Poor old Brendan Wheeler. Both his dogs, Desalle Bale and Barcia Bale, got squeezed out of the NSW National heat at Bulli. They jumped reasonably but Barcia Bale got shoved from 4th to 8th and Desalle Bale from a handy 2nd to 7th. Such is the nature of Bulli’s main turn - although middle boxes never help.
Either way, they would have been hard put to catch the NSW winner, Exclusive One, which will make a more than dangerous customer in the big one. It doesn’t always jump perfectly either, but it has a terrific record and the opportunities are easier to come by in Hobart where most dogs get a good look at the bunny in the back straight. Still, while the Victorian star Fabregas does not come out of box too smartly either, it does go very quickly after that.
On the other hand, Queensland champ Glen Gallon will need to be on his best box behaviour as it relies more on overall power than lightning starts. That will be a tough ask. Not often do dogs get run down in these top finals.
WE WILL TELL YOU WHAT’S GOOD FOR YOU
The new and quite appalling revamp of Tabcorp’s website is a classic illustration of what has been and still is holding back the growth of racing. It’s slower, more cumbersome and, most importantly, unsuited to many users’ needs. It is not kind to the gear they have at home.
Tabcorp flouted two basic principles. If it aint broke, don’t fix it. And if you want to make a change, first ask your customers and run tests. Neither occurred.
Around the nation, complaints are popping up on blogs and racing websites. Not a single commendation can be found.
I must admit to a personal bias. Having once had to instruct a web developer what I wanted to include on my own website, I know how hard it is to hold them in check. These 20-something year old whizz kids simply cannot resist adding frilly bits that achieve nothing. They insist of being more colourful. They add when addition is unnecessary. You have to beat them over the head with a baseball bat to stop them going off into the wild blue yonder. Or stop paying them – that works fairly well (but make sure you have given them written instructions first).
It’s likely that these people work next door to the folk who administer Tabcorp’s useless Duet bet program – the one that returns almost nothing but detracts from already underperforming Quinella and Exacta pools. (Tatts does it, too). Across the hall are blokes who keeping switching off live Quinella screens so they can tell you what a dead Double will pay, another disincentive to bet. In their spare time they design Quinella tickets which contain an error (the “Exacta only” box is misleading and has been ever since the job moved from Sydney to Melbourne a few years ago).
Two points of interest.
Generally, if you look at websites run by really big companies they are designed simply and concisely with a minimum of colour and definitely no flowery bits. And they aim them at folk with a medium range of computer skills and equipment at their disposal.
Second, way back when he ran Budget Rent-a-car, Bob Ansett had a rule that required all his senior people, including himself, to spend one day a month on the counter serving customers. Good move. Others have copied the practice. Perhaps a monopolist like Tabcorp should take note.
HOLES STILL APPEARING
Just to reinforce a point made previously in this column, we checked out 34 meetings in the three eastern states for the week commencing August 6.
29% of all boxes were empty. The worst experience was at Sandown (short in 8 of 12 races), followed by Bendigo, Bulli, Lismore and The Gardens with 6 or 7 short in a single meeting. None of those will help push exotic betting to greater heights.
And an ominous sign has appeared: Albion Park’s Monday meeting normally has two maidens and two novices. This week it increased to two maidens and three novices, none of which would be worth betting on unless you really had an inside run. And, no, it is unlikely that the running of the Young Guns at Ipswich the next day had any influence. They would mostly have been in a different grade.
It’s worth repeating. Too many races, not enough dogs and a continuing decline in average field quality.
Who will do something about this? We don’t care what the balance sheet is showing at the end of the year, we want to see decent races we can bet on. It’s that simple.