Betting On The Nationals Doesn’t Add Up

I suggested the Nationals might be a bit mucky, and so it turned out. Tomac Bale did well in the Sprint but cleaned up Zulu Zeus and She’s All Class on the way to the turn, leaving Xylia Allen with an easier run thru after her usual average jump. She did not need a second chance. This is a powerful bitch over 500m to 600m although hard to catch for punters.

Some folk, including the stewards, had doubts about Destini Warrior’s fitness before the start of the Distance race but the trainer and the vet said he was fine and he ran his usual sort of race, jumping well but never really putting his foot down to charge ahead. He is, and always has been, a fair average stayer, no more. The only surprise was that home town bias caused the GRV Watchdog to put him in as top selection, ahead of the better performed Smart Valentino. The NSW dog, with a slow start, made a bit of a meal of it but got there in the end. As expected, WA runner Magpie Bob led for quite a way but the final 42.83 winning time reflected the difference in class between this field and events gone by. Only Smart Valentino himself will ever be capable of much better than that.

In both these cases, the winners are top gallopers but their ability to get out of the box will always make their fortunes problematical. It’s the difference between very good dogs and champions.

However, the prices were funny. For two days prior to the race Tabcorp and all the NT bookies posted Fixed Odds showing Destini Warrior with a clear edge over Smart Valentino. That changed only on the night when common sense prevailed on the tote and Smart Valentino came in strongly. Overall, these very conservative operators were offering books of 130% upwards, which is nice for them but not for punters. They under-rated Smart Valentino while Kalden Mayhem was put up everywhere at the ridiculously short price of $7 or $8. They might like him in SA but his form justified no better than 100/1 and he finished last, albeit with a slight injury. However, he did blow out to $20 at the end.

Conversely, Tasmanian Lashing Jill, a neat and consistent railer, was way over the odds at $40 or more. Prices for the other two Victorians, Mimicking and Set Sail South, both moderate beginners, failed to reflect the difficulty of coming over from outside boxes at The Meadows. They did strike interference but that is normal from out there.

Of course, in both races, the inbuilt bias of The Meadows layout comes to the fore. You need to rail, you need an inside box or you need to jump very well, or you need a great deal of luck.

In the end, Xylia Allen got more luck than she had in the local run-off. A look at the Sprint finish photo shows the most spread out lot I can remember ever seeing in a major race. Smart Valentino was simply a much better dog than the others, doing especially well considering it had not even trialled on the track and arrived in Melbourne only the night before. Expect better next time, and perhaps better management.

What does this add to our knowledge of the betting sector? It adds more questions, actually. Why are all these guys posting almost identical prices? And how do they work them out anyway? There were no practical reasons for the above peculiarities. Is this the tea lady at work? And where are the real bookmakers? Where is the competition driving down the percentages? Essentially, they were having a lend of us.

And good luck to the lucky/shrewd punters who got the First Four prizes in the Distance event – $887 and $1,982 in NSW and Victoria respectively. That’s amazing, considering the favourite won and the second favourite ran fourth. However, it also suggests more Victorian bias towards Destini Warrior.

Some help from Tabcorp saw First Four pools of over $80k for each main race in Victoria and they were quite healthy in NSW, too. However, what happened to the $100,000 pools guaranteed by the same Tabcorp for the two big races?

Finally, here are two suggestions about these multi-state contests. If they do not have local experience, starters should be required to trial on the track so that the public can have more confidence in the likely outcomes. In fact, why not make that compulsory for all Group events? Four Distance starters and two Sprint starters were short in this respect.

Secondly, the local GRV formguides again failed to show sectional times for interstate runners, even though the information had been published by their home states. This is unacceptable. It reflects the sloppy and parochial nature of data exchanges between states. This has been going on for years and it is high time it was fixed. After all, we are a “National” industry.

I might add the local GRV practice of using the Silverlight program to display videos is a messy one. Many systems cannot handle it properly, including mine. No other state uses it but unfortunately GRV has a habit of using oddball programs – see their annual reports, for example, which are extremely awkward to read. Similarly, when they “upgraded” their website I was forced to go out and buy a new and wider monitor to fit it all in (likewise with Tabcorp). No other websites in the world demanded this of me. If you are talking to the public you should concentrate on what the average user needs, not those with all the newfangled gadgets.

Since they are informative, we are repeating here the Victorian stewards’ reports on the two races.

SPRINT
“Tomac Bale was quick to begin. Innisplain Jet was slow to begin. Tomac Bale crossed to the rail approaching the first turn checking Zulu Zeus, Rumbling Rick, Hope’s Up and Innisplain Jet and causing She’s All Class to fall. Hope’s Up and Innisplain Jet collided entering the back straight and on the third turn checking Hope’s Up. Zulu Zeus and Paw Licking collided approaching the home turn and on the home turn checking Paw Licking. She’s All Class was vetted following the event. It was reported that there was no apparent injury found”

DISTANCE
“Stewards interviewed Mr. E. Rinnaldi, the trainer of Destini Fireball, regarding the condition of the greyhound following a 7 day stand down period imposed at The Meadows on Saturday 17th August (expired Friday 23rd August). Mr Rinnaldi confirmed with stewards that the greyhound was 100% fit to race and he expected a forward showing tonight. Furthermore, the greyhound was vetted during kenneling as per normal procedure. A public announcement was made at The Meadows detailing this information.

Destini Fireball and Magpie Bob were quick to begin. Mimicking was slow to begin. Kalden Mayhem, Mimicking and Set Sail South collided soon after the start causing Mimicking to stumble. Destini Fireball and Wag Tail collided on the first turn. Lashing Jill and Set Sail South collided on the third turn and approaching the fourth turn checking both greyhounds.

Kalden Mayhem was vetted following event 7. It was reported that the greyhound sustained an injury to it’s (sic) right calf. A 5 day stand down period was imposed. Mimicking was vetted following the event. It was reported that the greyhound sustained an injury to it’s (sic) left shoulder and left triceps. A 7 day stand down period was imposed”.

PUNTING IS NEVER EASY

The trials and tribulations of racing! In a 596m final last Friday at Geelong, the first three dogs started at $32, $40 and $27 on the NSW tote. Is that a record for a highly graded race? The Trifecta paid $4,210 and the First Four jackpotted but would have been worth $2,655 in NSW, more in Victoria. Three quite well performed dogs – Two Tree Hill, Quo Vadis and Czar – left behind popular racers like Proven Impala and Boris Fields.

Geelong is a newly-built track yet the 596m trip has a bend start. Nuff said.

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