Dyna Nalin’s win in the 2013 Sale Cup was not only a gutsy one, but also a much improved run – from 37.53 in its heat to 37.27 in the final. It had faded in the heat, as well as in its two previous middle distance runs at Cannington, but it seems the experience made the difference. Still, it is mystifying that it started at around the same price as Lucy Wires and Dyna Willow, both well proven over the trip, with the latter a much better beginner.
Also surprising was the favourite’s short price ($1.40 or $1.60, depending on your location), given that this was a final, with much more pace in the race and an ordinary box (7). Dyna Willow was also coming off two near-record runs at Wentworth Park and a heat run of 37.23 which was very competitive with the favourite’s 36.96. Still, that’s the nature of the beast these days. Last start wins always count.
But pay attention to the layout of the Sale track. Nominally, the 650m run is a good one and unique in Australian middle distance racing as it offers a three long straight runs – one at the start, one down the back and one on the way home. Yet the track falls well short of excellence because of its turns.
The first one is short and tight so many dogs do not handle it well. Note, for example, the heat run by Alpe d’Huez, a box one bandit, yet it still speared off at the first turn, losing whatever hope it had of beating the favourite.
The home turn is more of a puzzle, particularly the last half of it. It is common in any race for leading dogs to lose their course in small but significant ways, causing clashes and resulting in some putting paid to their winning chances. That to and fro is a function of the detail of the curve. The unevenness has been there for years, before and after the major re-building of a few years ago. That change, incidentally, also saw a poor 511m bend start become an equally poor 520m bend start. GRV forgot that it had a firm policy of not creating any more bend starts and failed to take the opportunity to fix this one. There is buckets of space there to allow for a straight-in approach to the back straight, but that option was not taken (shades of the nation’s best-ever middle distance trip – the now-deceased Toowoomba 555m).
The main suspect for the home turn query seems to be that the boxes were put in position first and only then was the circuit completed, almost as an afterthought. When that happens (The Gardens is another example) cambers become flat or irregular, thereby confusing the racers.
Back to the Cup. Noaki Spitfire led into the final turn, but then Phenomenal, which earlier had no trouble going underneath Dyna Willow, was noted running into its backside. Well, true enough, but why did that happen? This is a reasonable field dog and it had found its way through to that spot without hassle. The most likely answer is that some combination of levels, turn radius, lure type, etc, created the confusion.
Note that not only did that hold up Phenomenal, but the bunching and the camber also pushed Dyna Willow way off the track, ruining its chances of a win. Even so, it was taking ground off Phenomenal by the time the post arrived. Anyway, with both top dogs in trouble, Dyna Nalin whizzed through on the rail for a smart win.
Some will say that’s the luck of racing, and that’s fair enough. But the cause of that “luck” was a poorly designed turn. A good home turn must have an even velodrome-style shape which encourages runners to maintain a consistent course. Sale doesn’t.
They Have Done It Again
Last week’s article on “Business Sense” pointed out the folly of ramming yet another meeting (Shepparton) into a space already fully occupied by three codes of racing on Thursday nights – a period of peak greyhound interest. The available cash was then spread over more races, diluting all the pools and further confusing patrons.
Last week it was on again. But this time the addition was quite ridiculous. The extra meeting to make up the eight was at Warrnambool, which at first glance was pretty similar to the week before. Look closer and you will find that all those extra races were maidens which could well have been put on any time from breakfast to midnight on any day of the week. Instead, they did battle with the best dogs in the land racing in five capital cities. There were eight competing greyhound meetings in total.
The dominance of mug gamblers meant that the Warrnambool debutantes pinched turnover from well performed dogs, including some competing in the Laurels final at Sandown, as well as in the Cup final at Sale.
Here are average Win tote turnovers on the NSW TAB that night at selected tracks (Victorian turnover would have been higher for their local meetings):
|Albion Park||$10 349|
All of those pools are really too small for good punting, especially as only about half those amounts would have been visible before the betting deadline arrived. Removing the Warrnambool meeting would not have revolutionised turnover, but that money would almost certainly have filtered through to the better quality meetings.
Instead, mug gamblers invested in unpredictable dogs. That does not look like a sensible policy.
The point authorities are missing is that there is a finite amount of money available from punters at any one time, so the more races on the schedule the smaller each pool will be. Even if winning punters wanted to bet more often, the constant flow of close-spaced races makes it physically difficult to do that.
A message to this column claimed that hand timing produced quicker times than electronic timing. Well, that has not been so for the last 50 years so I will stick with increasing my times when hand timing is involved.