The 2013 Group Two Ballarat Cup was a sensational race between two of the best horseshoe sprinters we have seen, but the previous weeks heats are full of controversy. The first of the cup heats was “officially” won in the speedy time of 25.346 by promising young dog Deadly Vane, and that is the race in question.
Put simply, the time was wrong. Not by a length, not by half a length, but by a hectare. In reality, Deadly Vane crossed the line in a sensational 25.09, making him the fastest heat winner.
On a night where there were seven heats run, the fastest second placegetter qualified for the final. This meant the timing error had huge ramifications for connections of Ferly Reign who was “officially” given the time of 25.48. However Ferly Reign actually ran close to 25.19 and was in reality the fastest second placegetter, and worthy of his place in the final.
spoke with Anthony Azzopardi, the trainer of Ferly Reign.
“I knew as soon as the race was over there was a problem with the time. Ferly Reign is a consistent 5.30 dog at Wentworth Park and there is no way they could’ve run that slow to the first mark in the heat. I said to the steward straight after the race there was an issue with the time. I was in the wash bay and after the race the steward was waiting to do the swabs, and I said you better have a look at that, there’s no way they’ve gone that time. There was no reaction, like water off a ducks back and I didn’t want to create waves, so didn’t say anything further that night.â
“I spoke with some professional punters and Joe Borg who had the winner, and we all agreed the time was wrong. The pro punters put their time on the race and all five of them said my dog ran 25.18-25.19.”
Anthony then decided the best course of action was to phone the GRV to speak with chief steward Glenn Fish to take his concerns further.
“I rang Glenn Fish on Friday morning and he was unavailable, but he did ring back in the afternoon. I said that I didn’t want to make waves, but there is an issue with the time on the race and my dog should be the fastest second and in the final. He said, he was bound by the Finish Lynx time and would not even consider reviewing the race further. As far as he was concerned whatever time the Finish Lynx gave is the time the race would be recorded as.â
“It’s ridiculous, if the time was a length or two here or there, you know, you could live with that. But this is five length difference on the winners time, and my dog is easily the fastest second and into the final.”
“What really annoyed me was that Glenn Fish didn’t give me the impression he thought it was a big issue. What about the punters? How much would the betting have changed if the public were aware Deadly Vane was the fastest qualifier?”
“Never mind their duty of care to owners and trainers in this case, but what about their betting partners? They knew the times were wrong and did nothing to alert the public or the TAB who were betting on the race.”
“Now I’m not saying we could’ve won, but my dog has enough early pace to have changed the way the final was run. Probably we don’t win…..we’d have been running for third, but with Ferly Reign’s early pace and the way he doesn’t leave the rail; if we’d have drawn inside, the race would’ve been different, that’s all I’m saying.”
contacted the Racing Integrity Office and spoke to Sal Perna, who informed us that this situation, âdidnât qualify as an integrity issue and fall within his jurisdiction.â For all the advances that have been made in Victoria with the Integrity Commissioner, it is simply an amazing situation that something that directly affected betting markets and should have been made public knowledge, but was kept quiet; doesnât qualify as an integrity issue and fall within the scope of the Racing Integrity Commissioner. The public have been misled by a government department, and remarkably that does not qualify as an integrity issue.
Mr Perna went further in his explanation, âIf it is related to raceday operation, our office has no jurisdiction. We deal with issues relating to crime and corruption. Even if we received a complaint, there is nothing we can do. We are independent, and itâs a very specific role.â
We next contacted the Integrity Manager at theVictoria (GRV), Brian Williams, and CEO Adam Wallish, who had nothing to add but were both aware of the issue.
The video below says it all.
2013 Ballarat Cup Heat 1 Time Fiasco
Following an incident at the Saleon Sunday, 1 September 2013, the Stewards of Victoria conducted an investigation.
During the investigation, Stewards heard evidence from Ms. Rosalie Van Vaught (Spectator), Mr. William Kenney (Registered Trainer), Ms. Christine Gent (GRV Cadet Steward) and Mr. William McMahon (Registered Trainer).
After considering the evidence, Stewards charged Mr. William McMahon with a breach of GAR86 (f) (i) which provides that a person engages in, publishes or causes to be published, broadcasts or causes to be broadcast, the use of any contemptuous, unseemly, improper, insulting, or offensive language, conduct or behaviour in any manner of form towards, or in relation to a Steward.
Under Rule 47.1 of theVictoria Local Rules, a breach of GAR86 (f) constitutes a Serious Offence. As a result, on Tuesday, 3 December 2013 this matter was heard before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in the first instance under Victoria Local Rule 47.3 and Sections 83C(b) and 83M of the Racing Act.
Mr. William McMahon represented himself.
Mr. Andrew Mills (GRV Deputy Chief Steward) represented the Stewards Panel.
Mr. William McMahon pleaded guilty to the charge.
After hearing all the evidence tendered including further oral evidence given by Steward Ms. Christine Gent, the RADB determined that Mr. William McMahon was guilty as charged.
Mr. McMahon also lodged an appeal against the severity of the penalty of 2 months suspension handed down by the Stewards on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 in that he did engage in conduct which was detrimental to the image and promotion ofin the vicinity of the parade yard at Sale Club on 1 September 2013 in breach of GAR 86(q).
As the offences under GAR 86(f) and 86(q) both related to from Mr McMahon’s conduct arising from similar circumstances at the same meeting, and after considering submissions from Mr Mills and Mr McMahon, the RADB invited further submissions from the parties in respect of penalties for both offences. The RADB determined that 2 months suspension was the appropriate penalty for Mr McMahon for both matters, to be served concurrently, and effective from Monday 9 December 2013.
