Out of the blue, a new distance has suddenly appeared at Bulli. I can’t find or recall any previous mention of this but the club (which means the GBOTA) now offers a 590m trip to go with 400m, 472m, 515m, 659m and almost any other distance you like because the club has a drop-in box facility which gets regular use for two of the above starts.
This time, however, the boxes are permanent, presumably costing many tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy and install. That might be OK for a rich state but the shortage of funds in NSW is already the source of much angst at headquarters, so that makes it a strange investment.
Is it necessary? Well, the history is that the original 604m start was dumped after a track rebuild, and replaced by the above 515m and 659m starts, which was fair enough. Those 604m boxes were the source of Paul Ambrosoli’s magnificent description that they used to come out “like a band of wild Indians”. True enough, they were terrible.
But now the 590m boxes have appeared in almost the same spot – to what end? Even now both 515m and 659m trips get very limited use, despite the fact that the 515m trip is one of the better runs in the state. Obviously we can expect that use to decrease even further as the demand will now be split amongst three distances, rather than just two. Is that worth spending a big pile of scarce cash for?
It is a reminder of some of the criticisms of GRNSW that emerged during the parliamentary Inquiry – that is, it is not just a matter of how you spend money, but also whether the investment returns a dividend.
It is even more galling that nothing has been spent on fixing the flat home turn at Bulli, which routinely sees dogs veering almost off the track proper – including during the inaugural 590m race – and thereby losing their places in the running order. Without doubt, it is the worst home turn in the country.
Stewards Reports Puzzling
Race 5, Sandown 1 January.
“Allen Malik (7) crossed to the rail on the first turn checking Eyeful Of Bling (1), Frank Furter (4) and Flame Bale (8), severely checking Hello Good Bye (5) and Zipping Ryan (6) which both raced wide as a result”.
It is hard to believe that anyone could write such rubbish as this. Allen Malik did no such thing. It never went near another dog and moved to the rail only when well around the turn. The worst of the ruckus occurred when Dark Jameson (3) moved to the right at the first turn, as is its habit, hitting Hello Good Bye, which then hit Flame Bale.
Eyeful of Bling had also moved off the rail passing the judge, possibly ankle-tapped by Sign of Snow (2), and then cannoned into the favourite Frank Furter. While all this was happening, Allen Malik was long gone.
Many of these problems are affected by the peculiar nature of Sandown’s turn, where some dogs unpredictably shift off the rail as they pass the post. I call this the “Sandown Two-Step” and it has been going on for 15 years. It is a design problem.
Four stewards were on duty for this meeting. Did none of them actually review the film?
Race 6, Sandown, 1 January.
“Bad Boy Sniper crossed to the rail soon after the start and collided with Senor Socks”. There was no “collision” – both headed for the rail after moderate jumps and there was little interaction.
“Senor Socks checked off Bad Boy Sniper approaching the first turn”. Perhaps, but Senor Socks often moves out in its races and certainly did so here, which is always a sensitive point at Sandown.
“High Class checked off Jubilea Bale approaching the third turn checking Bad Boy Sniper”. Yes, High Class was not neat in finding a way past Jubilea Bale – and never did. That had no effect whatever on Bad Boy Sniper which continued pressing on three off the fence to win the race.
What is hard to fathom is why stewards make up these stories when even a quick glance at the film reveals the lie. (I have been challenged that the steward behind the boxes actually has a better view of this sort of interference. This is completely illogical as (a) his view is partially blocked and (b) he has no perspective of the actual positions of runners).
Still on Sandown
Let’s not leave Sandown without recording the extraordinary performance by Sisco Rage in Race 3. Normally a good beginner, the dog fell out of the boxes, four or five lengths behind the next runner, and then proceed to rail up and up until winning by three lengths in a smart 29.61. Amazing!
But don’t try this at home.
New Year’s Celebrations
It seems that gamblers were still getting over festivities of the night before. Takings on the night of January 1 were, at best, half the usual size. That made it hard for Win punters but the exotics were also all over the place. Nights like this make you wish for a national pool.