical would reveal the facts.
Distance races these days are best handled by using the dart board method. You will have no idea which ones are fit and raring to go.