The constant flow of good dogs from NSW and Queensland to points south of the Murray River has got all the attention over the last 15 years or so. Nothing those two states do seems to slow down this process. The attractions of more prizemoney, kinder grading and a bigger choice of suitable tracks are the big pullers. They certainly are for Australia’s biggest owner, Paul Wheeler.
But punting is a different subject. These days, you can bet on anything, anywhere, at any time, from wherever you sit. The choice is yours.
I choose Victoria. Not for the tracks. Not for the better dogs. And, certainly not for the cash in the pools; they are much of a muchness everywhere. The main reason, in fact virtually the only reason, is the information. Victoria offers much more information, more conveniently, and it is more accurate. It’s not quite perfect but it is near enough.
There are two key aspects of that information flow – formguides and results.
Leaving aside Queensland, where the local formguides are rudimentary at best, the comparison is between Victoria and the rest – ie NSW, SA, WA and Tasmania. Those four are now embroiled in the Ozchase system designed and operated by GRNSW.
Whatever other benefits the partners get from Ozchase, its three “formguides” are terrible. Here’s why.
The (F) option is not a formguide at all but simply a list of runners. Even so, it still takes one and a half pages to print out ten races. One page would have been enough.
The (W) option not a formguide either. It is a list of tips accompanied by a sectional map. That also takes a page and half to print out but don’t try to print it from you own program’s Print option as that will show only the left half of the page. Use the onscreen Print Meeting although that will still take up one and a half pages, usually with four races on one page and six on the other. As for the sectional map, forget it as it will only lead you astray. It does not assess most interstate runs, Tasmanian times are mostly lies (that state assigns the only sectional time to the winner in every race, regardless of what dog ran it) and NSW calculations are unreliable because many tracks record only the leader’s time, but you have to guess which dog was responsible. A particular problem is the shortage of times at the state’s two main one-turn tracks – Bulli and Maitland. It’s a hotchpotch.
The big one is option (E) – for “Expert”. It is a formguide, but it contains all of the problems with the (W) version as well as some of its own. Each race soaks up two and a half pages of paper and even then you will need a magnifying glass to read the formlines. In poor light it would be an impossible task. In an era when the average age is increasing (including those for trainers and punters) and reading capability is therefore falling, this is very poor planning.
The task of designing all these was outsourced to an alleged racing “expert” a few years ago, according to GRNSW. (From personal dialogues with those people, I can assure you they were not).
The NSW effort to publish race results is not a lot better. The screen will show you an attractive and colourful page for a given race so no problem so far. However, there is no option allowing you to Print the whole meeting, or even to show it all at once. If there was one, it would require many more forests to be cut down due to all the wasted space on the page.
If you try to Print directly from the screen, bad luck. You will get only two thirds of the page. As for a Download option – forget it, it does not exist. If you try to do it manually you will not be able to send it to one of the common programs such as MS Word – it will tell you “it does not compute”, or words to that effect.
Alternatively, you can download it to a basic text editor, which will lose all the formatting and, for reasons which escape me, GRNSW has another trick up its sleeve – it deletes all the box numbers on the way. Apparently, they want to keep them a secret.
As for a comma-delimited file, which many fans might like to allow them to insert the details into their own programs – nothing. That does not exist either.
By comparison, here is what Victoria offers.
Free and easy access to all local formguides via the Watchdog section. Just hit the button to download it or print it out. All races occupy only one page and the typeface is easy to read. If you wish, you can print some pages and ignore others.
Free and easy access to meeting results – the whole meeting on the same file – so you can print or download that, too, as you wish. There is a comma-delimited option as well.
A sister option also provides full colour presentation, together with videos and stewards reports, all on the same page. No need to go searching all over the website.
All Victorian races have complete sectional times for all runners (except, once again, for interstate runs).
The only drawback in Victoria is the misleading presentation of Handicap race times. There is insufficient distinction between them and normal races over the same nominal distances, so readers can get confused.
In other words, for Victorian races you just go bang, bang and it all happens easily. For the NSW coverage, which now involves four states with Queensland to come later, everything is hard work while presentation and usability are poor to non-existent. All four states were advised of these shortcomings before they signed up but chose to ignore the advice. So did GRNSW.
So, one Australian state offers good information which encourages fans to take part, the others put up a long string of obstacles to make life difficult. On balance, that cannot be good for the industry.
That’s why I favour Victorian racing.
Of course, many of these hassles are overcome by the subscription-only National Tabform formguide ($11 weekly), but not for NSW meetings.
Note: For our personal system we have been forced to develop our own means of producing formguides for those few non-Victorian occasions when we need them. The GRNSW-Ozchase system, which probably cost millions to implement, is just impossible to handle. The effectiveness of that project would make a good start for the proposed independent Integrity Auditor, as recommended by the recent parliamentary Inquiry.
CRIMINALS WIN, VICTIMS LOSE
It used to be the convention – if that is the right word – for stewards to accept that an injury was sufficient explanation for a dog’s misbehaviour (fighting, failure to chase, etc). Now a suspension or warning or satisfactory trial and so on get mentioned in the same breath. Is there a standard here? We are confused.
I am all for chucking out fighters but not this way. Anyway, on a related issue, if we are serious about this subject then surely it is time that greyhound racing rules were changed to require fighters to be disqualified and lose any prizemoney. Every other competition on this planet, including both the other two codes of racing, does exactly that. I have been proposing this for many years but everyone seems to ignore the need. It’s not a fair go, especially for the victims.