Tonightâs Group Two Mega Merch Ballarat Cup was an absorbing duel between two of the best horseshoe dogâs of the modern era, with the Jason Thompson trained Ronan Izmir rallying to beat Paw Licking in a classic race. Making the victory even more special for the winning connections was the $50,000 GRV Country Cupâs Bonus for winning three country cups in the one year. Meaning that Ronan Izmir pocketed $100,000 for his winning owner, Sally Burns, making this the most lucrative country cup result in Australianhistory.
Ronan Izmir pinged the lids to take the early lead in the cup and looked in control of the race early, but Kel Greenoughâs Paw Licking showed amazing mid race acceleration to cross Ronan Izmir to lead clearly turning for home. Ronan Izmir then knuckled down in the straight to rally back in the shadows of the post to win in a blistering 25.09. He showed all the guts and determination that has made him such a special dog. The race was reminiscent of the stirring two horse battle in the 1986 Cox Plate, where champion gallopers Bonecrusher and Our Waverley Star battled it out for the last six hundred metres in an epic struggle.
The win capped off an amazing year for the son of Elite State and Adhara Izmir, adding the Ballarat crown to his Bendigo and Warrnambool wins from earlier in the year. This is the third time in 2013 that Ronan Izmir and Paw Licking have run the quinella in a country cup. Michael Sigalis summed it up perfectly when discussing the race earlier this week. âThey are both exceptional horseshoe dogs. In the absence of Paw Licking, Ronan Izmir would be considered a champion and in the absence of Ronan Izmir, Paw Licking would be a champion. The rivalry has been such that they are splitting the spoils.â
The win of Ronan Izmir capped off a fantastic night for the Thompson kennel, who also won the consolation, with the highly talented sprinter Innocent Til holding off the fast finishing Banjo Boy.
2013 Ballarat Cup Final Replay
Tomorrow nightâs Group 2 Mega Merch Ballarat Cup promises to be one of the most exciting country cups in recent memory, with a sensational mix of proven stars and some very exciting up and coming sprinters. There is also the added intrigue of Paw Licking and Ronan Izmir chasing the $50,000 GRV incentive on offer for winning three country cups in a calendar year.
got the thoughts from the eight kennels in the lead-up to the big race.
|Comments: Darren McDonald (Trainer) -Â ”He is some sort of chance from the box. He is two or three lengths off the really good dogs, but his habits are good. If he didn’t have the box he would struggle, but if he does everything right from there he is some sort of chance. I would say a good each way chance, but he will need that element of luck, and with that luck he will be competitive.”||
|Comments: Tom Dailly (Co-trainer) -Â ”He has drawn nicely inside, but will need to get out of the box to beat Ronan Izmir or Paw Licking. I won’t be holding my breath, he doesn’t come out running very often.”Â Â||
|Clone Your Own||
|Comments: Robbie Britton (Trainer) – “It will be tough. I think I’ve got a dog good enough to win the race, but because he isn’t overly quick early it will be tough against these other dogs. However, if he has a little bit of luck, he is definitely good enough to win the race.”||
|Comments: Jason Thompson (Trainer) – “I think the dog has a terrific chance. Even though the four doesn’t seem like a good draw, with the dogs drawn around him I think it’s ok. I’m actually as happy as I can be considering he drew the middle, we think he will be near the lead or leading the race. He is going very well and has had a freshen up before the series started and hopefully he is ready to peak tomorrow night. He is a very good chance, it’s now up to him.”||
|Comments: Kel Greenough (Trainer) – “Paw Licking and Ronan Izmir are unbelievably evenly matched, almost identical on ability and I don’t think there is a breath between them. The dog that gets the breaks is the dog that will win the race. but if they do happen to go hammer and tongs at each other they can set it up for something else to run them down.”||
|Comments: Joe Borg (Trainer) – “It all depends on Ronan Izmir and Paw Licking, who are the likely leaders. I’m hoping I get a clean run and Empire Allen doesn’t cut down on top. My dog has genuine early pace, but not as much as the two genuine speedsters. If he get’s a clean run, then he can finish it off nicely. He is very strong at the end, which is his biggest asset. Proven Impala is the best dog I’ve trained, but this dog is the fastest.”||
|Comments: Tom Dailly (Co-trainer) -Â “He has drawn the opposite end and it will be hard to get around the other two, but you never know. He is a good honest dog and was a great run last week. I would have preferred him drawn inside.”||
|Comments: Tammy Collins (Kennel Representative) -Â “We are going to need a lot of luck from the pink and we would have preferred him drawn on the rails. Being so young and inexperienced, he might find it tough against the more seasoned campaigners. He is a young dog on the rise and will improve with this experience, but will find it tough.”||
The general consensus among the camps is that the likely leader will be Ronan Izmir or Paw Licking, which will make it very hard for any runner to chase them down. If those two speedsters happen to tangle, then it will set the race up for a run on type such as the highly talented Joe Borg trained youngster Deadly Vane, or Clone Your Own for Robbie Britton. It promises to be an exciting race, with the field assembled worthy of the races Group Two status.
Matthew Jenkins, from TABwho are betting pre-post on the final; reports they have taken bets of $1,600 @ $2.80 on Paw Licking to win the final and that Deadly Vane “has found steady support, backed $16.00 in to $9.00 with plenty of $100 bets.”
This Wednesday night one-bend superstars Ronan Izmir and Paw Licking will add significant intrigue to the $80,000 Group Two Mega Merch Ballarat Cup. Both sprinters will race for an extra $50,000 if either manages to win the cup, as part of the GRV incentive for winning three country cupâs in a calendar year.
was lucky enough to catch up with Paw Lickingâs trainer Kel Greenough and Ronan Izmir representative Michael Sigalas for their thoughts leading into Australiaâs richest country cup final.
