EASILY the best run of the night at The Meadows big meeting last Saturday came from Star Recall in the Group 1 Australian Stayers Cup (725m). It was not particularly fast – a couple of lengths slower than in its heat – but it was a terrific performance to turn up and win just seven days after a “gut busting” win in its heat. Few stayers can do that but it managed to hold on in front of the fast-finishing Esparza, which has been showing improved form.
For a rising four-year-old bitch in its first distance series that is marvellous stuff. In fact, I doubt there is another racer that has done that – ever.
Not so great was an indifferent run from early favourite No Donuts which began moderately and finished worse. Two runs in successive weeks was clearly too much for it. It did have a slight bump early but did little thereafter and went backward once it reached the home turn. I also note that it weighed in heavier than at its previous few runs.
Previously, I have suggested No Donuts was not a true stayer and that proved to be the case here. Certainly it has done well on occasions, notably when running 41.97 at Wentworth Park in January. But top middle distance dogs quite often do that yet fail to repeat the effort later – Zipping Maggie, Irma Bale and Xylia Allen are examples but there are many others. Basic ability and the ability to recover are two different things.
Dyna Double One’s win in the Australian Cup was meritorious but not spectacular. I suggested earlier it had no hope of leading this field and would be dependent on luck at the first turn. It got that, although its close neighbour, Xtreme Knocka, did not and was splattered all over the track.
That interference was mainly a result of the shape of the circuit which encourages runners to compress towards the inside on the first turn. Interestingly, DD1’s best run at The Meadows (29.43) came when inside dogs packed up and it roared around the outside from box 8. That is seldom an easy task at this track but DD1 got away well and had clear sailing all the way on that occasion.
Who writes the racing rules
One of the lowlights of the Australian Cup meeting at The Meadows on Saturday was this example of bureaucracy gone mad from the Victorian stewards. It concerned Race 11 where Liam was the $3.40 favourite. The stewards’ report read:
“Liam was vetted following the event and was revetted following Race 12. It was reported that the greyhound sustained an injury to the right triangle muscle, a 7 day stand down period was imposed. Stewards spoke to Mr D. Burnett, Trainer of Liam. Acting under GAR 69(B)(1), the Stewards charged Liam with failing to pursue the lure with due commitment (by reason of injury). Mr Burnett pleaded not guilty to the charge. Liam was found guilty and Stewards directed that the greyhound perform a Satisfactory Trial, All Tracks, pursuant to GAR 69(B)(1)(a), before any future nomination will be accepted”.
Consider the facts – much of which apparently escaped the notice of the stewards.
1. The vet found the dog to be injured.
2. It led early but was soon overtaken by the eventual winner – possibly when the injury occurred.
3. It finished off the race fairly well in second spot, although some four lengths behind the winner.
4. Liam ran 30.24, which was faster than at any of its previous six starts, including a winning run at this track in 30.25. The time also bettered that of five other winners on the night.
5. It has won or placed at 44 of its 54 starts – an unusually consistent record.
6. It customary racing pattern is to get away well but perhaps fade a little in the last 50m.
7. The race winner, Waymores Blues, is quite a strong dog and ran 29.94, easily its best time at The Meadows and far quicker than anything Liam could do.
Liam’s last seven runs were at Sandown and The Meadows and involved one win, three seconds, two thirds and a fourth. Its times (corrected to MEA equivalents) were 30.25, 30.34, 30.72, 30.46, 30.75, 30.26, 30.24.
From all that information, and from race observations, there is not the slightest evidence that it failed “to pursue the lure with due commitment” on Saturday night. It did what it always does, notwithstanding the injury.
What we now have is stewards incorrectly applying a rule which is of dubious value anyway. What is gained by enforcing a Stewards Trial on a dog that has been found to be injured? It is a dumb rule. This is done only selectively in respect to dogs which are also deemed to be “failing to chase”. Why lump them in with dogs that really don’t chase? Why are all injured dogs not forced to run a Stewards Trial? All it does is add to paperwork and the future workload of stewards and trainers. To rub salt into the wound, stewards frequently don’t pick up a number of FTC performances at all, never mind the injured ones.
However the most important thing is that the stewards’ form assessments are faulty. Particularly so in this case. The trainer pleading not guilty was right; the stewards were wrong. Badly wrong.
Incidentally, there were at least three other examples on the night where a runner led easily and faded in the home straight, all running slower times than Liam. No injuries, no queries. It happens.
But the biggest “error” was in one of the big races of the night. No Donuts, a hot second favourite in the stayers final, got away only moderately and did meet with a slight check early – one which cost it very little. But it started going backwards from the home turn and could manage only 6th in 42.92 or seven lengths worse than in its heat.
Thousands of punters might have asked why yet stewards made no mention of the run. Why not? The performance was infinitely worse than Liam’s.
Note that I don’t blame the dog – it was obviously a victim of the seven day backup syndrome.