Greyhound racing truths are hard to find

CAN we tidy up some misconceptions that worry readers today?

First, “Lone Widow” claims that ”better brains than ours have been trying to eliminate interference in greyhound racing for 100 years”. I disagree. I don’t think they have been trying at all and my brain is certainly better than anyone who keeps building bend starts and thereby raising injury risks and creating more interference.

Second, “In the UK they decided to run the lure on the outside of the track instead of the inside and still get interference”. Not to anywhere near the same degree as we do in Oz. For a start, winning boxes in the UK are fairly evenly spread across all six (not eight) boxes. Proportions vary from 14% to 17%, compared to the wider range of 9% to 21% in Oz. More evenness will generally equate to less interference. Of course, the UK experience is as much due to the seeding of wide and rail runners by the track manager as anything else.

Speaking from memory, I cannot recall any undue interference at the former Wollongong track with its outside lure. The only problem there was for visiting dogs which veered towards the outside fence/lure while canny locals knew staying on the rail was a quicker way of finding the bunny in the end. The track is now a major football ground but the wrought iron gates and brick pillars are still there at the entrance.

Third, the “hooped lure … will move the interference to the middle of the track not eliminate it”. “I think it is an abomination and a pox on the spectacle”. Obviously a very personal opinion but not a logical one. Substantial evidence in three Australian states and New Zealand says it is clearly better for chasing and injury purposes.

Facts beat opinions.

Fourth, “another cause of interference that I have not heard discussed is kickback”. A good point to examine. However, while a reduction would be desirable, it is a purely technical matter requiring reconsideration of both surface materials and muzzle styles (viz the USA practices). Note also the recent spate of surface problems at the new Cannington track.

Then “Todman” is not too happy with our comments about nominations for the Ipswich Maiden Series. Can I suggest he might first read the article more carefully? Effectively, I agreed with him. Then he could direct his attention to the several governments and multiple racing boards which have been responsible for the parlous state of Queensland greyhound racing. No point in abusing the messenger.

My major point in the article was that blaming a shortage of Maiden Series nominations on the live baiting saga and/or new breeding regulations was a thin argument. Longer term factors would be likely to be much more important. Note that whelpings had to take place between August 2015 and April 2016. In turn, that means the breeding decision and preparation must be organised even earlier. In the main, those timings are not consistent with any impact of live baiting incidents or the new regulations.

In passing

For additional but unrelated background, “Todman” might like to know that for almost 20 years I have been pleading with authorities fix the poorly laid out track at Ipswich, but to no avail. Some of those “fixes” might be as cheap as $50k or so to shift the 431m boxes to a safer and more sensible position.

Alternatively, a million or two could go to a complete rebuild. In part, funding would be helped by reducing the unnecessarily high prize money for the Maiden series, by increased patronage for a more punter-friendly track, and by cutting back the club’s travel expenses to places like Cranbourne where rough running is the order of the day and where runners are no bigger than ants to an on-track spectator and all the locals resort to watching races on SKY monitors (all of which relates to the unlikely prospecct of the Ipswich club moving to a fancy new site with dual-code operations).

My personal ratings are that the two worst – most dangerous – trips in Australia are Ipswich 431 and Canberra 440.

Both shove starters into the nearby rail. Dapto 520m and Bathurst 450m would be close behind. In each of those cases the boxes are really badly located. So much for those ancient brains!

Of course, relocating the Ipswich 431m start would also allow the club to fix the flat turn that often throws off 520m runners. Exactly the same issues apply at Richmond with the design clash between its 400m start and the 535m first turn. However, the sad point there is that a few years ago well over half a million dollars was wasted on a complete rebuild of the track – only to repeat the existing faults. Was that due to “better brains”?

For topical evidence, check the video of the Richmond Riches final at Richmond last Saturday. Winner Thirty Talks, a slow beginner on this occasion, got a charmed passage through when half the field ran off at the first turn.

Another reader implied that bookmakers set greyhound markets. If you could find any, I presume. Ah, those were the days! Meantime, today’s prices are actually set by emotion, tipsters, a last start win, Fixed Odds financial manipulators in TABs and the like, and sheep-like gamblers in pubs.

Stewards Report

The Meadows, Race 5, May 28.

“Ella’s Cruising faltered approaching the fifth turn and tailed off. Ella’s Cruising was vetted following the event and was revetted following Race 7. It was reported that there was no apparent injury found. Stewards spoke to Mr M. Cauchi, Trainer of the greyhound. Stewards deemed the performance of Ella’s Cruising unsatisfactory in this event and acting in accordance with GAR 71, Stewards directed that Ella’s Cruising must perform a Satisfactory Trial, All Tracks, before any future nomination will be accepted.”

The first query that comes up is over what distance should the bitch demonstrate a Satisfactory Trial? Supposedly, they are to be performed over a comparable distance yet doing so over the 700s would be pointless.

Secondly, there is no evidence – veterinary or otherwise – that the bitch “faltered”. They just made that up. It did suffer a small bump as it was fading in the back straight but that’s about it.

Third, along with a few thousand other dogs, Ella’s Cruising showed that it could not handle the distance, especially not since it was its first attempt. It had plenty of experience (mixed) over the middle distance but none over 700m or so and its recent form was poor. This would be why the Watchdog commented “Has pace but a big doubt to run the trip”.

Quite right, too, but apparently of no interest to stewards.

Only a very small percentage of dogs can handle the long trip first up. Fading is normal, not the exception. Indeed, in this race the entire field was fading from the home turn, which is why they ran a very moderate 43.10. Put simply, Ella’s Cruising ran out of puff.

It happens.

Past Discussion

  1. Bruce, if you read my post you will see we agree, the market for the Sandown Cup was manipulated by the Corps, TAB, with the punters(mugs) were influenced by the tipsters etc, as you say. But they are not the ones who wrote a story saying the heavily underquoted, and heavily over bet favorite should have been dragged in by the stewards.

    Now I know that with the passing of time and the behaviour of the Corps etc, old style bookies such as myself have been reborn as angels, but we too worked the mugs, or as we used to say, worked the market. Laying a dog at 6/4 when it should be 9/4 is where our profit came from, no bookie wins posting a true market.

    The story you should have wrote was this, how did the tipsters etc ignore what Dublin Bull was likely to do to both No Donuts and Zipping Kane? Perhaps the tipsters are not enough degree’s of separation away from their in practice employers?

  2. Bruce, you said that in the UK track managers seed wide runners and railers, seems a much better idea than that stupid hooped lure.

    The issue of interference on bend starts would end simply if trainers refused to nominate their dogs for those races, but they’re not that aware of the dangers, the mind boggles. I have noticed that Tony Brett has had some starters over the 431 at Ipswich, maybe we could entice his views on the subject.