âThe two dogs are unbelievably evenly matched, almost identical on ability and I donât think there is a breath between them. The dog that gets the breaks is the dog that will win the race, but if they do happen to go hammer and tongs at each other they can set it up for something else to run them down. It really is amazing how even these dogs are, they have been for months.â
âThe GRV Bonus is a great incentive and probably means you have to have a crack at the cups if your dog is in line for the bonus, which is why both of them are there. Itâs for double the money. If they could extend the rule and make it over a twelve month period it would be good, and not just a calendar year, as it would mean he would still have Warragul left. If your dog is flying in the middle of the year you have less bites at the cherry.â
âI think the incentive makes the quality of these country cups outstanding, but I believe they went up drastically when they changed the prizemoney for the heats. Now they are running for $5K instead of $1400 for the heats, city class dogs will compete for city class money. I donât know if this is the biggest start of the dogs career, but with nearly $100k on the line it might be.â
âMy Â dog is one hundred percent for Wednesday, he is fine, really good. Iâm not sure where I will head after the final. The trouble is Hobart is eight days later and itâs hard to get to Hobart to give him a look. Saturday trials are too close to Wednesday nightâs final and Monday trials are too close to Thursdayâs race at Hobart. Itâs really important with the Bramich lure, if you donât trial you are almost guaranteed to miss the start by a length or two. If we donât go to Hobart i’ll give him a few weeks off, he has been up for a long time. The Warragul Cup in January would be the next target.â
âDrawing under Paw Licking is a big advantage. We are hoping to come out as well as it and hold it to the first turn. These dogs have met three times in cup finals in the past and each time the winner has drawn underneath the other one. They wonât hit each other as Ronan Izmir moves down; I think one of the two will win the race.â
âWe werenât able to run Paw Licking down at Shepp, and he couldnât run us down at Bendigo and Warrnambool. They are both exceptional horseshoe dogs. In the absence of Paw Licking, Ronan Izmir would be considered a champion and in the absence of Ronan Izmir, Paw Licking would be a champion. The rivalry has been such that they are splitting the spoils. Ronan Izmir has set three track records and I think Paw Licking has also set three track records.â
âIf we canât win the race, we would like the Paw Licking camp to get the chocolates. I think itâs exceptional for the industry that GRV offer these incentives, and it will make for great publicity if the bonus goes off. It will be a great story at a time thatdeserves such stories, especially in light of the garbage the was in the 7.30 Report on the ABC a month ago.â
âIf our dog pulls up well, we will consider heading to Hobart fully aware that Black Magic Opal is heading that way. With Black Magic Opal and these two dogs, horseshoe racing hasnât been better. Not since Brett Lee and Big Smig etc, have we had such pure quality.â
Tonight we saw some fantastic racing at Ballarat, but it wasn’t confined to the heats of the $70,000 Mega Merch Ballarat Cup. The second heat of the GRV VBIS Maiden Series saw a phenomenal performance from the Brian Petty trained Campaspe Will, who won in an amazing 25.15 and will be extremely hard to beat in the final. This highly talented sprinter will be a dog to watch closely over the coming months.
Coming into the Ballarat Cup there were two dogs with a chance of taking home the GRV Bonus of $50k for winning three country cups in the calendar year, and they didnât let connections down.
Ronan Izmir absolutely sizzled in the fastest heat win of the night in 25.12. It was a win full of guts and determination after being crossed early by the speedy Magic Diva, who went the clear fastest first split of the night in an electric 6.46.
Paw Licking was also a tough win after being crowded early the race. The Kel Greenough speedster drove through and led all the way in 25.14, which was the second fastest run of the night. The task wasnât made easy for either runner for the final however, with Ronan Izmir drawing box four and Paw Licking box five.
The first heat of the night was won by the Joe Borg trained Deadly Vane, who gave the more seasoned Ferly Reign a start and a beating. The Vee Man Vane youngster was a very impressive winner in a time of 25.34 at only his seventh start, with the consistent Peter Rocket another good run for third.
There were some shocks on the night though; with the highly fancied Banjo Boy lowering his colours to the honest Andrea Dailly trained Empire Allen in the third fastest heat time of 25.16. It wasn’t all good news for the Dailly kennel however, with star sprinter Spud Regis leading and getting run down in the sixth heat by the Steven Collins trained Allen Malik. The son of Surf Lorian covered the 450m in a slick 25.20, and has an extremely bright future.
Dark Warrior confirmed his liking for one-bend tracks with a workmanlike win in the fifth heat for Darren McDonald, just holding off the consistent Gary Ennis trained Blaster in a time of 25.29. His chances for the final improved considerably when he drew the red box.
The sensational run of the Robbie Britton team continued in the last heat, with star New Zealand import Clone Your Own an impressive winner in a slick 25.20. He was average to begin, but showed amazing drive and mid-race speed that will hold him in good stead for the final.
With the seven winnerâs locked into the final, it was down to timeâs for the last place in the final, and the fastest second place getter was decided by the barest of margins, with the Andrea daily trained Veyron Bale sneaking into the final after his 25.29 run behind Allen Malik. The Darren Brown trained speedster Magic Diva is first reserve after posting a time of 25.30 in her heat run behind Ronan Izmir and Banjo Boy is the second reserve after his 25.31 heat run.
2013 Group 2 $70,000 Ballarat Cup Final Box Draw
- Box 1 – Dark Warrior – Darren Mcdonald – 25.29
- Box 2 – Veyron Bale – Andrea Dailly – 25.29
- Box 3 – Clone Your Own – Rob Britton – 25.20
- Box 4 – Ronan Izmir – Janon Thompson – 25.12
- Box 5 – Paw Licking – Kel Greenough – 25.14
- Box 6 – Deadly Vane – Joe Borg – 25.34
- Box 7 – Empire Allen – Andrea Dailly – 25.16
- Box 8 – Allen Malik – Steve Collins – 25.20
- 1st Reserve – Magic Diva – Gary Ennis – 25.30
- 2nd Reserve – Banjo Boy – Ken Virtue – 25.31
2013 Ballarat Cup Heats Replays
When you imagine owning a dog that will win you over $200,000 in prizemoney, you probably envisage owning a group winner or a dog that has landed a couple of big feature events. But for owner Ryan Silvester and the Pride Of Five, their dog, Pedroâs Finest has done it in a fashion that is a little against the grain.
