I HAVE now read four different accounts, including reports from the stewards and GRV, of the running of “world’s richest greyhound staying race”, the 715m Sandown Cup, and not one has discussed the abysmal performance of No Donuts (aside from a brief mention of a swab). All the stories carried not much more than good news items about the winner and its trainer.
As a $2.20 favourite, No Donuts ran an inglorious last, carrying with it some $100k-plus of punter’s cash and no-one has asked questions. No injuries were observed, no special checks during running were recorded, no interview made with the trainer, no vet check was made, yet the dog ran 13 lengths slower than in its heat win and looked like it wanted to be somewhere else – maybe out of the rain.
For yonks now I have been commenting on the Victorian stewards’ shortcomings, week after week, yet even so I have supported the continuation of their place within the existing GRV organisation rather than their removal to the upcoming tricode Victorian Racing Integrity Unit (VRUI). My confidence has been sadly misplaced. Indeed, their failure to act seriously on this occasion warrants a separate investigation itself. Justice was not “seen to be done”.
At the least, given the importance of the race, No Donuts should have been impounded for forensic examinations.
Can you imagine what would happen were thoroughbred stewards to take comparable non-action after the running of the Melbourne Cup? It does not bear thinking about.
Disclaimer: The author had no financial interest in this race – for reasons which were explained in a couple of recent articles. However, we did caution punters and the public about the risks associated with racing too frequently over longer trips, and particularly with No Donut’s irregular history, but the owner strongly disagreed. In the event we were right, he was wrong.
Revealing the Sandown Cup facts
Three distance races were run on Cup night – the Cup, a Listed race and a 4/5th Grade. The 24 runners had all competed in Cup heats a week earlier. Below is a comparison of the times they ran in the two events.
1. Who Dey – 2.7 lengths
2. Dublin Bull + 2.6 lengths
3. No Donuts + 13.0 lengths
4. Wind Whistler + 4 .0 lengths
5. Bells are Ringin – 4.1 lengths
6. Luna Jinx + 5.4 lengths
7. Zipping Kane + 5.8 lengths
8. Kilkee Flex + 3.9 lengths
Listed Cup Night Stayers
1. Mepunga Rosie + 0.4 lengths
2. Dr Leonardo + 0.9 lengths
3. Gunmetal Rebel + 14.1 lengths
4. Brazen Bomber + 8.4 lengths
5. Beks – 2.9 lengths
6. Rynos Raider – 3.4 lengths
7. Esparza + 1.9 lengths
8. Ring The Bell + 5.0 lengths
1. Springvale Bryne – 1.0 lengths
2. Tambay Bale – 1.8 lengths
3. Alpha David + 10.1 lengths
4. Aston Harvey + 8.8 lengths
5. Jaimandy Hatty + 2.8 lengths
6. Lektra Kelly + 2.4 lengths
7. Fantastic Tail + 5.4 lengths
8. Tricky Mover + 7.4 lengths
So six runners actually improved their times, including the three winners, mostly due to better boxes or comparisons with very slow runs in the heats. But 18 dogs, or 75% of the total, did worse. That is consistent with all the other studies I have done over recent years.
1. Most dogs cannot handle two distance races in seven days. The fact that a minority can do it is no excuse for chancing the arm in a vain hope of winning some prize money.
2. As well as running welfare risks, the practice will mislead punters.
3. Computer grading programs should be adjusted to prevent the practice.
4. Clubs should change their race programming.
5. Racing authorities should initiate studies to better determine the impact of racing more often or over longer trips.
6. They should also examine any longer term effects.