WOW, it’s been a long time since there was a faster and neater racer than Fernando Bale. He never does anything wrong and any distance up to 530m will do. His record 23.39 run in the Bendigo Cup heat was immaculate, leading all the way despite some early pressure from Mighty Sprite. That’s now 14 wins in a row (Miata won 15 in succession).
But the meeting was peculiar in a few ways. Why was it run in the dead time slot on Sunday night, rather than Bendigo’s usual time on the popular Friday twilight? Apparently, nobody at GRV realises most people are doing other things on Sundays. It seems shifting Cup races to oddball times has become a habit. The authority’s betting specialist must not have been consulted as he would surely know the move costs real money.
As a comparison, the average Win pool in NSW on Sunday was $6,199 as against $11,241 on the previous Friday for a very ordinary meeting. In Victoria, the figures were $12,757 and $16,376 respectively. They represent drops of 45% and 22%, never to be recovered.
The better quality dogs deserved better, as did punters who would like more robust pools to play with in important races
The other remarkable thing about the Cup heats was the odd performances from both tipsters and punters generally.
No doubt $1.04 for Fernando Bale in Victoria was understandable – and a more liberal $1.20 in NSW. But there was a repeated pattern to select dogs not ideally suited to Bendigo’s shortish 425m trip. Favourites such as Gaucho ($2.90), Allen Deed ($2.20) and Dewana Result ($2.40) were not only risky beginners but would be much better placed over a longer journey. Allen Deed was touted on the basis of a placing in the 480m Horsham Cup yet the two tracks are like chalk and cheese. Dyna Villa was also very short at $2.90 despite having very mixed form these days and a bad box to boot. It has become very hard to predict.
These sorts of dogs were sorely missed at the previous night’s meeting at The Meadows, which had to have the worst fields seen in the city for yonks. The distance races were especially poor. To coin a phrase, you can lead a middle distance racer to the city but you can’t make it run 725m. Calder Cannon and a few in the main 725m event were exceptions.
I suppose Bendigo’s 425m distance is its flag bearer yet you have to wonder if the 500m trip would not be a better option for quality dogs. It would certainly provide better chances for a wider variety of top dogs.
As for the final next week, Fernando Bale must naturally start as favourite but he does have box 3 and has some nippy beginners all around him, unlike a lot of his recent runs. Some reasonable odds would be desirable. The current quote of $1.20 is not a money maker.
Nice view, but…
Bendigo’s brand new premises are nicely done. Not only are they fairly handy to the track but the lounge-dining area is elevated, giving patrons a reasonable view of the racing. That cannot be said for most of the other new and pricey new buildings around Victoria.
Without exception, they continue the local no-grandstand practice – one which started with The Meadows – so patrons are limited to a choice of low level glassed-in dining areas or a position on the lawn outside (which may block the view of diners). In either case, the viewing angle is too shallow to offer a decent view of racing, especially in the back straight. The buildings themselves are fine and well-appointed but their objectives are obscure. In particular, the Ballarat building is a long way from the track.
To some extent, this design policy may be justified on the ground that few members of the public attend meetings anyway. But it is a chicken and egg situation. If people can’t get a good view of the races they will turn to the monitors inside, in which case they may as well go to the local pub in the first place.
Surely, this is a matter for the architects to solve. More height is needed for everyone and dedicated race viewers are entitled to have some sort of vantage point if they wish to see the live action.
However, across the three eastern states, this need in honoured more in the breach than the observance. The main offenders are dual- or tri-code tracks such as Albion Park, Cranbourne and Warragul – the latter having no grandstand – where patrons automatically turn to the monitors and ignore the good outside seating. Maitland and the former Gold Coast looked into the Western sun. Sale has no grandstand but viewers are also forced to look on from below ground level or stand on a chair. Bulli has plenty of grandstand seating and a nice dining room but all of it is past the post (like the former Olympic Park). So is the camera. Everything, including the track, at Dapto is squashed into far too small a space. Wentworth Park is fine but only so long as it does not rain. And so it goes on.
What it tells us is that there is a severe shortage of standards and planning, all resulting in a hotchpotch of facilities. It is not enough to blame a lack of capital as many of the above problems are new ones. The real problem is a lack of professional management and especially any awareness of customer needs.
Oddly enough, over the last 30 years the best views I experienced were at Newcastle’s Beaumont Park, Orange and Moss Vale (take your own deckchair). All have now disappeared. Thanks heavens for videos.
Salting it away
Where there’s a will, and a way, life can be rewarding. The latest come-from-behind story is being written on Flinders Island which is aiming to overtake its better-known Tasmanian sister to the west, the cheesy King Island.
The Madden family has re-opened its derelict abattoir to process what it is now flogging as “salt-grass” lamb and wallaby, much to the delight of leading restaurateurs in mainland Tasmania, Melbourne and Sydney. With the benefit of clean air and water, as well as the salt-laden Roaring Forties, they have made a difference to both taste and tenderness. The claim is that the iodine-rich pastures not only enhance flavour but also reduce shrinkage under cooking.
According to The Australian (27 June) “the success of Flinders Island Meat has awakened other producers to the potential of strong island-based branding and marketing. Horizons are being extended beyond the island’s population of about 800 to bigger, more lucrative markets on the Australian mainland”.
Of course, this has absolutely nothing to do with greyhound racing. However, it does illustrate what the little guy can do with some imaginative presentation of the product.