As promised, we have had a close look at staying performances in 2013 in order to find out which dog has been the fastest around. To do that we scoured the records in all states and pulled out all the dogs with multiple wins and examined their careers.
We ended up looking at 37 dogs but quickly eliminated more than half of those because they had won only 2, 3 or 4 times, In any event, those particular dogs would not have made it through the next check anyway, although Fancy Liza might have been an exception. She disappeared in mid-year, following three smart distance wins.
Other dogs have done well into the current year but did not have enough eligible figures in 2013.
The rules we adopted are:
1. Minimum of five wins. For sprinters we required 10 wins but that is not practicable for stayers because they do not race enough over the longer trips. Non-winning runs are ignored.
2. All wins must be over 699m or longer (thereby allowing Cranbourne 699m to be counted). Including the 650m-680m bracket as well would have altered things considerably but since they are much less taxing on the dogs they would therefore understate staying ability.
3. Times run at each track were then converted to the equivalent at Wentworth Park 720m for ease of comparison. This is done by accessing our library of time conversions, established by surveying thousands of performances at each track where the same dog has run at both.
We see a time assessment as preferable to prize money won or Group points earned, as are used in AGRA tables. There are a few reasons. First, the dogs do not know how much they are racing for and are trying as hard as they can to win in any race. Second, prize money varies wildly from race to race and year to year (even more so for sprinters) and does not necessarily reflect a dog’s year-round performances. Third, was the dog well suited to a particular track? There are big differences there. Fourth, and most influential, luck plays a huge part in successful racing – did the dog have a decent box, was it free of interference, was it fully fit this time, did it travel well, and so on.
The alternative of ranking by Group wins may be more valid in that it usually brings together the best available fields but it also involves only a limited number of races. On balance, it cannot outweigh all the other more practical factors. Consider also that greyhounds are bought, sold and bred primarily on the basis of their speed. In any event, (a) some Group wins are achieved in moderate times (as just happened a week ago) by dogs that cannot get near making our top ten list, and (b) Group status can be bought by a club, irrespective of the quality of the field. One example is the Ipswich maiden series now being run.
A further comparison is that while three stayers made the top ten of the AGRA 2013 points list (Destini Fireball, Proven Impala and Irma Bale), only 14 were in AGRA’s top 95 scorers. This is an obvious reflection of the relatively low attention paid to staying races and the smaller money on offer.
The results may surprise a little but remember we are looking for the dog which is consistently faster than the others. Results are shown in the table below.
FASTEST STAYERS – 2013
|10||Gold Affair Two||5||17||42.42||42.25|
These times may be compared with the Wentworth Park track record of 41.88.
Proven Impala’s staying wins occurred at Wentworth Park, Sandown Park and The Meadows and it also did well over shorter trips.
Others with honourable mentions, in alphabetical order, are Ash Flash, Diamond Lucy, Magpie Bob, Major League, Maddison Dee, Mimicking and Token Mclaren, all with five to eight wins but not in quick enough time. Then followed Bell Haven (which did better in 2012), Cheetah Zorro, Dyna Werribee, Fancy Liza, Fender, Infinite Wish, Mimicking, Set to Shine and Sweet It Is with three or four wins each. None in this list averaged fast enough times.
Note that Miata’s average was affected by its last few runs when it was recovering from a previous illness. It finished racing in May of 2013 but there is no doubt it would have been top of the list in 2012. All Destini Fireball’s better runs occurred in the first seven months of the year. It did not win again until just last week, and then in only average time.
I should add that it is difficult to assess time comparisons between Angle Park and Wentworth Park because of the lack of top dogs at the former and a shortage of dogs which compete at both tracks. Token Mclaren’s times represent our best estimate of the situation. However, it is probably reinforced by the fact that seldom do top SA stayers get into the placings at the eastern state tracks.
There are many factors involved in a dog’s staying successes but our observation is that one aspect dominates all others in a field of otherwise talented dogs – the ability to put itself in a good position in the first 100m of a race. Strangely, few winners come from the back of the field. The odd one that does gets a lot of publicity but it is often unjustified as the victory is more often due to the leaders stopping, rather than the winner thundering home. People seem to forget that the vast majority of dogs are slowing down after they pass the 450m mark. After that it is a matter of which one slows least.
In that context, the layout of a track is hugely influential, more so that it should be. There is room for racing authorities to pay much more attention to improving the details of track design. First turn clashes occur just as often in staying races as they do in sprints.