Stayers Puzzle Punters

What a shame. The minute you write something up, they go and let you down. The “promise” shown by new stayer Irinka Hope in the previous week at Wenty (a 41.99 win) disappeared without a trace a week later over the same trip. It wandered out, settled last and went further back as the race progressed, finishing 20 lengths behind Dusty Moonshine, a smart winner in 41.90. Vets discovered injuries to its offside so we will ignore the run for the moment.

However, let’s note that the bitch was having its fourth distance run in successive weeks, something which is becoming a habit these days. The same applies to many others, including our old friend Late Angel Lee, which returned to a distance at Albion Park it cannot run well (710m) after being tried unsuccessfully the previous week over 520m. It has had nine runs in successive weeks, all but one over 710m. This time it also failed badly, notwithstanding some interference on the home turn.

Horses only rarely do this so why do greyhound trainers persist in asking dogs to do what appears to be the impossible? The odd exception serves only to make it necessary to have a rule banning quick back-ups. Anyway, there is not much point in running them round to finish 6th or 7th, is there? As a matter of interest, Hawthorn had only a six-day break last week and got walloped by a previously out-of-form North Melbourne. So, too, with the Manly Sea Eagles, which were pretty flat when beaten by a persistent Canterbury on Friday night. Bookies were cheering on both occasions.

On the other hand, Zipping Rory made it two in a row with a win in the 725m handicap at Meadows on Saturday, running almost the same time (after correcting for the handicap) as it did the previous week at Sandown. It led all the way this time. Zipping Rory has now run five distance races in successive weeks so we will have to watch what happens next time.

SECTIONALS ARE GOLD

Here is a step forward by WA authorities. RWWA sent out this media release on 2 July 2014.

“Mandurah First Sectionals. RWWA Racing staff have commenced reviewing Mandurah races in order to manually determine sectional times for all runners visible on video at the first sectional point. These sectional times will be added into OzChase the working day after those meetings. This initiative will enable average first sectional statistics and speed maps to be produced once sufficient first sectional data is available.”

There is no information on why it could not install an electronic beam at this point but at least they are trying to do the right thing by punters.

Far too many non-city tracks are without proper sectional timing. With Victoria the only exception, sectionals for trips below 500m (and some above) are either lacking completely or provide one only for the leader. In some cases they may not attribute that time to the correct dog, or any dog, forcing punters to take a guess. Tasmania never does, for example, and the published results assign them all to whatever won the race, never mind where it was at the first marker. Tasmania also fails to offer race videos so you cannot see for yourself.

The result is that Australia’s form databases are corrupted for any dogs with Tasmanian form.

The erratic publication of sectional times is a major barrier for punters who want to patronise shorter races in particular. It means that predictions made in formguides in Victoria and NSW (which is nearly all of them) are extremely risky while Queensland formguides decline to show any sectionals published by other states.

It is also noteworthy that many commentators, including state authorities, are inclined to rate a dog on the basis of one or two sectional performances. Our surveys show that times for even good beginners can vary over a two length range so this can reduce estimates to wild guesswork. The lesson is to be wary and go only on recent form.

As a further example, but on a similar subject, punters might note that, on average, dogs with box 1 typically improve on their average sectional time by one length. First look at the bunny and a bit of room are obviously helpful.

A related point is that some dogs may well jump poorly – putting them at risk – but then go very quickly to the first marker and record a smart time. One such is the very talented Zipping Willow, which has now run four very good sectional times in a row at Wentworth Park but still has trouble leaving the box. A rise in class will make this tougher to execute.

STILL DOING IT

Here is another record, so far as I can remember. The NSW TAB posted fibs for four of the twelve First Four dividends at The Meadows on Saturday. There may well have been others but since they were not jackpotted we have no way of telling. Tabcorp fabricates these dividends by assuming that an imaginary punter has invested 50 cents or less in the pool, thereby coming up with a payout that exceeds the total amount available in the pool. The unit of currency in Australian wagering is $1 but Tabcorp chooses to ignore that, presumably to con future gamblers into having a go next time around. TattsBet does likewise. In any other business this would have to be described as deceptive behaviour.