Pedroâs Finest or Wally as he is affectionately known, turned five this week and the epitome oflongevity is still performing as well as ever. He surpassed the $200,000 in earnings when he won his 39th race. Recently, he gave Magpie Bob an eight length start and ran him down. Magpie Bob has proven himself at group level in the eastern states both before and since that run, so at five years of age, Pedroâs Finest is one greybeard who is showing no signs of slowing down.
Silvester explains how they came to be associated with the gallant white and black chaser and the techniques that landed Wally the gig as their dog.
âMyself and four friends had decided to buy a pup and looked up the whelpings on the GRV site and saw the Where’s Pedro x Somerton Lass litter. I called the breeder Mick Delaney to see if he was going to sell any and a month later when they were three months old we went and picked him out of the last 9 that were left from a litter of 12. We had no idea what to look for in a pup but he stood out to us as every time we threw a stuffed teddy in the middle of them he was the one that appeared from the pack with the teddy in his mouth.â
Despite the fact that Pedroâs Finest started his career with a victory, finding a trainer prior to that wasn’t all beer and skittles for the.
âHe was turned down by two Victorian trainers before he started racing based on his pre-training times which were just average. Mick (Delaney) said give him to me and I’ll get him going for you then, when he has some form on the board, we’ll find a trainer. Mick is good friends with Darren McDonald so when Wally started showing potential it was Mick who asked Darren if he wanted to give him a go. Darren then saw him trial at Warragul and then decided to take him.â
Pedroâs Finest won two of his first eight starts for Delaney and was very unlucky not to have won more, with a couple of unlucky fast finishing efforts. After transferring to Darren McDonald, he really started to blossom and won 13 races for the astute Devon Meadows mentor, stepping up to the middle distance which suited his racing style. It was a combination of fateful events and sound advice that saw âWallyâ head to Western Australia to begin the next chapter of his remarkable career.
âDarren had to go to hospital for a major operation so he was clearing all dogs out of his kennels. I asked him to recommend someone to take over the training and Darren said if he was my dog I’d send him to WA, he’ll do well over there. That was a very difficult decision for us to make as we loved going to watch him race but we decided Darren, being such a good judge of dogs, we would go with his advice and send him to John (Iwanyk).â
Since that time Pedroâs Finest has gone to another level, winning no less than 24 races in the golden west, many of them over 715 metres. He also ran third to the champion bitch Miata in the Group 1 Galaxy.
Pedroâs Finest is the greyhound equivalent of a pensioner who can still compete in a sport at the top level. Every trainer would love to have a dog that is still zipping around with the gusto of Wally at his age, so I had to ask Silvester what he thought the secret was.
âHe has been blessed to be with three good trainers who love their dogs so I think his overall happiness and his love of the chase. He has a magnificent temperament and from what trainers (Darren McDonald and John Iwanyk) have told me he is such a lovely laid back dog to have in the kennels. John even says he is like part of the family to him.â
Pedroâs Finest has amassed 140 starts, given that so many of them have been over the grueling staying distances, it is testament to his durability, although he has had his share of injuries too.
âHe had a bone chip removed from his foot after his Maiden final which put him out for several weeks and also he had quite a serious hock injury in WA which had him sidelined for about three months.â
Owning a dog that has won 39 races would provide plenty of memories and create a real dilemma when it comes to space for photos on the wall. But when I asked Silvester which win was his favourite, the answer was simple.
âI would have to say his Maiden win at Sale. There have been lots of memorable wins but for me the Sale win on debut was a big thrill. All the owners made the three hour journey down to Sale to watch him and it was just such a big thrill. Although not a win, his third in the Group 1 Galaxy final behind Miata was also a big thrill.â
The obvious question for a dog like Pedroâs Finest is always going to be about his retirement but right now thereâs clearly no reason for that.
âJohn has told us that Wally will tell us when he’s had enough but for now while he’s still very competitive and loves his racing he will continue. We are also going to register him for stud in the hope of one day getting a nice bitch that we can use him with.â
And you just never know, with the way heâs going, this time next year we might be writing about Wally as a six year old.
We have just seen another fine run by Black Magic Opal to take out the super-rich Melbourne Cup at Sandown. Nothing else really had a chance when it scooted out in front down the back and the rest of the field smashed themselves to bits. Anything that had a chance of running down the favourite was caught up in that mess on the first turn.
But please stop calling this dog a champion. Itâs got a way to go before it justifies that title, one which is grossly over-used these days.
Champions are those that win nearly all the time, that run very fast and consistently, that are versatile, and regularly beat the best in the land. Black Magic Opal has not quite done that yet but he is on his way. As mentioned here previously, he is already the worldâs fastest greyhound up to 460m. Nothing can touch his win in the Geelong Cup, although his record 24.87 at Warrnambool 450m came very close. The same goes for his record equalling 24.92 at Maitland over 450m, while his wins at The Gardens 400m and Bendigo 425m were also excellent.
Over 500m-plus, which is the prime measuring stick, the situation is different. He has had 10 starts on three circle tracks and won six of them but, relatively, not in the same times as on the one-turn tracks. Possibly the quickest would have been 29.65 at Wentworth Park. Plenty of dogs are up to that standard, which is several lengths short of the record (Punch One Out â 29.27). And itâs nowhere the same overall speed as he has clocked up at Geelong or Warrnambool.
Black Magic Opalâs just concluded heat and final wins at Sandown â in 29.41 and 29.37 – were run in much the same sort of time. Indeed, on the night another dog (Hailstorm Billy) ran faster in winning a 5th grade heat and two others were just behind him. A previous Cup winner, Dyna Tron, had also run much faster time, as did Bekim Bale when it set the current track record of 28.95.
