Quality Does Count

It really does come out in the wash.

My call for more high standard races may be a long time coming but the evidence is mounting. Take race 5 at Wentworth Park last Friday – a lone Free For All amongst a night of mostly 5th grades. It started off with seven runners but scratchings reduced that to five, making it a sure fire loser in the exotic betting area.

However, in-form, well fancied dogs led to a small bonanza. Princess Black, Ritza Ryder & co led the way home with winners taking the spoils out of a $23,235 pool (in NSW), comfortably the best of the night. Not deterred by the small field, punters liked the quality and bet accordingly. As you might expect, exotic categories were well down on the night’s average.

In contrast, on the same day we saw yet another disaster. The last race at Bendigo, run at 7:19 pm, managed to attract a ridiculous $2,853 in the Win pool, a victim of clashing races in a crowded program. Pity the poor punters who really wanted to have a good go there.

The argument that more is better has got a lot of holes in it.

A DUD INVESTMENT

The season for maidens is building up. Ipswich has just run its “richest ever” series, Warrnambool is around the corner, while Dapto’s auction-based series – also the country’s “richest” – will follow. Owners and trainers love these added prize money events. Why wouldn’t they? It’s money for jam for the lucky winners.

For the industry at large they are a terrible waste of resources.

They encourage generally poor racing, with inexperienced youngsters falling over or crashing into each other. Most of those who buy their way in – via auction qualification – are of a poor standard and will never be seen again. Heats and semi-finals are usually dominated by a tiny handful of quick dogs starting at prohibitive odds. Remember that much of the prize money is provided by commissions from genuine racers in week to week events for which they have to battle with other performed dogs.

Unlike comparable thoroughbred series, which at least give priority to horses which have already earned money, anything goes for the greyhounds. No form or bad form is OK.

As betting propositions, they are a horror. Punters who sustain the industry will be bored stiff.

The concept of promoting the sale of young dogs is a good one but there are other ways of doing that without creating bad races.

It is claimed that these series offer the means for top dogs to come to the fore. True enough, but good dogs would do that anyway by going through the normal progression of maidens and graded races. Why mess it up?

Clubs, themselves controlled by owners and trainers, no doubt see this as a way of catering for their supporters. Yet their prime duty is to put on good races – on which the industry depends – and these maidens fail that test.

BIG ASK

Xylia Allen was not only up for her first attempt at distance racing last Saturday but was also starting in her 4th race in 19 days, including a trip across Bass Strait and back, and had to knock over the champ Miata. Those venturesome souls who backed her in to $2.70 were brave indeed. To justify that price she had to run just as well over the 725m as she had in record runs over the shorter trips. That rarely happens, particularly for a bitch only 22 months old and it certainly did not this time – she ran 42.97, just a 5th grade time. Perhaps maturity will help.

So far, it reminds you of Irma Bale, a brilliant middle distance racer but usually caught short over longer races (yes, including the ones she has won), as it was again on Saturday in the Super Stayers. In both these cases punters face a dilemma, will she or won’t she get the trip?

Overlaying this question is the fact that I can’t recall a top notch stayer ever coming out of the Wheeler production line (have I missed one?). Useful only, but no more.

I wonder why this is so? Bombastic Shiraz could throw them both, so too Token Prince, but I guess the Wheelers are very happy with their steady run of good quality sprinters. And why not? There’s more money there.

TRACK DOMINATES

All-the-way leaders won five of the eight Cup heats at The Meadows on Saturday, and a sixth almost did. Six winners came from the inside four boxes. Just three favourites won on a night when the track seemed a fraction slow. The Super Stayers races were run almost the same way.

Nippy, hard railers are all the go there. Get caught behind or wide like Miata and life becomes very difficult. Miata managed to run only a moderate 42.81. She will want to get away better in the final, or draw the inside.