More Than Flash
Written By Bruce Teague Thursday 16th February 2012
Everybody in greyhounds knows it – breeders, trainers, genuine punters, even stewards. Hard chasing has to be the top of the list of critical characteristics for a successful greyhound. Only then is it worthwhile seeing if the dog is fast. Get both and you are on your way.
A stark reminder of these qualities came when reading an item by David Brasch in greyhoundqldmagazine.com. In part it read:
“(Lee) took Flash Hero to Casino for a trial one Monday morning in September last year and while hosing him down, Flash Hero broke free and did two extra laps of the track. The next day he had severe acidosis.
"He spent ages in the vet surgery and at one time his kidneys shut down and we never thought he would get back to the track," said Lee. "I suppose it was more an experiment by the vet clinic to see if they could save him."
Happily, it ended well. Flash Hero came back five months later to win at Tweed Heads. And a third soon after at Lismore. A great effort - tears and smiles all round.
But how keen was that dog? It reminds you of those terrible few days in 2002 when Boomeroo was on a drip, also suffering badly from acidosis, after drawing on all its reserves to win the National Distance Championship at Albion Park. They were not sure if it would pull through. It did, but was never the same again as a race dog, as often happens after great trauma.
In the same vein, thankfully those periodic 800m-900m marathon races also seem to be a thing of the past. Extensive analysis of post-race careers showed that 90% of those competitors never regained their previous form levels. They tried but they were drained. Never, ever, bring back marathons, even as a specialty item (with apologies to Dancers Reward, which loved them, but she was a freak).
Anyway, while greyhound people are aware of the importance of the chasing gene – still maintained after 6,000 years or so – how many of the public would know much about it? Or about the purity of the breed, which is becoming rare in other dogs as owners are forever dreaming up new crosses (and often creating genetic problems, it seems). Very few, I suspect. But why don’t they?
A problem is that the anti-racing lobbies are always keen to claim that dogs or horses are forced/drugged/whipped to race, often in dubious circumstances. Admittedly, that push occurs more often overseas than here but these things have a way of spreading if you don’t watch it.
Coupled with the need to wear muzzles, and its origins in live hare coursing, it puts greyhound racing behind the eight ball to start with. It is why greyhounds make the headlines only when something nasty happens, not when a brilliant performance occurs. Yet it is obvious that horses enjoy a run – sitting on a horse at full gallop is a wonderful experience, like driving a Roller after getting out of a jeep. And they barely have to be asked. Equally, greyhounds just do what comes naturally. They need no further prompting (well, most don’t). This quote sums it up:
“Man runs to beat time.
Horses are urged to run.
Greyhounds are born to run”.
No idea where that came from but the NSW GBOTA once put it on a poster. Maybe industry publicists should put it on everything they produce? What’s in the greyhound DNA might then filter through to the mind of the man in the street or, more importantly, the woman in the street.
It’s no good hoping they will wake up. Education is the only solution.
A final suggestion. AGRA, which has a Run of the Month award, is prone to select a dog which has flashed home after being tardy early, running only moderate time and often beating moderate dogs. That old teaser Elektra was a prime example, Heston Bale a recent one. These awards mean little and end up as fish and chips wrappers. No-one remembers them. Instead, why not promote a “Hardest Chaser of the Month” prize and put some heavy publicity into it? There would usually be a good story behind it anyway – Flash Hero, for example.
Is Racing Just A Local Pastime
The all-conquering Radley Bale comfortably picked up the Launceston Cup and the $40,000 prize in a smart 29.60 last Monday night (record 29.43 – Damek, which goes much better when it is breathing Tasmanian air, but failed in the Cup heats and has subsequently been retired). That information was posted on the internet by the GRV system. Something ran a 4.98 first section but the results page does not tell us which dog it was, nor were there any running numbers to guide us. It is therefore useless information.
The local Tasmanian authorities do not post results now (the Hobart club did once). Even if they did, judging by the formguides they produce locally they would not contain much anyway. No sectional times at all, no running numbers, and interstate form is ignored – for example, the local Devonport racebook this week says that the well-travelled Decembrist has only Tasmanian form. Hardly.
The DIER (the government racing authority) website home page has a menu item titled “Trial and Race Results” but there is nothing there, not even a referral to GRV. However, if you get into the greyhound section on another page you might find an item for Results, which will then turn up the Tasmanian results in GRV format. Hard work to get there, though.
The bigger worry was that on the NSW Win tote the Cup pulled in only $7450. Eight of the other nine races did better, including the Consolation with $10,817, won by local star Rewind. These are bush-level pools, not those you would expect for one of the top Group 2 events on the calendar. Obviously, mug gamblers dominated the scene. Supertab punters (which includes Tasmanians) were a little keener - $21,045 on the Cup – but a couple of other races did nearly as well so it was hardly a standout.
Did they forget to tell the world about one of Tasmania’s two biggest events?
The state government runs racing in the Apple Isle but surely someone can do better than that.
Note: Tasmania is said to be moving into the WA-based Ozchase computer system later in the year. Let’s hope that at least improves the quality of race results. But that still leaves us short of decent punters.