THE most interesting thing about Monday night’s cup meeting at Shepparton was that the second- and third-fastest runs of 25.17 and 25.15 were in Maiden and Grade 6/7 races respectively. Once A Drifter and Jodies Knee were the responsible dogs, so there is some promise for the future.
TAB turnover for the meeting was pretty terrible in NSW, but that is normal for a Monday night these days. It’s hard to do much with Win pools of $6000 or so when only half of that is visible before you have to bet. Sunday night’s final will not do a lot better because that’s a dead period, too. What a boon it would be for these events if governments could organise a national betting pool! The greyhound industry should be yelling from the rooftops to bring this about.
Although Shepparton fields were reasonable, it had competition from everywhere, including the Launceston Cup heats on the same night. Elsewhere, the Perth Cup and the Futurity and Derby in Sydney had already diverted many top-liners.
Where it comes out in the wash is in other provincial meetings. Horsham the next day, for example, offered only four races that seemed worth looking at but even those were full of pretty average dogs and short fields which produced a mixed bag of results. I saw no betting opportunities – it was for gamblers only.
Overall, Horsham has seen a marked decline in field standards in recent weeks. This week it managed only 11 races and six of those ran with empty boxes. On the same day Warragul had five short fields, Gosford six, Lismore five and Ipswich two.
It is a difficult task to space all these feature events as there are so many of them now. It is even harder to maintain standards and income when far too many races are short of starters anyway. The industry has overreached itself in an effort to satisfy the demands of TAB/SKY programmers. Tabcorp’s dabbling with more overseas events is not helping either.
Are stewards trying?
I despair that stewards will ever start to improve their observations and reports. Perhaps they don’t read these columns or maybe I am going blind in my old age. However, I had a check recently and everything seemed OK, bar the need for reading glasses.
Here’s a memo to the stewards: Remove all the bumps and the verbiage. The number of words don’t count. There are a thousand bumps every day in races across the country. It’s the nature of the beast with close-running dogs vying for a spot up front. What is interesting is when there are genuine major collisions and then which dogs are significantly checked back through the field – or check themselves. Even more important are examples of dogs which perform well above or below expectations, and what their trainers say about them. Stewards should also be able to comment on track features which contribute to interference and disruptions (but are they themselves trained to do that?).
The following are all a continuation of blatantly incorrect claims by stewards. Feel free to check the videos if you don’t agree (apparently stewards don’t do that). Here I have spread the load a bit by including some examples from Horsham.
Race 3, The Meadows, January 31
“Schumacher (5) and Girthy (6) collided soon after the start. Flash Zoe (3) and Dyna Brainiac (4) collided approaching the first turn checking Flash Zoe.”
The first “collision” was minor. The second never happened. Dyna Brainiac was always well clear of the other dog. The check to Flash Zoe occurred after passing the post and was caused by the red drifting out.
Race 4, The Meadows, January 31
“Tiggerlong Katut (6) and Pedro’s Twist collided (7) soon after the start. Renstar (5) and Angsana (9) collided approaching the first turn checking Angsana.”
Once again, the first “collision” was negligible. The second one never happened as Renstar was always well clear of Angsana.
Race 5, The Meadows, January 31
“Galahad (3) and Zell Bale (4) collided soon after the start. Hilda’s Boy (2), Galahad (3) and Zell Bale (4) collided approaching the first turn. Galahad, Zell Bale and Allen Eryk (5) collided approaching the first turn checking Zell Bale. Kid Maximus (1) galloped on the heels of Hilda’s Boy on the first turn checking Hilda’s Boy.”
This is a terrible fairy tale. There was some minor touching here and there but none of it was significant except for the last bit and there the steward’s comment is arguable. Kid Maximus did not appear to check off Hilda’s Boy – rather, as is its habit, Hilda’s Boy edged out on the turn, thereby interfering with Mepunga Moss (7). Kid Maximus therefore took the run up on the rails into second place.
Race 6, The Meadows, January 31
“Princess Pass (7) and Love Affair (8) collided soon after the start checking Love Affair.”
Never happened. Princess Pass jumped more quickly than Love Affair, which then headed for the rail to eventually win the race after passing tiring leaders.
Race 8, Shepparton, February 2
“Dyna Keitaro (7) crossed to the rail on the first turn checking Dawkins Bale (5), Zambora Magic (4) and Axis Bale (2).”
A typical example of exaggerated comment. Dyna Ketaro did cross and hold up Zambora Magic, However, the other two were not involved at all.
Race 4, Horsham, February 3
“Brazen Bull (8) crossed to the rail on the first turn checking Nice Meeting Ya (1), All Inn Black (4), Dyna Shinko (6), Bomber Osti (7), Stiff Arm (5) and Midnight Osti (2). Midnight Osti and All In Black collided approaching the home turn checking All Inn Black, severely checking Midnight Osti.”
Amazing that one dog checked six others. But it did not happen. Brazen Bull was moderately away, ran around the centre of the track to the lead and never touched or affected another dog. On the turn, All In Black ran on to the heels of Nice Meeting, which affected them and subsequently some other runners.
Race 5, Horsham, February 3
“Future Past (4), Old Jock (7) and Got Held Up (8) collided approaching the first turn checking Old Jock and Got Held Up. Dyna Revy (1) and China Rose (2) collided approaching the first turn.”
This is an extraordinary set of comments. If there were any “collisions” they were inconsequential and certainly did not affect Old Jock. Dyna Revy and China Rose were close early (where else would the 1 and 2 be?) but (a) there was no evidence of a “collision” and (b) by the time they approached the turn China Rose was way out in front. Generally speaking the race was fairly cleanly run except for a couple of dogs drifting off on the turn.
Race 7, Horsham, February 3
“Al Moran (1), Buckle In (3) and Danyo’s Slappy (6) collided on the first turn checking Al Moran, Lumpstar (2), Buckle In and Voight (7).”
“Collided” is a gross exaggeration. Buckle In was marginally affected by Danyo’s Slappy crossing in front of it but Al Moran was unable to match it with the speedsters at this stage (it was returning from a lengthy spell and is better off over a longer trip) and was therefore losing ground anyway. Lumpstar briefly ran into Al Moran but was not seriously affected. Voight was nowhere near any of these at any stage.
Race 8, Horsham, February 3
“Impact Bale and Billy Higgs collided soon after the start checking Billy Higgs. Sir Lenny and Impact Bale collided on the first turn checking Sir Lenny.”
Billy Higgs was vetted following the event and was re-vetted following Race 11. It was reported that the greyhound sustained soreness to the left wrist and left hind medial, a 10-day stand-down period was imposed”.
There is no evidence any of these “collisions” happened. The race was generally cleanly run. Billy Higgs is a talented but highly erratic performer so it is surprising stewards did not ask more questions following its poor display, especially as it was a $2.40/$2.60 favourite in a five-dog field. “Soreness”, right or wrong, is a pretty weak response to the way it ran.