The Megastar at Dapto last Friday was indeed an interesting race. I found it pretty hard to sort out but went for a small each-way bet on Double Twist, mainly for the value and her fine record on the track. She can be erratic at the jump but generally goes better at Dapto. In addition, the three dogs inside her were all just average beginners. In the event, she did as promised but unfortunately the winner got underneath her in the back and nudged her out of the chances.
Both Peter Rocket and Glen Gallon are very fine racers, especially from the inside, and once they lead neither is likely to be run down.
Incidentally, Glen Gallon’s sectional career (see below) is coloured by the fact that he does a lot better at his home track at Albion Park than elsewhere.
All the rage was Zulu Zeus, boxed out in the 8 where he has done well before. But that was not at Dapto where the penalties can be extreme if you do not lead. Nor did he, and that is why he failed, despite being the best dog in the race. Bookies would have done well, but they often do at Dapto.
The table below shows the sectional times these dogs took into the race (their averages over their last 10 runs) and what they did on the night.
Finishing Position Average Actual
1. Peter Rocket (2) 5.54 5.55
2. Glen Gallon (3) 5.43 5.53
3. Proven Nitro (1) 5.54 5.55
4. Jagger Swagger (5) 5.44 5.46
5. Amadeus Strikes (7) 5.47 5.49
6. Double Twist (4) 5.51 5.39
7. Zulu Zeus (8) 5.44 5.52
8. Mexico City (6) 5.45 5.57
At 5/4, Zulu Zeus was the right price for a race at Wenty but not for Dapto and its messy start and poorly designed first turn. Never has so much been spent on a single track for such a poor return.
The odd thing about Friday night was that both Dapto with the Megastar and Shepparton with its annual Cup final were programmed outside their normal slots. I have never thought that was a sensible practice as fans get used to a particular time and like to stick to it. Still, the Megastar polled well with $32,600 on the local Win tote, which is better than Wenty usually does on Fridays.
Incidentally, after all the talk about this being a terrific Group 1 $75,000 event, people seem to have forgotten that Dapto, with the late Billy Dwyer to the fore, ran a series of $100,000 Greens Supercoat races some years ago. The Oldfields would remember them well as November Earl “won” one of them, only to see the prize taken away after a faller ran back into the field. They split the cash amongst the eight runners.
MUSICAL CHAIRS A RISKY EXPERIMENT
While at the provincials, spare a thought for Warrnambool. I don’t know if it drew the short straw or the long one but its move to Thursday nights has done it no favours. It is not only up against four capital city tracks plus Dapto but also at least two harness meetings. Apart from missed starts at the trots, that’s seven minutes between races. Consequently the pools are terrible, and generally less than half what the club usually does.
In NSW it averaged just under $5,000 in the Win pool and only $8,800 in Victoria. Three races in NSW failed to reach $4,000, which makes it a mug’s game. The exotics were similarly poor. The biggest pools in both states came in race two, just after 7 o’clock, for a very ordinary maiden. Let’s hope they do better when their major events come up.
Separately, in what is now a Thursday night habit, Albion Park again comfortably outpointed Sandown on the NSW tote. Angle Park was another diversion as it was running the Derby heats and the Oaks final.
More generally, you have to wonder how long this can go on. If you put on more races you have to find more customers, but that is not happening so the pie is being cut into smaller pieces. Wall-to-wall racing is doing no good for keen punters, and nor is the constant head swivelling to keep up with SKY1 and SKY2 screens. It must eventually force people away from the code. It certainly will not attract newcomers unless someone can work miracles and get all states and territories to combine their resources and their pools.
AROUND THE TRAPS
Proven Impala. Amazing. Its last two wins at Wentworth Park – in 42.03 and 42.01 – represent an improvement of four to eight lengths over anything it has done over the long trip in the past at any track. The near four-year-old has been racing over the 700s only for the last seven months. Previously it had lots of sparkling performances over 500m-660m, mostly when it began well. It’s always been solid and honest over longer trips but, until now, not quite in the top echelon. The Chairman’s Cup victory changes all that. (By the way, contrary to some comments, Proven Impala actually has a fairly poor record from the outside box but it did manage to outspeed this field).
Xylia Allen. Not sure why they took her to Adelaide for the Oaks. The tight track at Angle Park has always been a burial ground for moderate beginners, no matter how good they were otherwise – see multi record holders Awesome Assassin and Whisky Assassin, for example, or even the great Miata. Xylia Allen was never really a chance in the Oaks, and terrible value at $2.25, especially from box 5.
Cawbourne Looney. Does it have a head problem? On paper it was the best credentialled dog going into the Chairman’s Cup series yet it hardly raised a gallop. The failure to jump well and get to the rail turned its mind to other things.
Gold Affair Two. What a crazy, even ridiculous, plot this was? Racing rules should never allow this. After winning nicely at Sandown over 715m on Thursday night it turned up 24 hours later for a 650m event at Shepparton. It still performed creditably in a close second to Quo Vadis in smart time. The problem is that while everybody said it looked fine, how can you know what is going on inside the dog? And how can you bet sensibly on the race? 24 hour backups are a no-no from the veterinary viewpoint yet this one came off. Do not try this at home.