Here is one reason the industry gets into a pickle. If you check the results for Race 9 at Wentworth Park last Saturday you will see that an entire column of sectional times has been transferred from the “2nd Section” to the “1st Section” area, obviously all therefore showing silly times – 18.xx rather than 5.xx.
This is far from the first time such an error has occurred. What it means is that all future formguides or career statistics, whether published in Ozchase or anywhere else, will be also in error – for eight different dogs.
GBOTA is the club responsible for the initial error, of course, in transposing from one screen to another. OK, errors can happen but the bigger problem is that GRNSW (Ozchase) and GRV (Fast Track, the only other form producer), both have failed to install checking devices in their computer programs. Sensibly, a modest filter in those programs would stop wrong times entering the system and staying there for evermore. Normally, a minor program change would fix that.
Without being too dramatic, this is symptomatic of an industry which concentrates on process and forgets about outcomes. Or one that offers a prize to the club with the neatest figures, regardless of the integrity of the track the dogs run on. Or one which fudged euthanasia data and therefore ignored the need to correct possible causes of injuries (since fixed in NSW). Tabcorp and Ubet join the cause by publishing inflated dividends for First Fours when nobody has picked the winners – typically by quoting a “dividend” which is twice the total amount in the pool. And nobody – whether authority or betting operator – publishes the rapidly increasing amount bet on Fixed Odds at each race or meeting, thereby making a mockery of betting trends.
Just as bad are the quoted sectional times in all Tasmanian results. Invariably, the leader’s time is assigned to whatever dog won the race, irrespective of where it was at the early marker. Possibly a good half of them are wrong. Ozchase dutifully copies those errors as well. And there’s more. The local Tasmanian system has lots of sectional times rambling around its pages – far more numerous than those seen in the “official” Ozchase records – but they are extremely difficult to isolate because race films and race times are on different parts of its website. Not friendly for punters.
And here’s another screwy example. There was a feature distance race at Cannington over a year ago which started with only four runners. I think Sweet It Is won it. At the first turn one of those dogs fell but it dusted itself off and continued to chase the field, finishing 100-plus lengths behind. That dog was officially recorded as running 4th – monster margin and all – meaning it would not be included in the “fall” statistics but it would complete the running order to suit First Four backers. Its career history would be all the poorer for the “slow” run. How crazy can you get?
Who knows how many other faults lie in the national system but are not uncovered? No wonder poor old KPMG had trouble sorting out all the stats! It also gives the lie to the wildly inaccurate guestimates used by GA in its notorious “confidential” memo about breeding. They have since been repeated by dozens of media outlets across the country, by anti-racing organisations, and even quoted to the NSW Special Commission by GRNSW. These are called own goals, which we could do without.
Currently, the industry has a centralised system for recording breeding events, enabling it to publish the Stud Book. Hopefully, no-one would consider inserting the wrong sire or dam in that and so it works pretty well. You can also buy an updated copy every year. So why not set up a similar system for race performances?
It is not rocket science – the gallops have done it for yonks. They key is that it would be designed to satisfy the needs of users, particularly punters, who are now denied downloadable data for three quarters of the country’s races – ie those covered by OzChase.
On a related subject, let me again offer advice about “Run Home” times which appear on every semaphore board in the country. Statistically, they are completely useless. You will have no idea which dog was responsible for the time for two reasons – (1) you cannot be sure which dog was leading at the starting point involved, and (2) you will have no idea exactly where the earlier marker was located, thereby stopping you working out the first point. Consequently, tens of thousands of extra dollars spent on more expensive semaphore boards has been and is being wasted.
So, when or if the KPMG report ever emerges, take care. I do not expect it to contribute anything but confusion to the industry but if it uses crook figures it will not be worth opening.
Dogs doing their normal thing
I am not sure what to do with this comment and it is no more than an observation.
On Wednesday at The Meadows in Race 4 Azurite got 28 days for fighting (incorrectly termed “marring” in grey-speak). Quite correct, too, as it turned its head twice in the run to the winning post and the rules say you can’t do that.
But this was one of the muckiest races you might ever see, involving low quality dogs competing over a distance they could not really handle. The winner ran a pedestrian 44.15 for the 725m. The race featured continual push and shove as dogs went back and forth in the running order. The home turn was particularly messy as four dogs, including Azurite, strived to get to the bunny. Azurite, which had already been bumped a couple of times, had to push up between dogs but then was concerned that the dog on its outside was going to take its running once again and so reacted by giving it a nudge or two. It then continued on normally into the pen.
In other words, Azurite did what many dogs (or humans) would do when threatened – it defended its territory and its right to have a crack at the bunny. Wrongly, perhaps, but understandably.
The underlying issue is that we want keen, hard-chasing dogs in this business, not wimps. But when do a dog’s habits jump from being acceptable to illegal? Push and shove are routine parts of any race. And, of course, the hard chasing group is always more likely to become fighting offenders.
It suggests a review of the application of penalties for first offenders, especially when involving younger or less experienced dogs. Would a legal warning suffice?
Incidentally, in this particular example, no doubt the use of the wide, hooped lure would have created more space between runners, thereby removing the need for so much push and shove.