In short, Black Magic Opal wins because he leads and hangs on pretty well, especially up to 460m.
At two and a half years of age, Black Magic Opal may well keep maturing and, with strength, record even faster times over the longer trips. Time will tell. But it has not happened yet so it is just not appropriate to give him the champion tag. Apart from anything else, it tends to downgrade past champions.
Meantime, it is worth mentioning that the dogâs early history at Maitland and Wentworth Park was notable for erratic starts. Seldom did he jump well, although he would often be in front by the first marker. These days the move to Victoria under Jason Thompsonâs care seems to have smartened him up. He still does not jump in front but at least comes out with the field and then runs quickly to the lead.
Whatever, 26 wins from 33 starts is spectacular stuff.
Back to the Sandown meeting. Another promising dog, Tomac Bale, ran a very similar race to Black Magic Opal in what was really the Cup consolation. It led around the turn and ran away from them, not only because it is also a good dog but because chaos reigned behind him. That first turn has a lot to answer for. Xylia Allen, amongst others, got truly belted there. In both feature races, one or two inside dogs moved off as they passed the judge and started a chain reaction of nuclear proportions. In the Cup, one such mover was Shifty Sticka, which has generally been a very good railer.
That spot at Sandown has a mysterious but undefined effect on many inside dogs, promoting what I call the Sandown Two-Step. For no obvious reason they move suddenly to the right. It is dynamite when it occurs and it has been there since the track was re-built in 1988. After the first six months experience I pointed this out to the club CEO at the time and then more than once over the years to the GRV CEO (curiously, they were the same person). I supplied a large amount of evidence to support the need for a fix. Alas, it was ignored, but it is why the Melbourne Cup field got smashed last Thursday.
But look at some more recent evidence. In the last 116 races at Sandown on Thursdays (excluding maidens), 44 First Four dividends have exceeded $1,000, including for the Melbourne Cup, and 14 of those exceeded $2,000. There is no way that could happen if races were run in an orderly fashion.
A track, or part thereof, is not good because someone says so. Only the dogs can tell you, and they have spoken often. The whole thing needs redesign and rebuilding.
It might even help the running over 715m, where Thursdayâs Bold Trease field fiddled around before finally having a committee meeting on the home turn. Half a dozen of them then decided to go over the line together â one and a half lengths covered them â with one miraculously poking its nose out in front in a moderate 42.27. It would have been seven of them were it not for the fact that Amity Flame got ankle-tapped going around the home turn. A mixed Grade 4/5 race was won earlier in the night in three lengths faster time. The Bold Trease was generally forgettable.
The upshot of all this is that the industry distributed $645k in prize money over two big races where bedlam dominated. Punters across the country bet about the same again, led in by $106k on the Win tote on the Cup in Victoria alone. Happily, a lot of those folk would have doubled their money on Black Magic Opal but very few exotic punters would have been as lucky. Itâs overdue for GRV to take some action to help them
NONE SO DEAF AS …
Regrettably, it is necessary to report that Racing Tasmania and GRNSW are still telling lies. Sectional times for all Tasmanian races, published on the NSW website, are still being assigned to the winner of the race, regardless of what dog was actually responsible for them, and despite several attempts to bring the problem to the two authoritiesâ attention.
Those errors then go into the record books in the name of the wrong dogs, where they will mislead future punters. They will be best advised to ignore all sectional data from Tasmania, or even forget about betting on Tasmanian races entirely. The subject also poses questions about the integrity of the OzChase data system.
Banjo Boy is a dog that has created interest in theAustralian wide. The son of Vee Man Vane has shown amazing ability from an early age, which has captured the imagination of greyhound enthusiasts.
The disappointment of Banjo Boyâs sensational scratching at the track prior to the Melbourne Cup Heats was felt far and wide, disrupting pre-post Cup betting markets and robbingof one of its stars on the big stage.
Whatever wider discontent that scratching caused, it paled in to insignificance compared to the anguish and frustration experienced by trainer Ken Virtue and owner Andrew Virasdi.
Today,(ARG) sat down for an interview with Ken about the incident and his thoughts about the future of the dog he knows as âThommoâ moving forward.
ARG – Why were you giving Banjo Boy and Banjo Star Cimetidine?
Itâs the active ingredient in a prescription drug called Magical 200. Itâs to prevent stomach ulcers. If you are interested Google what it really does and you will see. It was prescribed for possible stomach ulcers. Iâve got the blood tests where it was prescribed back in July 2012.
ARG â What did the stewards say when they came to your kennels on the day of the Melbourne Cup heats?
They produced the swabs from the 19th and 26th of September and the 3rd of October. They were basically there to deliver paperwork relating to the swabs. Then Ron Matthews proceeded to inspect my kennels and found in the open what was given to the dogs, which wasnât being hidden in any way. I admitted to giving the drugs. They guaranteed to me that the dog wouldnât be scratched and advised me that they didnât have the power to scratch the dog. Which I found amazing.
ARG – Why did the stewards let you kennel on the night and not scratch Banjo Boy earlier in the day if thatâs what they intended on doing?
Ask the GRV Stewards department.
They should have made the decision on the Wednesday night, as they had the swab results at 12.38pm on the Wednesday. They have disadvantaged many industry participants, the connections of the reserve runner should be filthy, the pre post punters have done their money cold and punters with quaddie tickets got given Xylia Allen. There were many people disadvantaged by this.
ARG â Did you consider pulling the dog out that morning?
I honestly believed there wouldnât be a problem based on the fact that the dog was prescribed the drugs on July 2012 and I was treating the dog as advised. I had received four negative swabs between January 2013 and September 2013. These included when Banjo Star won the Vic Breeders at Cranbourne and Banjo Boy won the Derby at Healesville.
