Thoughts Of The Week

Dogs are a lot like football teams, aren't they? The ones that get off to a good start do well. Niggling injuries don't help. They need to have had time to recover from their last bout. Some travel better than others. Off-days can happen. Hard training counts when the chips are down. Professional attention to bodies is essential. Luck is important. And, all other things being equal, class counts.

Are Licensed Clubs like Race Clubs?
Well, they do depend on gambling commissions,.although less so for the more successful ones. According to a report in The Australian, RSL clubs are suffering “as the final waves of World War 11 Diggers pass away”. In NSW alone, 43 have closed or amalgamated in the last decade. In Melbourne, “children of those people haven't got the same emotional connection”, says the president of Hampton RSL.

The highly successful Rooty Hill RSL (a major sponsor of dogs) operates a child care centre, a bowling alley and a hotel. Its CEO says “gaming is still an essential part of our business but it is not the only reason we are here”. In ancient times, Rooty Hill was best known as the site of live hare .

Australia has some 6,000 licensed clubs. The majority would have some sort of TAB facility.

Better Betting Opportunities?
More than one commentator suggests that to get people back to the track more incentives are needed. Cut the deductions on on-course totes? Bookmakers to let you back or lay a runner? A barrier to changes like that are “horsemen who are determined to maintain the status quo and want to see the back of Betfair”, says another observer.

Do you know that, except for Win and Place, Tabcorp takes out 20% to 25% of your bet whenever international pools are in play, and often when they are not? No doubt the overseas bets are not great but the policy affects all Australian investors anyway. The actual deductions vary significantly between NSW and Victoria – with Victoria being worse. Those takeouts are way in excess of those of poker machines or casinos. Only lotteries are hungrier but at least they pay for hospitals and putting more policemen on the beat. Tabcorp is on a win-win there, doubly so when Mystery bets are involved.

More competition, perhaps?

The Whole Truth?
The chairman of says that greyhound racing is successful because it “meets the needs of modern society”. Really? Why, then, has dropped by 10% since 2003?

Why are serious punters disappearing? Why don't fans attend racecourses? Why do the generally ignore greyhounds?

Corporate spin?

Beautiful One Day, Ho Hum the Next
has finalised what it calls a “greyhound industry development strategy”. In fact, it adjusted a few grading rules and fine tuned some details. These could properly be titled administrative matters. Not a word about a new track, any marketing measures aimed at encouraging more customers, or doing something about the shortage of dogs in the state.

Although NSW will soon start doing the Queensland grading, RQ will not adopt a worthwhile NSW policy that requires Performance Trials prior to competing in TAB events. Punters – or more likely gamblers – will still be asked to bet on un-raced runners. Still, that happens in other states as well.

RQ still does not work weekends or public holidays even though it races on those days. Results for Fridays and Saturdays are not published until late morning on Monday. (SA is the same but other states are much more prompt).

Computing Means Power
NSW has now become the dominant state in the display of results and formguides. It now hosts SA and while Queensland is a probable joiner in the future. The NSW system is by far the most cumbersome and annoying in the country, but its pages are very pretty. Do you know race videos are available only if you first register with , not if you are a casual member of the public? Does it need to be so hard? The Victorian data offering is far better, as are its videos, but it is now on its own.

However, there is still no form system available to the public. Breeding, yes, but form, no. Horses, yes, but greyhounds, no. Such a facility was first proposed in 1994 (by Victoria) but NSW quashed it because its clubs did not have powerful enough computers. They were the sort that had no hard disks so information had to go back and forth inside floppies, using snail mail. Remember floppies? Ah, those were the days. This article would just about fit on a floppy.

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