Remarkably, last Thursday’s SA Derby winner Ernie Bung Arrow, ran all over the shop but still managed a PB of 29.55 and the hard-railing Tonk was unable to catch it. Both were assisted by the middle trio – Kiss Me Ketut, Hawk Alone and Allen Makato – striking early trouble and recording slower sectional times than they were capable of. Local dog Kalden Gambino excelled himself by crossing the field from box 7 with a sectional of 4.46 and then running third.
However, punters using the SA formguide started off with a big disadvantage. Half the sectional times were missing.
That formguide, published now by GRNSW, ignored all sectional times run in Victoria and WA. That meant that of the last 40 runs by the eight dog field, only 19 times were included. The home states did record all these times but they failed to make it across into the oddball NSW system.
One outcome was that the GRNSW tipster showed Tonk, the favourite and eventual second placegetter, coming out well behind the rest of the field. That followed its ordinary jump in the heats. However, its career form in Victoria was much better than that so it was reasonable to expect it to improve in the final, having now had experience on the track and moving from box 6 to box 1. And so it turned out. It still did not jump as well as it might but ended up running 4.50, as opposed to the 4.69 it ran in the heat while SA star Ernie Bung Arrow darted out in its usual smart fashion in 4.37. The SA dog now has an extraordinary 13 wins and one 2nd from 14 starts, which is approaching Miata standards. (Our records show one more run/win than published by GRNSW, something I have cross-checked elsewhere).
The GRNSW suggested price of $4.00 for Tonk was therefore well over its true odds. It actually started at $2.50 in NSW, which probably went too far the other way. But that’s what happens on the tote with good dogs in the rails box.
This continues the amateurish approach by GRNSW to form presentation. The frequent shortage of sectional times from provincial tracks and the omission of interstate times can turn good punting into guesswork, even for its own tipsters.
However, it also points up the lack of coordination amongst Australian racing authorities. The absence of national leadership leaves a yawning gap in the industry’s public profile, and also in the way it operates.
It’s now 19 years since I started campaigning for the establishment of a national form database, similar to the stud database run by Greyhounds Australasia. Victoria was of a like mind at the time and put up a formal proposal to GAL (which was then ANZGA). The idea was that not only would it offer a single reliable source for all concerned, including punters, but it would also save heaps of money because authorities would not have to duplicate work already done by clubs and interstate authorities.
The mind boggles at the benefits that would have offered the industry over those 19 years. We are talking millions of dollars here, all thrown down the drain because of petty rivalries and sheer incompetence.
The proposal got knocked on the head by none other than the NSW GRA, the GRNSW predecessor, which said it would be too much trouble for all its clubs because their computers were all running on floppy disks (remember them?). I think they were Commodore models built before the days of hard disks. I was tempted to offer to buy each of them a new computer.
In all that time, we still have not managed to build a credible and accessible national system. Even the current tri-state operation under the GRNSW banner (soon to be five-state) has not been able to develop a reliable output, nor one which people can use in a friendly or efficient manner.
It is not rocket science. Currently, National Tabform, a Melbourne-based family organisation, manages to do a thorough nationwide job, including a supply of all the information missing from the GRNSW model, and some more besides. You have to pay a monthly subscription but the service is there. Otherwise, Victorian and WA authorities provide very respectable free formguides for their local meetings, albeit usually missing many of those elusive interstate sectional times. Tasmanian and Queensland local guides prepared by their authorities are third rate by comparison but have now been superseded by the GRNSW version, or soon will be.
Let’s hope it will not be another 19 years before we get professionally produced greyhound form.
Meantime, we can record that last Friday that sectional offender Casino, or GRNSW, or both, re-started their previous practice of publishing sectional times for 411m events. We still have to guess what dog ran them but the times are there. May others follow! And may they then eventually start providing them for all runners, not just the leader, as occurs in Victoria.
TRACK QUERIES PERSIST
Our updated survey of falls and interference shows some tracks are still not doing well while some others have worsened.
Nationally, 5.3% of races involve a fall. Trips which are at the nasty end – say 9% to 12% – include Ballarat 390m, Bathurst 307m, 450m, 520m, Casino 411m, 484m, Cranbourne 311m, Horsham 410m, Nowra 520m, Sandown 515m, Shepparton 390m, Traralgon 298m, Warrnambool 390m and Warragul 400m. Note the heavy presence of short trips with starts which are close to the nearby bend. Six of these are newly constructed tracks which suggests authorities are not paying enough attention to the “unintended consequences” of their work.
Some longer trips are also posing hassles. The new 650m/660m bracket in Victoria – at Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton and Warrnambool, as well as Richmond 618m and Casino 620m in NSW – all reveal very high proportions (over 60%) of races where 20+ lengths margins are recorded. These are all awkward bend starts where the field is quickly chopped in half as they round the first corner. The national average is 28.3%.
Richmond 535m is also poor in this respect but that is undoubtedly due to runners failing to hold the flat first turn and then causing disruptions to others. The same could be said of Dapto 515m. Both tracks have been re-built at least once yet the old faults were repeated.
On the plus side, Hobart, Devonport, Mandurah and Northam continue to perform well. So does the re-built Healesville straight track, with a new lure and a loam surface. It replaced an aging grass track where runners regularly crashed over from the outside. Somebody found the secret there.
Those better results give the lie to claims that dogs themselves cause all the problems. Well, some may do, but most of the hassles are due to how man laid out the tracks.
Anyone interested in the details of our Interference Survey is welcome to click here to see it: Greyhound Track Statistics
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Sad to see that GWA CEO David Simonette has retired due to ill health and a search is on for a replacement. David was always helpful and communicative. Best of luck to him for the future.
Meantime, work is under way on detailed planning for a new Cannington track, due to open in 2015. It will need some government financing which maybe a problem as, like in Queensland. the Premier is currently busy telling the world the once flourishing state is now short of money.