So over ten months, I was swabbed four times over a ten month period and got negative results, then I suddenly test positive three times in a fortnight. The stewards then turn up on the day of the Melbourne Cup heats, what would you do? I believed the dog would produce a negative swab if he was tested, so I was happy to run him and see what happened.
ARG – What transpired at kennelling prior to the stewards scratching him?
I arrived at the Sandown track with my fifteen year old son and they bailed me up at the back of the car park. I was told not to leave the car or remove the dog and they whisked me away.
My son likened it to a “police bust”. I then came back to the car and took Banjo out of the car and they performed a swab.
ARG – Can you explain why Banjo Boy and Banjo Star both produced two negative swabs earlier in the year?
Ask the lab and the GRV.
ARG – On a happier topic, 25.46 trial Warragul?
Yep. Thatâs the level of the dogâs ability at this stage, and we hope he is still improving. Thatâs faster than El Grand Senorâs track record – so itâs exciting.
ARG â When will we see him back?
He is in the Ballarat Cup heats next Wednesday night. He has drawn box three, but itâs an extremely tough race. Iâd rather race him over 500+, and if this incident hadnât occurred he would have headed for Albion Park.
This isnât the preferred option, but with everything thatâs going on with the dog, itâs the best option currently.
ARG â What are your thoughts on Andrew knocking back a six figure offer for Thommo?
Itâs obvious, the dog is worth more than that and is yet to reach his top. Andrew doesnât need the money, so itâs a no brainer.
ARG â Could this episode impact on the dogs stud career?
Definitely not. This dog is a superstar.
I reared Black Shiraz and Nitro Burst and this dog is the best potential stud dog Iâve seen. I think he is worth more than five hundred thousand. He matches up perfectly to Brett Lee bitches.
He has gone 18.97 Healesville and has run amazing times on one bend and two turn tracks. The dog does it all. He has an amazing temperament and chasing attitudes. There is no limit to where this dog could go. In saying all that, Iâm not sure if he would have won the Melbourne Cup. Jasonâs dog is something special as well.
It has to be said. I really donât want to see another race like the 2013 Shootout again. I certainly canât recall one like it previously. Who needs a formguide when a pin will do just as well?
Of the four runners, only one performed roughly as you would expect â Dyna Nalin â although its overall time was quicker than normal, no doubt helped by the small field. Its sectional of 5.21 was within its range but considerably slower than in the TopGun (its 5.13 at The Meadows would convert to a Sandown equivalent of about 5.09).
Xylia Bale gets the plaudits, all due to an uncharacteristic and unpredictable quick start. At every other run in its 46-race career, bar one, it has not got within two lengths of its 4.97 sectional. And two lengths is a huge differential on the way to the first marker. The single exception was tucked away over the Bass Strait at Launceston, when it broke the track record back in February against much weaker competitors. And, since Tasmanian timing systems are very unreliable, we canât even be sure of that. Still, I guess every dog has its day.
It is also noteworthy that Xylia Allen was heavily backed into a close third favouritism at $3.40 in NSW and outright favouritism in Victoria at $2.50 in a much larger pool. In either case those odds were arguably âundersâ, considering the form of the opposition and Xylia Allenâs normal habits. They were also considerably less than pre-racepurveyors were offering (that includes the Watchdog). And not only in early markets. Xylia Allenâs final Fixed Odds on Tabcorp was $3.00, or well above the Victorian SP of $2.50, created in a pool of $39,132. Consequently, itâs hard to guess whether the big push was due to smart money or just a late flood of cash from all over the state. Really strange.
Another way of looking at all that is that Xylia Allen started off at a speed it achieves just over 4% of the time but its Victorian tote price assumed it had a 40% chance of winning. Certainly, the small field suited its running habits but, theoretically, it was faced with running down two highly qualified leaders. That did not happen, of course.
But what of the other two? The record-equalling Banjo Boy was, by its standards, moderate all the way while Punch One Out ran like a stampeding buffalo â every which way. Its jump, and the one in the TopGun, were appalling to say the least, and then it ran like a mad thing back and forth across the track. Never before have I seen the dog do that, or anything like it, including in its previous runs at Sandown. Remember this is the same dog that recently got under The Meadows track record in a solo trial, and (allegedly) did the same over Lismore 420m on the previous Friday. Neither of those would have been possible with a slow start and erratic running.
The stewards say they did pre-race testing but, post-race, only the first two dogs were called in for a swab. Why on earth would you ignore the two that ran poorly?
The way Punch One Out performed, the least you might expect is a swab and a very thorough vet examination. Who knows what niggles it may have picked up during its lengthy travels back and forth to Melbourne? Punters who sent it out a close second favourite (including me) would expect no less. It put in a shocker and we are entitled to answers.
This is yet another example where the stewards appear to have little interest in form assessments. The race created serious questions, but none were asked.
Incidentally, those commentators who wondered about Xylia Allenâs relatively modest finishing effort are asking a bit much. This was not Damien Oliver holding up Fiorente for a late run to the line. Dogs cannot do it a both ends of the trip.
As for the concept of a four-dog Shootout, it makes no sense to judge its fortunes on the basis of one poor race. It adds variety and interest to the mix. However, there is probably value in making sure the competitors also have to put their own money on the line. There is nothing like self-interest.
JUSTICE NOT SEEN TO BE DONE
Last month I suggested that dogs caught fighting should never be entitled to collect prize money.
Just before the running of the Shootout, a maiden at Warrnambool fought the leader all the way down the home straight, eventually worrying it out of the race. This resulted in a 30/1 bolter getting up to win, which did not please a couple of punters around me.
The fighter, which happened to be the favourite, copped a 28 day suspension but still ended up running second and collecting $285 which, by rights, should be passed on to the trainer of the victim, Darren Brown.
Better yet, change the rules so that offenders are disqualified from the race, as would occur in the gallops and harness codes, to say nothing of human sporting contests. In that event this victim would have moved up from 4th to 3rd, which would have been some consolation.
