It’s The Rules! But Which Ones?

How much are national racing rules worth? Here is how Greyhounds Australasia explains it.

“R6  In the event of the application of the Local Rules of a Controlling Body other than Greyhounds Australasia Rules, the Local Rules of the Controlling Body shall apply and form part of these Rules.”

This tells us that national rules don’t mean a thing if any one state has another idea. The NSW local rules alone take up over 100 pages. Is there a point to all this? Do we really need these multiple variations?

It hardly resembles a federation of states. It may not be drawing too long a bow to say it reminds you of Afghani warlords ruling with an iron fist over their own fiefdoms while paying lip service to the national parliament in Kabul.

Meanwhile, back to the task. We have some suggestions.

(1) Fighting, as it was once known

Last Monday’s item about 600m bend starts finished off with a comment about fighters – the politically correct term is “marring”, which is actually an incorrect use of the English language  – and the absence of genuine penalties for offenders. However, there is more.

If the stewards spot a fighter, the worst that can happen is that the dog is outed for 28 days at the track in question, providing it is a first offence.  This is completely illogical as it means the dog can nip down the road and race again as soon as it likes and offend again. It further implies that somehow the track caused the problem yet never has any evidence ever been produced to support that view. Perhaps the dog is naturally belligerent, perhaps it was irritated by a minor injury, or perhaps it just didn’t feel good that day.

Either way, it’s the trainer’s job to sort it out so a major consideration would surely be that it really needs a short holiday away from racing. Commonsense suggests he should apply the penalty himself.

I once suggested to GAL that the Rules should be adjusted so that they made no distinction between fighting and failing to chase. The grounds there was that it was often difficult to distinguish between them but that fighting, in any event, automatically involved FTC. You can’t have one without the other. GAL did eventually combine the two rules into one. Now it should go two steps further.

First, the 28 day penalty should apply at all tracks. It is no help to anyone, including the dog, to restrict it to a single track, which is hardly a penalty anyway.

Second, and more important, fighters should never be able to pick up prize money. They should be disqualified from the race, not just suspended from racing, and the prize money should go to others. To do less is to insult the victim (or even cause a brawl behind the boxes). That decision should be made promptly, prior to declaring correct weight, and punters paid on the corrected placings.

By doing that, greyhound racing not only achieves natural justice but it also brings it into line with every other type of racing, horse or human. For like offences, athletes get thrown out, pacers get relegated or disqualified, and so do gallopers. Immediately. This is precisely why racing has a pause before calling correct weight.

The grapevine tells me that previous GAL consideration of such a change failed because stewards were said not to have time to consider the question properly. This is nonsense. They do most of the job anyway right after the race, just as they did at Sandown last Thursday. The objection that offenders have the right of appeal is irrelevant. You cannot argue against an obvious fact – ie fighting another dog – which was established by an expert with film to back him up, usually with the trainer in attendance and in agreement. You may argue about the reasons for the offence but that would affect only the ultimate penalty, and does not alter the act itself.

(2) Better Boxing, Better Racing

Next to think about is Rule 22, which governs which box is occupied by a reserve when a vacancy occurs. It is supposedly a national rule but each state is able to, and does, do its own thing. Let’s leave aside the question of choosing either first-out, first-in, or a ballot for a single empty box. That’s not too vital. What we should have is a rule change, in the event of two vacancies and only one reserve, which requires authorities to allocate the best box for good racing purposes.

So, if 1 and 5 are empty, then the reserve should go into 1, never into 5. That follows the existing rule for allocating boxes for a field of fewer than 8. This would not be a gigantic move, but it is a necessary one.

Next time we will want to talk about Rules covering rug colours

(3) Elsewhere

Everyone is talking about Gold Town’s love affair with Wentworth Park. True enough, but could it be because it has to get down lower in the NSW boxes than in those at Melbourne city tracks? I also note that Victorian visitors often get out quickly in Sydney but the reverse is not so common.

Should the dog’s viewing aperture be made the same all around the country? There is no Rule for that; it’s a matter of local opinion, which is always a risky way to go.

WARNING

Anyone relying on the official formguide for the SA Cup heats tonight (as produced by GRNSW) will find some official Angle Park trial times and general sectional data are missing for Victorian dogs.

For example, for Powerhouse sectionals, GRNSW says “No Data Available”. Never mind, we suggest going to the GRV or GWA website to get this information on individual dogs. In this case, my own records show 33 separate sectional times for this dog in both Victoria and WA (or 34 including its trial at Angle Park).

Other Victorian-based dogs will have similar gaps. This is getting to be a national disgrace!