While there is unshakeable evidence that over-racing does not work out for stayers (see umpteen previous articles on this topic) we are now seeing readers point out that sprinters sometimes don’t back up very well either. Quite so, so let’s look at some hard facts.
To do that, I picked out the 10 sprint fields at The Meadows last Saturday and scanned their form – the last four runs in the GRV formguide – to see which of them had backed up within a 4-day period and how they did in the second race.
Amazingly, 32 of some 80 runners had done that (see list below). Of those, 19 fared worse while 13 improved. Then add to that the five dogs which had raced on the Wednesday or Thursday prior to the Saturday meeting at The Meadows. Three of those did worse, two did better. So in total, 22 did worse, 15 did better.
Bear in mind that this is just a quick survey, a pilot study if you like, and there will be many stories about hard luck, interference, different boxes and so on. So only broad conclusions can be reached and they then need checking.
Nevertheless, it is meaningful that, say, up to two thirds of the subject dogs had problems backing up while one third did not – apparently.
Anecdotally, this is consistent with numerous cases I see on a daily basis when doing the form at various meetings, doubly so for longer trips.
So, what can we conclude?
A prima facie cases exists that dogs cannot produce their best when backing up too quickly or too often over a period.
It is difficult or even impossible to determine in advance which dogs will suffer more than others.
The longer the trip the more likely it is to see form degradation.
It is likely that the lead-all-the-way winner will suffer more degradation than a runner which runs in the mid-field and then goes hard only in the last 100m or so.
Form variations as a consequence of over-racing are harmful to betting turnover, and to dogs.
The theme that “trainers know best” is a furphy and should be dismissed.
There is ample evidence that authorities should initiate in-depth studies to better explain the situation and adjust racing rules as necessary.
In relation to the last item, I find it concerning that such a vital part of the racing scene has received comparatively little attention from the veterinary sector. Sure, the symptoms sometimes get mentioned but the full package is not examined, nor are fresh policies recommended. Why so?
The dogs with short backups involved at The Meadows:
Why Not Sue
Pay the Boo
Straw Hat Luffy
What’s To Like
Ima Lonely Boy.
Other views plentiful
There is one reader’s comment about greyhounds that must be endorsed – “They aren’t robots they are individual athletes”. Exactly, as also are footballers, cricketers, tennis players, etc. But do we acknowledge that, or are we continually asking too much? Emphatically, the answers are no and yes, respectively.
The question arose of the Whittaker-Young Gun quinella at Wenty on Saturday night. OK, but that was not the real story of the race, of which more later.
Those two have been plying their trade over the 720m trip for several months now, but with limited success. Both have won a couple against usually ordinary opposition, although taking 12 and 16 attempts to do it, respectively. Whittaker, which showed lots of promise early on in its career, is pretty erratic, running times varying from 42.10 to 42.82. Six of Young Gun’s efforts have failed to break 43 seconds and last week’s 42.51 was one of its two best. Nothing to shout about there.
Yes, they have been racing very frequently but does that explain their ordinary performances? Probably, but we will never know. Either way, these are not backable commodities, not with win rates of that order. Arguably, any race won in 42.50 is a very risky betting proposition.
The real key to that Wenty race came from favourite Sandave Sapphire ($1.60) which ran a dismal 43.43 after a poor start and an indifferent run, finishing 6th in a field of seven. It did suffer a minor check at the first turn but that was largely its own fault. However, it did not look interested. Could that be an outcome of its previous race 7 days earlier when it scorched around the track in a PB of 41.84, which would comfortably win nine out of 10 top events? Was it used up – a gutbuster? Nothing more left? Almost certainly. That time was miles quicker than anything it had done previously so it must have drawn on reserves to do it.
Finally, the advice that “people back off trainers names as they know some are better conditioners then others” hits the mail on the head. Who says they “know”? Not the public, for sure – they would not have a clue. Even experienced punters would guess wrongly on that just as often as they guess right. In any case, there is massive evidence that the trainers themselves don’t know or, if they do, they are hoping against hope that luck will fall their way. Not good enough!
After all, several of our top trainers did not think they would be trapped with live baiting, did they? Many more did not see anything wrong with it. Others have been disqualified for months or years for repeated drug offences.