FIRST impressions of the finish-on-lure trial at Geelong are that fields are more inclined to spread out, at least after the first bun rush out of the boxes. No doubt the wide and high lure is a help in that respect.
Of course, this is a factor not easily measured by statistics but it must be considered along with any differences in injury rates and failing to chase offences. Numbers for both these improved significantly in previous trials in Adelaide and Brisbane.
At the same time, do not forget the contribution made by the shape of this or any other track. Since the art of track design has never been formally studied it is always hard to tell which feature causes what outcome. However, I have several times mentioned an obvious problem at Geelong. The latter part of the turn and the run into the straight proper has always been too flat, causing many dogs to run wide. It appears that the grader (following the GRV curator’s manual) reduces the banking angle too soon. Even the stewards’ reports constantly mention dogs running wide in the straight.
I wonder if comparisons with a velodrome in action might illustrate the point better. That would be the extreme, of course, but somewhere between that and a dead flat surface lies the ideal compromise. In greyhound races that point of the turn is where runners are altering their angle of attack as well as their speed so any abrupt change of banking would have an exaggerated effect on where they run. There is also the variable that maintaining speed on a turn is something certain dogs manage better than others. Other examples of suspect home turns are available at Maitland, Bulli, Goulburn, The Gardens and Sale.
Of course, this is just one strand of the track design question. But it does illustrate how the relevant factors are all inter-connected. We have got to cover this subject more thoroughly in a future article.
Don’t try this at home
Feeling some pain and frustration myself, I checked out the betting for the five main meetings last week. That involved 54 races over a variety of distances. Of those, 11 jumped away with an odds-on favourite. Here is how each of them fared.
Huckleberry $1.70 – Won
Simpatico $1.90 – Won
Aston Cyrus $1.90 – LOST
Dewana Result $1.90 – LOST
Dyna Yemen $1.70 – LOST
Time for Money $1.50 – Won
Zipping Maggie $1.70 – LOST
Paua to Roar $$1.50 – Won
Shanlyn Lucy $1.80 – LOST
Weston East $1.70 – LOST
Moreira $1.60 – LOST
That adds up to four wins from eleven races. An even dollar on each of them returned 61% of your outlay, so you lost 39% of your bank. This is not unusual. Every check I have ever done shows much the same result. In effect, gamblers are losing money before they start. Unless they are extremely selective, they have no chance of making a profit.
So why is this happening? Well, several factors contribute to tote variability.
- Investments are made before prices have settled down
- Investments are made at a reasonable price but that price declines soon after
- Some gamblers are happy with any old price – the “better than bank interest” philosophy
- Their mate or their favourite tipster tells them to get on – regardless
- Small pools are susceptible to fluctuations from medium to large bets
- Mystery bet packages favour the short priced runner
Some of these hassles would ease if betting pools were nationalised and therefore much larger, which is up to state governments to initiate. But even more benefits would accrue were investors to simply study the markets more closely – and particularly the reliability of the runner they want to back. For example, too often a runner is backed strongly on the basis of a last start win yet – statistically – only 1 in 7 dogs win two races in succession, which is hardly odds-on territory. Many more, including in the above examples, involve a move to a riskier box or are in races with volatile bend starts. Other dogs are just risky beginners and therefore demand an extra margin for that characteristic.
Overall, there has to be a suspicion that gamblers (rather than punters) have long since stopped assessing a runner’s real chances and are simply looking at how much cash they might win (as occurs on a poker machine). This has been prompted by the evolution away from old time bookmaker’s prices to the cash amount on the tote board. People may be assuming that $3.00 on the tote is nothing more than a $2.00 profit rather than realising that a price of 2/1 involves an assumption that the runner will lose twice and win once in every three attempts. There is a philosophical difference.
Whatever, better education will always pay off.
Mystery surrounding Sweet It Is
In the shock of the year Sweet It Is has been pinged for a cocaine derivative from a swab taken after a fairly average run at The Meadows on 8 August (in 42.74). Two weeks later it broke the Wentworth Park record by running 41.52 and a week later again it ran a slow 43.02 back at The Meadows. In other words, the presence of the alleged drug did not accord with its race performances
All of which followed a record-breaking win at Auckland which revealed caffeine in its system. Final results of that swab have not been published so far as we can find out. (The NZ website is not very informative).
The bitch has always had an up and down career in terms of race times, which is partly why we have always recommended punters should never take odds-on about it (see above item).
Nevertheless, two apparently positive swabs pose serious questions.
Quote of the week
From Air New Zealand CEO, Christopher Luxon, in The Australian, September 1.
“You’ve always got to have the courage to disrupt yourself rather than be disrupted.”