Warrnambool’s new track opened last night to much fanfare, but close analysis of the racing points toward the old adage – “the more things change, the more they stay the same“.
The old track was universally canned as a leaders track and one that caused undue interference in racing on the first corner. That interference had led to many greyhound injuries and more than the tracks fair share of euthanasia’s.
It also helped reinforce the tracks status as a leaders track, as high balling out in front was the best and safest place to be.
Warrnambool went out back in May 2008 for a complete redevelopment. Gone, would be the 332 metre start to be replaced by a 390 metre start and the track was widened and the straights lengthened and the whole circumference made more “oval”.
The whole redevelopment was based on the recently redeveloped Shepparton greyhound track and is another step in the GRV’s unofficial plan to make all “one turn” style tracks in Victoria exaclty the same, both in racing distances and in shape.
Racing resumed last night, and the results were interesting to say the least.
Despite the break and the several weeks of recent trialling and a “picnic” meeting, the new timing system failed to operate on at least half the races and on at least two races the backup timing failed as well.
The finish lynx timing system didn’t just have problems keeping pace with race times, it also managed to fail to capture every single race finish, with stewards being forced to rely on the their own observations when determining the placings and margins.
Eleven greyhounds required attendance by the vet on the night, with six found to have be injured in the run and one requiring euthanasia due to a hock fracture.
One greyhound was warned for failing to pursue the lure with due commitment.
And the cause of many of these injuries ?
Despite the complete track redevelopment, excessive interference is still occurring at a corresponding point on the first corner to where all the trouble used to occur on the old track. According to the stewards report, in all bar one race, greyhounds were found to suffer checks or interference either approaching the first turn or entering it. And a visual observation of all races confirms that interference and locates it to the same point on the corner on all races.
And what about the old problem of the early leaders winning almost all Warrnambool races?
In every race on the twelve race card, the greyhounds either first or second about 50 metres from the boxes won every race. In many cases the first two at that point were also the same two who finished first and second.
The bias was most demonstrated by Race 5 winner, Miss Elle Bush, who was seemingly under pressure and running awkwardly for the last 350 metres of the 450 metre race, but still was able to hang on to the win despite the best efforts of those behind her.
In many races, the first three or four through the home corner finished the race in that exact order, further underlining the difficulties greyhounds had in making ground from behind.
Australian Racing Greyhound.com will continue to monitor the situation at Warrnambool, but early observations would indicate there is much work to do if the track is to be considered anything but more of the same from the South West Victorian track.
There is no point recording the race times as yet as the timing mechanism was obviously not working properly last night, so we’ll update the unofficial track record holders and split sections next week, assuming everything is in working order on the night.
Ironically,the Warrnambool club ran an expensive advertising campaign throughout their racing on Sky Channel last night promoting their 2010 Warrnambool Classic. Let’s hope next week they redirect some of those marketing dollars back to the basics and get their new track and the racing working first; as last night’s racing wouldn’t have done much to encourage an owner or breeder to send their young pup to Warrnambool to race.