There was something for everyone at Sandown on Thursday night, including some quite smart wins led in by Ollie Bale’s 29.32.
Most remarkable were two last to first runs by Dyna Ostrander (29.71) and Wind Whistler (29.49). That sort of thing happens rarely in sprints, particularly not around a circle track, but both did it well.
However, the Free For All (race 8) was really odd. Several dogs got a look at the bunny but could not go on with it, leaving Tyronimo to storm along the rails in a solid 29.59. Favourite Keybow was well under the odds on recent form but managed only to plug along for 3rd place. Quick Succession, which should have been favourite but was way over the odds at $8.20, led easily but dropped out on the home turn, apparently suffering from a minor injury. The well performed Musquin Bale had a peek but could not go on with it.
Whatever the reasons, most of these dogs looked jaded. Previously, all have run equal or better time than the winner. But all except one (the rank outsider) also raced last Saturday at The Meadows, five days ago, and have had a solid campaign behind them. Too solid, it seems. Do they need time to frolic in the paddock?
The big race went predictably. Xylia Allen, after an uninterrupted run from box 2, got home comfortably in 41.90 to qualify for the National Championships. That’s a pretty average time for the trip and three lengths slower than it ran in its heat a week earlier. Indeed, the much lower rated Zipping Maggie chalked up its first distance win in the following race, a 5th grade, running one length faster time than Xylia Allen.
It is also a pattern that Xylia Allen has repeated time and again, demonstrating that it can’t back up very well in successive weeks. Nor can most of the others although Dyna Willow was unlucky to be barrelled on the first turn. Sweet It Is runs like a clock in any distance race and its 2nd placing in 42.12 was to be expected but will never be good enough to win a top class event.
Xylia Allen now faces a transcontinental voyage, a strange track and an unknown box in a couple of week’s time in its attempt to win the National event. Make sure you get good odds. With a clear run for both it is hard to see how it can hold out NSW stayer Dusty Moonshine, assuming it wins tomorrow’s run-off at Wentworth Park.
Meanwhile, Wag Tail scraped home at Albion Park in a fair 41.99 to book a ticket to Perth. It is an honest trier and can probably do better if it gets an inside box and some room but still looks only a place chance.
Finally, Victorian stewards rate yet another mention following this comment on race 4 at Sandown: “Strange Wish was slow to begin”.
In fact, Strange Wish speared out of the box, led by three lengths half way down the straight, ran 5.02 to the judge and then led until the home turn. When they write stuff like that, it does not give you much confidence about anything else they do. Thank heavens for race videos.
Online bookie Bet365 lost $40.8 million in the just completed financial year as it tried to establish a beachhold in the Australian online market. Revenue and customer numbers were well up but so were expenses for its 210 employees. It now claims 11% of an online market of about $13 billion.
Bet365 in Australia is majority owned by a British billionaire via its parent company of the same name.
Readers will remember Bet365 was on the other side of a claim by NSW owner/trainer Matthew Brunker last year before the Northern Territory Racing Commission.
Brunker invested thousands of dollars with Bet365 on a range of First Four options in a Maiden race at Ipswich and, when it succeeded, expected a huge payout for four winning bets. Previously, someone had placed Win bets of some thousands of dollars on an un-raced dog to make it a short-priced favourite. However, Brunker and his associates left that dog out of all their First Four combinations, raising the suspicion of Bet365 that the race was “fixed”.
A big complication was that Brunker claimed for four winning combinations each paying $14,000 on the Tattsbet tote – a claim that Bet365 first rejected and then later agreed to part-pay. The anomaly is that there was less than $4,000 cash available in the normal Tattsbet pool to pay out winning punters. However, like its opposite number, Tabcorp, the Queensland tote publishes fanciful figures for First Four dividends when no winners are available. Both assume an imaginary investment of 50 cents or less and so artificially inflate the published dividend – presumable to encourage lottery-like investments from mug gamblers.
While the NTRC basically supported Bet365 actions because of its listed rules, it also recommended that Queensland stewards and police should review the case for fraud. There is no record of any such police action while the stewards looked at the case but found no breach of the rules, despite the fact that the hot favourite finished last in the race and there was considerable doubt about the way it had been prepared for the race.
Subsequently, Bet365 amended its own betting rules in order to restrict payouts where “incorrect” dividends had been declared. This generated numerous complaints from its existing customers, mainly because it left Bet365 with the ability to decide what was correct and what incorrect.
Racing was not the winner.