Following a huge public reaction from Bruce Teague’s column ‘Questions need to be asked regarding Cup favourite’s performance‘, Swain was contacted by Australian Racing Greyhound to explain the topic from a trainer’s point of view.
Swain says numerous factors affect how greyhounds run out the staying trip, but says it is unfair to make a generalised statement that most dogs cannot back up without considering the different reasons behind their performances.
“You can’t make a general statement to say that all stayers can’t back up,” Swain said.
“It has to do with the trainer and the dog that he is training.”
Swain explained no two dogs are the same and there is a difference between a true stayer and one which does not run a strong 700. He says one of the most important things is for the trainer to learn the difference in order to prepare their dog correctly for race day.
“A lot of it depends on the training of the dog and the fitness levels they have going into the race,” he said.
“The trainer must blame himself if the dog gets beaten – for example straight after a hard run you need to be very quiet with the dog to allow their energy levels and muscles to get back to normal.
“When the muscles come under extreme exercise early in a preparation they need time to recover.
“It’s got nothing to do with the dog not backing up – but the trainer has to know what to do with the dog to help it recover.
“If a dog needs two weeks off between runs then you are looking at a dog which is not strong enough to run out the trip.
“A super fit dog should replenish its energy levels within 48 hours and they will usually hold up within themselves for around 10 to 12 starts at a time before they need a bit of a break.
“So if you have got the preparation of the dog right then they don’t need two weeks off – if the preparation is right, the dog will race well.”
Swain said it was also very hard for front running stayers to win coming from behind, but says that a poor start doesn’t mean they have not backed up.
“Front running stayers need to get to the lead straight away and break them up – if they jump on the bunny they will break the field right up and then the last fifty or sixty metres he will get tired but still win,” he said.
“When they miss the start and they have got to use themselves up early they weaken a lot sooner and they can’t go on with it.
“I had a good dog years ago that won eight staying races at Wentworth Park and broke the track record there.
“His name was Let’s Be Frank and he was another front runner – he had to lead and if he didn’t find the front quickly it wasn’t that he couldn’t back up or that he didn’t chase – it was that he couldn’t get into the race and win.”
Swain believes this may have been the case for No Donuts which started the favourite in last Thursday’s Group 1 Sandown Cup, but was never in contention after a poor beginning.
“No Donuts is a wonderful front running stayer – but he missed the kick – that made it very hard for him,” he said.
“Anthony (Azzopardi) is a good young trainer and I believe he prepared that dog perfectly for that race at Sandown, but the dog was never going to be a good thing in the final if he missed the kick.
“He isn’t the type of dog to come from behind. It is easy to sit back and say that he never backed up, but the fact is No Donuts probably did back up – it’s just that the week before he came out like a rocket.
“Once you are in a good quality race against other dogs which can stay and you have gone 200 metres and you are running sixth you don’t have much chance when you need to be in front and breaking them up in the middle stages.”