What was really remarkable about the distance heats at Sandown last Thursday was the amount of money invested on dogs with little or no long form. Amongst the favourite groups were Polijuice Potion, Dyna Maddie and Ernest Bale.
At the jump they were paying $3.50, $3.70 and $2.20 respectively.
All led up, or nearly so, but compounded in the home straight just as they have done previously. Their performances echoed those of many other dogs with some talent but no experience over the 700s. Almost always they cannot run out the trip, no matter how talented they are over shorter trips.
In distance races, never back dogs without good form over the trip, especially not those that fade.
However, it was a dramatic night for some. The stewards saw fit to ping Linco Bale for failing to chase, despite the fact that it ran down a fading leader and then won the race. You would need a good set of glasses to work out that Linco Bale fractionally turned its head as it was moving into the lead near the post. It had a very brief look at the other dog, without touching it or losing speed, and then powered on to win clearly.
The trainer objected, but to no avail. This is what is called black letter law in other circles – technically the case might be proven but the impact was miniscule. Was justice done? Hardly.
But here is why some stewards’ decisions and comments must be taken with a grain of salt. After Race 12 the stewards reported …
“Fleetwood Zac crossed to the rail approaching the first turn, checking Ripper, Lyka Allen and Boss Senor and severely checking Brakani, causing Johnny Mobster and Ripper to collide as a result”.
This is absolute rubbish. Fleetwood Zac (8) never touched another dog and was always well clear of the “severely” checked Brakani. There was considerable interference in the race, initially caused by the dog from box 6 pushing towards the rail, after which a chain reaction took place. While this was happening Fleetwood Zac had gone straight to a clear lead.
How is it possible to rely on the competence of stewards when this sort of thing goes on?
Will they really be fixing tracks?
As to the query about the GRNSW study into track design – expect news any moment. Apparently, a contract is in the mill.
The delay is understandable. After all, who would you expect to be competent to handle the myriad of technical skills required to handle such a complex subject? The interaction between dogs and all the bits and pieces that go to make up a racetrack will demand lengthy analysis and much testing of options.
And it has never been done before – here or overseas. Bits and pieces have been examined but not the full package.
Do you know Brazil has a start 20 boxes wide? Fortunately, it’s on a straight track. It’s got nothing to do with the subject but I just thought I should mention it.
Fixing the world – if possible
On the subject of industry studies, the KPMG investigation into factors causing “excessive breeding” and “unnecessary euthanasia” was due to report by the end of February but has not been published yet – if, indeed, it is finished.
Commissioned by Greyhounds Australasia, this exercise was aimed at producing a computer model which each state authority could plug into to determine how much breeding should take place. En route, it had to examine the flow of dogs from cradle to grave and match their numbers to the demand for efficient and effective racing.
This effort promises to add little to industry knowledge and – worse – to introduce Big Brother decision-making to a commercial industry where supply and demand should be paramount. It is poorly thought out and has already been overtaken by events. For example, new breeding rules will work at the margin by reducing the quantity of late-age whelps or progeny from low-standard sires.
In any event, neither “excessive breeding” or “unnecessary euthanasia” have been defined. Apart from the above points, there has been no evidence of overbreeding for the last decade or so. In reality, the reverse is true, with the result that far too many races are kicking off with empty boxes and far too many fields are of poor quality. Consequently, this program simply panders to media panic and half-baked, badly-researched reports from government-appointed investigators.
It also follows GA’s nonsensical “confidential” memo calling for Australian racing to be chopped by 40% via some magical cooperation between the states. Neither will happen, of course.
Notwithstanding that, you could expect KPMG to come up with results that broadly support the brief given to them. Typically, that is what high-priced consultants almost always do, and they are almost always wrong (as previously detailed in these pages). However, in this case, KPMG has no hope as the brief contained faulty assumptions and the data they will rely on is either wrong or incomplete.
What a terrible waste of money!