INFORMATION FOR ALL
It was interesting to read that the Australian Veterinary Association submission to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry highlighted the need to create a ânationally accessible databaseâ of all things greyhound, including injury information.
It underlines the nonsense being created when you see Greyhounds Australasia, GRNSW (Ozchase) and GRV (Fasttrack) all build different versions of the same thing, and all have difficulty talking to each other. Of course, varying grading patterns and different reporting rules in each state do not help either. It is also confusing for private systems from National Tabform on down to lowly punters in the bush.
One difficult task is to chase down the race performances of the progeny of your favourite sire. For example, the otherwise very smart website, Greyhound-Data, has a marvellous presentation of Australian and worldwide breeding information but its race figures are hopelessly inaccurate.
Notably, the absence of any means of public access, and the inability to consider form and breeding in a single or related database, are factors which hold back the development ofas well as making it more expensive to manage. Some things are worth competing for, but hard information is not one of them.
Greyhound Box Draw For Geelong – Friday, 8 November 2013
1st: $1,325 2nd: $375 3rd: $190.
1st: $1,325 2nd: $375 3rd: $190.
1st: $1,325 2nd: $375 3rd: $190.
1st: $7,500 2nd: $2,140 3rd: $1,070 GOBIS: $1,000.
1st: $1,615 2nd: $460 3rd: $230.
1st: $1,405 2nd: $400 3rd: $200.
1st: $1,405 2nd: $400 3rd: $200.
1st: $3,295 2nd: $945 3rd: $470.
1st: $1,650 2nd: $475 3rd: $235.
1st: $1,325 2nd: $375 3rd: $190.
1st: $1,325 2nd: $375 3rd: $190.
People get really annoyed when their odds-on favourite gets rolled but it happens more often than you think.
We had a look at the main meetings at four big tracks over the last 8 weeks â involving 502 races â and found that half of all these hotpots crashed out. Of the 119 odds-on starters, 49% won but 51% lost. Since they paid an average of under $1.70 this means that a dollar on each would result in a loss of at least 20% of your stake money.
Here is how they stacked up (Albion Park figures covered its two main weekly meetings).
|Wentworth Park||150 races||39 odds-on favourites||20 winners||49% lost|
|The Meadows||96 races||23 odds-on favourites||8 winners||65% lost|
|Sandown Park||96 races||14 odds-on favourites||7 winners||50% lost|
|Albion Park||160 races||43 odds-on favourites||23 winners||47% lost|
Two reasons for the failures seem to dominate. First, many gamblers have a sheep-like attitude and follow the favourite on down in price, even when it is not worth it. Thatâs the âbetter than bank interestâ syndrome. In some cases they may be betting when the price is better but the late money often tends to depress the price and so they get a surprise when the dividend emerges.
Changes like that seldom occur at the gallops but it is routine in the small greyhound pools.
The other factor is that the price may be terrible for the dog in question. Punters are assessing the dog on what it might do, or what it has done in the past, without properly considering its current form or its position in the race.
One example is Renegade Chief, sent out at $1.70 at The Meadows last week from box 3.Â It has had some good wins in the past but it had failed to win in its most recent six starts and was looking as though it lacked a bit of zip. In the event, it came out moderately and finished moderately, running fourth in average time. That form justified nearer $5.00 than odds-on yet the big move was still on.
Another was the in-form Farmor Las Vegas at $1.80 at Sandown last week. From box 8 it had to jump well, which it did, but three other dogs jumped quicker to make life difficult as they rounded the corner. Thatâs always a potential danger for outside dogs. The early pace was fairly predictable so those odds did not represent good value, never mind whether it was the best dog in the race or not.
Then an either-or situation prevailed at Albion Park on October 17 when that very smart racer Honey Bouquet drew the 8 box in a six-dog field. Seeing it listed at $4.50 in NSW, I thought that was great value and took an interest. In the event it just failed to cross the field and finished 3rd. But I would have been very disappointed as it finished up at $1.90 in NSW ($2.80 in Queensland). Smallish pools always pose that danger but the difference is stark. The following week, from the same box in an almost identical field, it managed to cross and lead even though its first sectional was almost identical to the previous week. But punters were wary this time and it paid $4.70 in NSW and $3.30 in Queensland. In neither of those races was an odds-on price justified. From the inside, maybe, but not from the 8, where luck plays a bigger part.
Obviously, both circumstances and ignorance of all the facts play a part in these ups and downs. Too many punters these days trust their emotions rather than the hard data (which they probably do not look at).
In that vein, consider this comment in a report on high school students by Fairfax Media (23 Oct), âenrolments in standard two-unit mathematics have declined steeply over the past decade and a significant proportion of students do not study maths at allâ. Could that be where these punters are coming from?
Whatever the influences, poor value on the Win tote would no doubt be a factor in the rise in popularity of exotic bets in recent times.
Wait, Thereâs More
The education of punters is not helped by the way tipsheets and formguides rate the runnersâ chances.
It has now become a universal habit for them to list the chances of each runner by some mysterious device which churns out a set of numbers like 100, 98, 96, 94 etc. Apparently, this is meant to tell us who the best and worst are. But what do the numbers mean? How can we apply them in practice?Â Of course, we canât. They are meaningless.
There was an extraordinary example in the TOPGUN where the GRV formguide rated all dogs in the range 100 down to 95. Two were at 100 â Ernie Bung Arrow and Dyna Nailin â and three were at 99 â Peter Rocket, Punch One Out and Tomac Bale. Those numbers bear no relationship whatever to the real pricing so how can that help the punter?
Pricing is the other conundrum. That same formguide, as well as the TAB and online bookies, display a list of odds for each dog. In every case those odds amounted to a book of around 130%, which is way outside what the totes (114%) or genuine bookies in a competitive market would charge. Itâs a complete rip-off for unsuspecting punters. They are trading uncertainty for a price that will never allow them to make a profit. Winners will never really be winners.
