For many years now I have been a vocal advocate for our administrators to spend some of their sizeable funds in putting together a comprehensive and as accurate as possible record of the many greyhounds who have graced our tracks since the inception of mechanical hare racing in 1927.
My efforts have largely fallen on deaf ears, or, where they have been acknowledged, I have been met with the standard empty platitudes: ‘enthusiastically agreed…[but] not in a financial position…'
Maybe because I am not, and never have been, part of the ‘inner circle' of favoured media writers the very idea of my being permitted to undertake detailed research to improve and correctly log the records of our greatest greyhounds is viewed as a waste of precious resources.
I applaud the efforts of some State bodies and individuals (Neil Brown, Paul Munt and a few others) to bring our rich and vibrant history to a public that I am fairly sure does indeed have an interest in knowing about it. Nonetheless, the end result has been far less than it could be, given the amazing resources available.
I want to take a specific greyhound, namely Awesome Assassin, who retired just 12 years ago, to highlight the glaring inadequacies for those who might actually give a damn about preserving our history.
It is currently possible to build a download file on the racing record of Awesome Assassin from the GRV website. Despite my earlier comments, this site is extremely worthy, given that any greyhound which has raced over the past 20 years or so should have most or all of its race starts recorded and available for any interested person to peruse.
Sadly, those records are far from perfect, thus making the GRV site perfect as the first choice for obtaining racing information but with the rider that the form be seriously scrutinised.
According to the download file on Awesome Assassin, he raced 67 times for 33 wins, 12 seconds, and nine thirds.
We find he competed at Sandown Park over 515 metres just seven times, according to the form. On closer inspection, there are 12 races over 515 metres at a place described as ‘MEL', obviously short for Melbourne. Those races, of course, were also at Sandown Park.
Also in the download file, it looks as though Awesome Assassin notched nine consecutive wins between 20 April and 18 July 1998. One of these was over 710 metres in Brisbane on 4 June, downing Tonight's Wish by five and a half lengths just five days after breaking the 630 metres track record at Sale.
Having worked for the NSW-based DeFax Sporting Publications for a number of years I have a copy of their PDF of Awesome Assassin's record. It shows the black dog as having raced 66 times for 32 wins, 13 seconds, and eight thirds. That's a difference between it and the GRV website record of one less start, one extra win, one added second and one less third. The Brisbane 710-metre race does not appear in the stats.
DeFax worked closely in exchanging form and information with the Gold Guide in Victoria and a download file from the latter agrees with the DeFax statistics: that is, 66 starts for 32 wins, 13 seconds, eight thirds. At least, they are the figures you are left with once qualifying heats, solo trials and the like are removed. Both DeFax and the Gold Guide (on whose records the former's file would have been built) agree Awesome Assassin never raced in Brisbane, or over 710 metres, in his entire career.
According to my records, Tonight's Wish certainly raced over 710 metres in Brisbane on 4 June 1998 and finished second. She was beaten a head by a greyhound named Seafield Lass in a heat of the Albion Park Gold Cup. She went on to run third to Totally Ablaze in the final.
Going back to the track record run at Sale over 630 metres, the GRV website suggests Awesome Assassin exited box five while DeFax and the Gold Guide have him coming out of box one. This is not the only inconsistent box stat in the racing record.
Further comparison of the DeFax/Gold Guide record with that of the GRV reveals a total of five errors, just in the placings record alone. The rogue 710-metres Brisbane run has to be deleted. Then, the GRV has Awesome Assassin running second at Mel (Sandown) on 17 August 1998 (he was actually third); third at Sandown on 30 July 1998 (he was second); third at Traralgon on 24 July 1998 (he Won); and winning over 472 metres at Bulli on 20 May 1998 (he finished second to Tommie Streaker in the final of the Gold Plate, a race he had won in 1997).
I have made a point of noting the discrepancies between the various available records for this single greyhound not to embarrass the GRV or anyone else but merely to highlight the poor state our record keeping is in. It gets worse the further back into the timeless mists of history you travel.
For those only interested in finding the winner of race six on Saturday night at The Meadows, then all of the above is completely superfluous. For those who have a deeper interest in the history of our great sport, the fact there are so many mistakes in the racing record of a greyhound who was on the scene a mere dozen years ago and developed into a major sire merely highlights the flaws that need to be addressed in order to better preserve that history.