Nothing much happened in WA as Mandurah’s 647m trip is really middle-distance only. SA had one very slowly run 731m race. Brisbane had nothing. Wentworth Park offered three fairly poor quality 720m races where nothing ran decent time.
To Melbourne, where most of the better action takes place. Or sometimes does. The Meadows’ now regular handicap race produced a $23 winner in slow time. Favourite Lithgow Panther led by half the length of the back straight but faded. Next, an average 42.96 win by favourite Dublin Bull followed (record 41.93), beating off a mostly ordinary bunch in a country-to-city final.
Sandown had added some bonus money to its “Special Event” on Thursday and so attracted the best of those available. Surprisingly, leading SA bitch Luna Jinx pulled out one of its best ever runs to win easily in 41.34 (record 41.17). Punters were not so happy as it started at $12, was handy all the way and won by six lengths.
The rest of them struggled, mostly because all but one had raced over the long trip only five days earlier at The Meadows. They included everyone’s best friend Sweet It Is ($1.40 in Vic) which ran to its usual pattern but seemed to have no zip left by the time the home turn arrived. Ditto or more so for multiple winners Shanlyn Lucy, Lady Toy and Dzeko, all of whom looked like they could use some time in the paddock.
A non-week, you could say. But that’s what happens when trainers flog their dogs to extremes. There should be a law against it.
And it’s “buyer beware” for anyone reading Victorian form guides. While handicap races are denoted “HCP” there is no indication of how much handicap was involved in each case so it is impossible to work out what they actually ran. Those times on the formline, in the sectional column and under “Best” should be disregarded.
More broadly, it is now an excellent time to review the staying caper. Are we going down the right track? Is distance racing a good thing? Simultaneously, the effort could embrace a study of breeding numbers and patterns, which would be a tremendous help to all the folk inquiring into that subject these days. So far, a long string of unsubstantiated claims have emerged from commentators in three states, all claiming there is “overbreeding”.
None of them have the slightest idea of what they are talking about and are simply making wild claims, perhaps for political reasons or, in the case of Greyhounds Australasia, effectively trying to destroy the industry. It is high time someone commissioned a decent study and so produced some real facts.
One key point which needs attention is to differentiate between bad breeding (which happens) and excessive breeding (if that exists). The same study might also glance across to other dog breeds, cats and horses in order to provide some perspective and to illustrate how the community sees these practices.
The word spreads, muck included
Paul Sheehan’s middle-of-the-road contributions in the Sydney Morning Herald are some of the few items I bother to read in that once intriguing but now leftist newspaper. So it was both interesting and disappointing to read about his poor regard for greyhounds. In an item devoted mostly to his non-meat-eating habits he ventured that “we can no longer avert our gaze from the realities of the greyhound racing industry. It is so weighed down by revelations of systematic animal cruelty, in addition to the corruption that has long been associated with the sport, that it will have trouble surviving.” (29 Oct).
All of which tells us a number of things.
First, while there is nothing wrong with being a vegetarian, being so does tend to put you into a minority category which prompts careful examination of thinking on other matters. It is a tag. Second, “animal cruelty” is quite correct although “systematic” is over the top. Fortunately, the offenders – a minority – have been well and truly sanctioned and will not be bothering us any more. So far, there is no indication that they were numerous, at least in respect to live baiting.
Third, where does the “corruption” accusation come from? It is hard to recall any evidence of that since the notorious Rodney Potter (NSW Chief Steward) saga of the 1990s, which ended up with a jail term. Drug use, yes, but that has been accompanied by equally strong sanctions from authorities. Every winner is swabbed, and others, too, as occurs in every sport these days.
Fourth, and most important, writers like Sheehan and many others are left free to make their own interpretations about greyhound racing behaviour due to what has always been an official vacuum, or close to it. Because there is no reference point, writers typically exaggerate the proportions, seldom make comparisons, and rarely have detailed knowledge. The industry has always done a terrible job of pushing its own wares. Especially those of the fine animal it looks after, as well as the majority of law-abiding participants.
Public relations is a vital part of any industry, yet is poorly served by industry bosses. That is because racing is run by bureaucracies, and is largely unaccountable.
Why do they bother?
Stewards Report, Race 1, Geelong, 30 October.
“Gotta Permit (7) crossed to the rail approaching the first turn checking Crazy Ice, Astrology, Happy Camper and Biscette, causing Crazy Ice to contact the running rail and fall as a result.”
Gotta Permit did no such thing. Nor did his co-leader, Cosmic Jam (8). They were miles in front of the pack, especially near the first turn. Collisions amongst that tardy pack were the reason for Crazy Ice falling.
But the main reason I draw attention to this modest maiden race is that the stewards also queried the trainer of Cosmic Jam about its improvement since running poorly in a solo trial at Gawler back in June. Hello! A maiden winner at its second public appearance improved from one race to another. Amazing! Is this to be another make-work feature of stewards’ reporting? Do they get paid by the word? I could imagine 100 such events each week could keep them busy. Perhaps 200?