However, I think these miss the main point. I suppose you can always make a case for any of the 12 different grades or classes identified in my previous article. But the more important issue what happens to the big package? How does it all fit together and how does it benefit racing as a whole.
Remember, whether T3 or anything else, there are unintended consequences.
First, Victoria now has a massive bias in favour of low quality racing. Only 13% of all races in the subject period catered for higher grades (ie above 5th).
Second, while a few T3 competitors win through and move upwards the majority do not. At best, they are destined to continue in T3 or Maiden classes and therefore present near impossible outcomes for punters.
Third, for a variety of reasons, many such dogs end up trying graded races, thereby lowering field standards and making exotic betting riskier.
Fourth, Victoria now has nine different official grades of races but three of those are little used – 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Why so?
In other words, when you add in Non Penalty, Restricted Win and similar races, or multiple opportunities to win 5th Grades, it presents a picture of a deliberate attempt to cater for lesser performers rather than good ones. Or probably more accurately, to cater for trainers of such dogs. It is the opposite of seeking excellence.
Simultaneously, catering for poor performers tends to turn off customers. Mug gamblers will not know or care but serious punters will and they have been in decline for some years now, thereby posing a risk to the code’s long term future.
In total, the effort to cater for slow dogs has pandered to perceived welfare demands and to the narrow interests of some trainers at the expense of gaining more customers. Yet rewards to trainers can improve only when there are more and better customers. T3 will never achieve that. So why not make better use of Grades 6 and 7, which themselves are newcomers to the scene?
Incidentally, the addition of all the extra classifications has added squillions to the cost of administering racing, largely because of increasingly complex computer systems and the staff to maintain them. Yet such investments have returned no real dividends, just as bonuses for breeding and distance racing have had no discernible effect on quality or performances.
There is an inbuilt reason for this. State administrations are not genuinely accountable for what they do, especially financially. They simply whip cash out of the kitty and spend it. Annual reports and five year plans tell us what wonderful ideas they are but never is any proof offered that the code advanced or that the moves were profitable. You just have to take their word for it.
The case of the disappearing time
I wonder if stewards picked this up. On Thursday night Major Jackpot, a record holder over the shorter Lismore 420m, tried to repeat his brilliant heat 29.12 run in the Launching Pad series at Sandown. Bookies were trembling as the dog had been specked at 100/1 for the final and box 2 would be helpful.
Well, the worst happened (for the bookies). The dog speared out and led by some lengths down the back straight. But by the home turn arrived, things had changed. Buck Forty moved up on the inside and ran away with the top prize. Major Jackpot faded.
Why so? Select one of these options.
(a) It was not feeling good on the day. (Unlikely due to its sparkling first half)
(b) It carried a niggling injury into the race. (Also unlikely – see above)
(c) It ran a “gut buster” in the heat and did not properly refill the tank.
The evidence supports (c). The dog ran 29.12 in the heat but only 29.57 in the final – a six and a half lengths difference. On its own and untouched at any stage in both races.
So, while repeats of fast times are hard to find in distance races, the syndrome can apparently affect dogs over shorter trips. It probably depends on the dog.
And, no, the stewards did not pick this up even though the dog was a $2.20 favourite and many less obvious cases have been targeted by stewards. A comparison of blood counts would have been interesting.
While we are at it, here are time comparisons between March 19 and March 26 for stayers racing over the same distance and backing up within seven days at The Meadows and Wentworth Park (Association Cup final).
- Mademoiselle Sox – + 4 lengths
- Tricky Mover – Same
- Minnesota Nice – + 2 lengths
- By The Gallon – – 3 lengths
- Lioness Lulu – + 2 lengths
- Whittaker – + 4 lengths
- Phantom Reign – + 3 lengths
- Rynos Raider – + 4 lengths
- Serene Nimbus – + 10 lengths
- Dublin Bull – +12 lengths
- Come On Fantasy – + 17 lengths
(Others had raced over shorter trips on March 19)
Some might argue that the last two met with some interference at the first turn. True, but it was not life threatening and it arose because both jumped poorly in contrast to their heat performances. Thereafter, they displayed no interest in further racing and just plodded around at the end of the field.
This is just the most recent in a long line of evidence that dogs are generally not able to repeat 700m times within a seven days period. The odd exception proves the rule – although you may not be able to predict which one it will be.