No problem – just offer formguides in one format from one site so that everyone can access them. That’s what the gallops do. Racing Information Services Australia gives you free thoroughbred formguides from Albury to Wellington, Randwick to Flemington, all in the same format. Not greyhounds, though. It’s all too hard, apparently.
Across the country, seldom can we see states talking to each other. SA and Victoria have a common format and origin for form (via the GRV website) but not for results (the SA results service is from the dinosaur age). GRV also provides a limited service for Tasmanian results, but not for form. Canberra is hosted on the GRNSW site. Otherwise, everyone does their own thing.
There are three major reasons for this messy situation.
The first is interstate jealousies. Everyone likes to pretend they are better than the other bloke. They develop their own systems, none of which talk to each other. If anyone tries to argue the toss, someone will take their bat and ball and go home. That is precisely what happened back as far back as 1994 when Victoria first proposed to Greyhounds Australasia (then ANZGA) that the industry create a common form database, just as it has for breeding. NSW said it was too hard and walked out, so it never happened, not then, not since.
Yes, they have agreed to deal with each other on “regulatory” matters, oversighted by GA, but that’s to do with registrations, race qualifications and the like, not race form as such.
Second, because everyone uses different computer programs, any exchange of information is restricted to what system A can read in system B. Consequently, bits and pieces are left out when one state imports data from another (providing they remember to get it in the first place). The most common problems are with sectional times and running numbers.
Third, some states are sloppier than others in recording race details, primarily running numbers and sectional times again. Only Victoria and WA do a complete job. Typically, many clubs record sectionals for leaders only, which means future assessments will be misleading – it is like showing only winning runs in the formguide. Worse, some clubs record sectional times but do not show the dog responsible. That’s not only frustrating but a complete waste of someone’s time. They also record run-home times but the reader will not have any idea of what dogs ran them (they are of minor value anyway).
Let’s consider how this comes out in the wash. Below is a ranking of all Australian formguides. Over the years, two commercial guides in Melbourne and one in Brisbane have disappeared, while deFax, which is now GRNSW-owned, is seen only in the form of the racebook you buy at the track.
- Greyhound Racing Victoria – internet only, may miss out on interstate data, however the handy version offers only four formlines while 8-race version is too cumbersome – five runs should be minimum
- Greyhounds SA – uses Victorian system and website
- Greyhounds WA – internet plus hard copy at the track, but has non-standard running numbers, omits some qualie data
- National Tabform – by subscription only, but does not include NSW racing
- Racing Queensland – only last three runs guaranteed, no running numbers, even for local races, limited sectionals
- deFax – only last three runs guaranteed, no sectional times
- GRNSW – too much unnecessary information – one race occupies up to four A4 pages, therefore impractical and a turn-off
- Tasmania – only last four races, no running numbers and little sectional data
- Greyhound Recorder – only last three runs guaranteed, no usable sectional data
- Daily Form Service – produced for NSW TAB, and posted at 2,000 TAB outlets, by a contractor with extensive experience at the gallops but none in greyhounds – consequently uses illogical reasoning, non-standard formats and codes which only confuse
The solution to these shortcomings is obvious. Form should not be a competitive matter. It is a simple recording of facts which the industry’s customers then use to help them make bets. They should be easy to read and consistent. RISA, for the gallops, produces a one-size-fits-all model which should be copied by the greyhound industry.
Aside from the requirement that they be easy to read, formguides have to be downloaded and processed by many individuals who make use of their own computer programs. There are undoubtedly hundreds of such programs in use in Australia (including this writer’s) and all would be hampered by the difficulty in managing different formats from one state to another. The industry should remember that neither punters nor dogs care what state the race is running in. They might also remember that all this duplication of work is soaking up millions in extra costs.
All these hassles constitute a barrier to growth and better punting yet the problem could be so easily fixed if greyhound bosses bothered to look out the window and see where their income is coming from.
It’s called good management.