Not Much Cash On The Plate

After 13 meetings at Bendigo this month and six in the seven days leading up to the Cup, the bunny must be worn out. But it did not stop Ronan Izmir (Elite State-Adhara Izmir – a Turkish influence there?) making it four wins in a row with another immaculate performance. This is a very fine dog up to 450m although how it will go in town is yet to be proved. It has raced well over ’s 513m but that’s an easier trip.

The Cup heats were pretty smart, too, with six of the eight winners getting well under 24 sec. Six of the eight also led all the way, the other two being second out, telling us that box positions and early speed are vital over the 425m trip. I am not so sure about the run into the turn where a bit too much interference is present.

However, two odd things emerged in the Cup. Why on earth did GRV program this meeting in the peculiar twilight/night slot on Sunday when everyone is in church or home with the family? It’s a sure loser

In NSW, not a single race reached $10,000 on the Win tote, making it a poor betting proposition. And the best race? No, not the Cup but a maiden at 7 pm with $9,644. The Cup managed only $9,239. The worst race reached only $5,364.

That’s the second thing. It is yet another unmistakable marker that real punters have disappeared and mug gamblers have taken their place. What will racing authorities do about this continuing trend?

Victorian pools made a bit more sense, averaging around $20,000 up until the Cup ($25,830) but then died off as the night wore on. No doubt oncourse takings would have been boosted the totals.

By comparison, the Bendigo meeting during Saturday twilight the day before the Cup did much better. Even though it was mostly made up of Novice races it attracted pools 50% higher than on Sunday, led in by a whopping $29,884 for a 6.15 pm race. If it’s of interest, on the same night NSW punters bet $42,000 on the Golden Easter Egg Win tote. It makes no sense that a field of novices can get that close to the best sprinters in the land.

More punters, please!


Along with recent efforts by the Australian Institute of Sport (responsible for training and the like) the Australian Sports Commission, which looks after more general matters like finances, has joined in the call for improved sports governance (The Australian, April 2).

Newish chairman, John Wylie, says “one lesson for me from corporate life is that governance principles on a piece of paper are important and useful as a template, but at the end of the day what counts more than anything is the quality of the people sitting around the board table and do they have the courage to ask the hard questions?”

ASC’s key governance reforms include “improved organisational structures; improved board selection processes and gender balance; zero tolerance for lack of transparency by sports on how they spend money; and public-company level requirements for sports financial reporting practices”.

(This column has frequently called for more transparency about the worth of paying greyhound subsidies, for example. Do they really pay off or should the money go somewhere else?)

Sports that fail to measure up now risk having their grants reduced or terminated. In particular, cycling and swimming have been under the spotlight recently for shortcomings in the governance area. So, for that matter, was the former GRV board in Melbourne.

Let’s note that racing does not come under the definition of “sports” in this context. However, racing is in much the same way as most general sports, including several where pay cheques are commonplace. Racing also benefits from government largesse in one way or another.

Let’s also remember that sports betting is racing’s fastest growing competitor for business.

Finally, AIS has expanded on the need for innovation, suggesting attention to “tools to enhance coaching effectiveness such as athlete feedback and tracking technology, athlete biomechanical analysis tools to enhance performance and minimise injury, injury monitoring and projects to drive innovation in sports”.

Those same points would go directly to an obvious need to design and create better greyhound tracks. Today, far too many have grown up in an amateur environment. They fall under the “”we can do better” category.


A postscript on the Golden Easter Egg. While the winner, Grigorieva Bale, was always too well placed to lose, some sympathy should go to Sometimes Speedy, from box 7, which began very well but going around the first turn it got a couple of nudges at the critical time, thereby ruining its chances. At that point it is common for one or more dogs to shift out, thereby often putting another runner out of play. I doubt Sometimes Speedy could have won but 2nd place is still worth a lot of money.

Almost the same thing happened to Billy The Sid in race 7, to say nothing about a couple of thousand other races – ’s Egg win, for example, where shoved off the course. For my two cents, they should blow up the track and start again. It’s just not good enough. There has to be a way to design turns so that these things are the exception rather than the rule. It is not acceptable to put it all down to the luck of racing when better designs can eliminate the problems.

And a note to people writing down times. In race 2 there was no way Gold Town ran 5.39 to the judge the first time, as shown on the website. At that stage it was actually last. It makes you wonder how many times are valid .

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