The biggest worry about the SKY v TVN saga is not that we don’t quite know when TVN will fold. The critical issue is how SKY (owned by Tabcorp) will react to demands from racing’s big shots to create a product similar to the one TVN had been offering. You can bet the pressure will be large.
What that involves is lengthy before and after commentaries and reviews of each race. Horses and jockeys would look impressive when parading. Many in-house tipsters would be involved, no doubt with different tips. Others will tell you how the horses look or have been running recently – something you could read about for yourself in the formguides.
They will probably drop fashions on the field, which would be no loss to punters but champagne sales may suffer. Even so, consider the big picture. SKY 1 and 2 are already jam-packed with races and will become more so as Tabcorp continues its relentless march into the international sphere. How can it fit more in? The only answer would be to relegate more trots and dogs to SKY2, or perhaps not cover some at all. In fact, in the past I have noted NSW Racing Radio omit coverage of a Victorian TAB meeting entirely.
The prospect of using SKY’s third channel, as some have suggested, is hardly practical. Many TAB outlets do not show it anyway. Some do not even have SKY2.
Either way, sound will be absent. People might have two ears but they cannot listen to two broadcasts at the same time.
Ideally, greyhound leaders should be shouting from the rooftops for improved service for the code. After all, greyhound racing is a huge benefit to Tabcorp because it offers far more meetings than the other two codes and therefore maintains continuity. It is racing’s version of Selleys “No More Gaps”. TABs like gamblers to keep turning over the cash.
Our national body, Greyhounds Australasia, would be no use as it does not address “commercial” matters. That leaves chiefs in the two largest states, NSW and Victoria, to lead the way. So far, we have heard only a deafening silence. If we can’t get into the debate, we will lose.
Can there be too much racing?
Last Thursday’s Sandown meeting may have created a modern-day record. All 12 races started with a full field. On the same night Albion Park had one short field, Dapto one and Angle Park four. On Friday night, Wentworth Park had vacancies in six races, while two were short on Saturday. The Meadows on Saturday ran with three short fields, but was a bit fortunate as 10 races had no reserves. It was helped by the inclusion of seven novice-class dogs (i.e., one win only) and many others with just two wins. Cannington had three short fields and finished with two 297m races.
Are we scheduling too many races? All across the nation, at least one in five races is short of starters. Squibs’ races are being squeezed into major city programs at Albion Park, Wentworth Park and Dapto as well as Cannington. Shorter events (400m or less) are dominating programs at provincial meetings but are unfortunately less predictable than longer trips. As there is no increase in the dog population, it indicates slower and weaker dogs are infiltrating what used to be better contests.
On the big night at Wentworth Park, Dyna Villa continued its excellent run in winning the Paws of Thunder. It was virtually unchallenged and ran nearly identical time to its heat.
The First Four on the big race pulled in $158k (presumably including some jackpots) which may also be some sort of record. That means more than 300 lucky punters took home $405.40 each on average.
Similarly, Space Star won well in the end despite a hold-up at the first turn in the Summer Distance Plate. It also recorded similar time to its heat run – 42.18 v 42.20. However, let’s hold back on the superlatives. The dog is capable of several lengths faster than that but had to beat only a modest collection of average or out-of-form stayers to get the cash. There have been many smarter runs over the past 12 months.
Besides, sometimes a hold-up during the race is not necessarily a bad thing. It might mean the dog does not use up all its power too early, thereby leaving a little left for the finish. The evidence suggests that may have been true here.
Typically, top staying races are won in 42 seconds or less, something Zipping Rory (eighth) and Pumped Up Zarr (fourth) have done previously. In fact, can I suggest to Peter Dapiran that Zipping Rory could well benefit from a month or so chasing butterflies in the paddock? If it doesn’t lead it doesn’t win, which was again the case this time.
Stewards’ reports – more of the usual
Race 6. The Meadows, January 17.
“Pyromania (8) crossed to the rail on the first turn checking Humming Birdhill (2).”
Never happened. There was no check, no contact. Humming Birdhill put in a poor effort after being a clear second early. It eased from the back straight onwards. Stewards did note the run but took no action other than to order a vet inspection (negative). That offered little consolation to punters who sent it out an even-money favourite.
In passing, Pyromania adds another element to our recent story about sectional times. Over its past nine runs (its whole career) the dog had a moderate average. However, its past three starts have been good, with the above race making four. Clearly, a change of form took place. It happens.
Race 8, The Meadows, January 17.
“White Spyro (7) and Bunga Bunga (8) collided soon after the start. Quantum Bale (5), Avondale Porche (6), White Spyro and Bunga Bunga collided soon after the start checking Avondale Porche, White Spyro and Bunga Bunga. Avondale Porche, White Spyro and Bunga Bunga collided several times approaching the first turn checking White Spyro and Bunga Bunga. Missile Flash (3) and Duomo Bale (4) collided on the first turn. White Spyro and Bunga Bunga collided on the first turn checking Bunga Bunga. Avondale Porche checked off Liara (1).”
All this verbiage may well be right but stewards should have nominated the prime cause of it all – Bunga Bunga smashed its way towards the rail after the jump, eliminating all chances for half the field, including the short-priced favourite. That was the real story – the only story, in fact – and it is important racing information. The rest is just wallpaper.