David Beckham is retiring at 38 years of age. His former teammate at Manchester, Ryan Giggs, is even older and still going strong. Ricky Ponting retired at 38, but only from international cricket, and half the Aussie Test team is in their thirties. So are a huge number of NFL players in America – one famous quarterback, Brett Favre, played for the Green Bay Packers and others until 40. Petero Civoneceva played for Penrith and the Broncos until 36 (and this year in the local Brisbane comp) while Dustin Fletcher is still going strong for Essendon at a year older. All famous, respected people and favourites with the fans.
In dog equivalent, these guys are 5 to 6 years old.
By comparison, those dogs in the three Veterans races at Ballarat (mentioned here the other day) averaged only 4 years and 4 months of age. And they included a few females.
Checks suggest that some veterans (not all) may lose a little of their early speed yet still retain the ability to achieve good overall times. Apart from anything else, that’s probably a good reason to separate them from mad keen youngsters.
No doubt Victoria could do even more but it is a sad day that other states take little interest in these proven campaigners. They offer opportunities to create fresh attractions for customers and welcome outings for the dogs and their owners and trainers (giving the lie to those oddball critics who claim dogs are “forced” to race). Even feature events could be put on the calendar. It would be good PR.
For that matter, why is there no coursing in four popular greyhound states, especially the largest – NSW? At worst they would extend the knowledge of the breed in the public arena. At best, they would offer serious options to dogs better suited to this type of racing. There is also evidence that coursing experience can help many dogs regain their keenness for racing on the circuit.
All these things are win-win possibilities, which is more than you can say for punters trying to bet on dogs with one win in 20 or more starts, as we are asked to do today.
THE SANDOWN REPORT (CONTINUED)
And good luck to all those fans who took a silly $1.40 about Miata, returning after a 3-month injury layoff and just scraping home at Sandown last Thursday in moderate time. Perhaps they forgot to read the formguide. But will she improve next Thursday in the final, or will the second-up syndrome apply? The champ ran an honest race last week but had had enough at the post. Either way, odds-on, look on.
Incidentally, the GRV formguide failed to show Miata’s sectionals for her previous two runs at Cannington in February. If you are interested, they were 15.54 and 15.43. Lots of NSW sectionals were missing, too, although they were published earlier in GRNSW results.
Happily, Ronan Izmir showed the benefit of the run the previous week and scored in a smart 29.46. The lesser opposition helped, too. It may not have liked being hassled all the way last week.
Favourites did well, taking out six of the eleven races but the usual bolters amongst the placings resulted in four First Fours over the $1,000 mark. If they are handy into that first corner they are hard to run down, no matter their ability.
But what do you do with Xylia Allen? After a terrible start she did an amazing job to get through the field and run down top galloper Punch One Out – running away on the line, too. She will be a risk in the final but how can you leave her out?
STEWARDS DEBATE WORTHWHILE
Discussion of the need for a national stewards organisation may or may not lead anywhere but it does bring up comparisons with other fields of activity. Some legislated functions have been “nationalised”, some have not, many are mooted and Federal-state relations are often strained as a result.
However, the classic case is that of aviation, where decades ago the states ceded control to the commonwealth, mostly because of the need for operational consistency. Technicalities are controlled from Canberra with branches in every state and territory. That recognises that supervision of pilots and mechanics (trainers and jockeys?), of landing strips (racetracks), of aircraft performance (fitness of horses and dogs), of flight navigation (conduct of races) and of the task of aeronautical engineering (veterinarians) are all matters which demands highly skilled, independent oversight and a good deal of technical research and innovation. In both cases the job is getting more complex every year, requiring large lumps of backup staff and systems and the global exchange of information. All that is why flying is the safest way to travel.
None of that affects the state’s right to handle the economic regulation of local air routes, should it wish to do so, just as local allocation of race dates and prize money caters for special, regional needs. Even so, racing recognises a need for national co-ordination of start times and the like, albeit that is under the wing of Tabcorp and its SKY offshoot. Somebody has to do it, I suppose.
It is hard to think of any negatives in the nationalisation of stewards but there are certainly a lot of positives, notably in the value that customers would place on consistent and equitable treatment.
State authorities may huff and puff on this, wanting to hang on to their empires. Still, that may be another reason why it should happen. It bears serious consideration.