You might say the commercial operators are entitled to do what they like â buyer beware. So be it. But there is no excuse for state racing authorities to do likewise. Their responsibility is to serve and protect the public, not to lead them down the garden path.
The end effect is to degrade the concept of value pricing and instead encourage gamblers into quickie bets, much as would happen with a poker machine.
In either of these cases, those official formguides should tell the reader what the figures mean, how they were derived, and what the built-in profit was. Or, better still, get rid of the 100, 99, 98 nonsense.
Working out big races like the TOPGUN is never easy because there is always a lot of talent involved.
However, at a track like The Meadows the local peculiarities are important, mainly the heavy bias to inside boxes and the importance of getting around that first turn on the rail.
Barring major interference, this year there are two runners that cannot win. Glen Gallon (6) and Dyna Nalin (8) are not only poorly boxed but will also be giving them a start. You canât do that in top events.
Xylia Allen (5) has much the same problem and will depend on accidents to be able to negotiate its way through the field, just as it had to do in the Geelong Cup (4th).
Ernie Bung Arrow (7) will give them a fright for a while but will stay off the track and should be overtaken by the time the home turn arrives.
Peter Rocket on the rails will do everything right but that may not be quite enough this time. Just outside it, Punch One Out (2) is the big rage yet it does not normally come out of the boxes brilliantly and depends on mustering speed on the way to the turn.
In turn, that will depend on whether Tomac Bale (3) leans on it on in the early stages â quite possible although both tend to race one or two off the rail â incidentally leaving the way clear for Peter Rocket to move up into the placings.
Either way, Spud Regis (4) is likely to lead the inside division and will also have room inside the flying Ernie Bung Arrow. They should be the leaders into the back straight. The only question with Spud Regis is that it has not raced for a month and we are dependent on the Daillys presenting it in hardened condition.
Spud Regis has won here previously in 29.63 and won its last race here in 29.83 on September 21. The odds are that it will lead into the home straight, after which itâs just a matter of whether the heavy hitters can round it up. If it is at its best, they will just miss out. Ernie will have disappeared, of course.
By the way, the GRV Watchdog shows Tomac Bale leading Spud Regis early. Not on my calculations, which are based on average sectional performances, not their occasional best run.
Good race, though.
This Saturday Night the Meadows plays host to the 21stÂ edition of the invitation-only Group 1 Topgun.Â With a wonderful field of sprinters engaged the race features champion greyhounds from 4 different states. Victoria, Â South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia â each entrant with their own realistic chance of taking out the first prize and the title of Topgun winner.Â Â This yearâs event will also be the final race of champion Queensland greyhound Glen Gallon, who with victory would surpass Miata as Australiaâs highest stake winning greyhound.
As Greyhound racingâs most controversial race, arguments have continued around the Topgun format since the first running in 1993 when the race finished in a dead heat between Golden Currency and Worth Backing.Â The Topgun creates media attention and is marketing genius. It gets participants talking and butting heads, participants argue for and against and ultimately the result is media attention on a race that many donât believe should exist, let alone carry the status that it does.Â A walk up start, Group 1 status and $150,000 to the winner.Â These arguments add to the aurora of the event, the build-up, the spectacle.Â It is what the industry needs â fuelling discussions between participants, stakeholders, observers and punters alike.
Adding to the furore to this yearâs event is the drawing of champion greyhound Xylia Allen in box 5. Whilst definitely deserving her place in the final field, Bate is facing nine months on the sidelines if an appeal before VCAT is not successful. GRV have since approved the transfer of Bate’s team to his son in law Peter Hunt. Some would say that in fairness to others in the industry, Bates punishment should have affected his whole team, not just changed the name of the dogâs trainer.Victoria have done themselves and the integrity of the industry no favours by allowing Hall of Fame trainer Graeme Bate to be listed as her trainer.Â Recently disqualified for elevated Testosterone levels
Nevertheless, the aurora of controversy surrounding the Topgun will continue and with a quality field assembled,looks into each of the 8 finalists and 2 reserve runnerâs chances.
Sky Channel TOPGUN â The Meadows Race 8 â 525meters â 9:52PM Vic Time
Box 1Â â Peter Rocket (Whereâs Pedro â Belron Blue) â Vic
The Keith Hellmuth-trained Victorian sensation has been a wonderful performer since first gracing the track some 49 starts ago.Â With a career record of 20 wins and 19 placingâs, the August 2010 whelp has won in excess of $225,000 in prizemoney. With group wins in the Group 1 Megastar and the Group 2 Horsham Cup he is a multiple group finalist capable of running sub 30 at
the Meadows. With wonderful track form (12 starts â 5 wins and 6 placingâs) he looks well drawn in the cherry with the bonus of a wide runner drawn to his outside. Should have room to move early.
Box 2Â â Punch One Out (Knocka Norris â Little Egyptian) â Qld
Owned and Trained by Grant Fennelly, the 27 kilogram speed machine is coming off her first group win when successful at her most recent start- the Group 3 Gold Coast Cup when running a flying 29.75 (BON) at Albion Park.Â Often mistaken as being a he, she is a flying machine as evidenced by track records at Wentworth Park and Richmond.Â With 44 career starts resulting in 22 wins and 14 placings, the February 2011 whelp has won in excess of $125,000 in prizemoney.Â She is a speed machine capable of anything on her day.Â Whilst yet to win at the Meadows (1 start â 1 third),, she did trial just .10 seconds outside the track record last week when scorching in a solo trial running 29.55.Â Well drawn and with fast beginner to her immediate outside she will have every chance.
Box 3Â â Tomac Bale (Dyna Lachlan â Princess Bale) â Vic
The first of three finalists for Australiaâs greyhound dynasty The Wheeler Family.Â Trained by Victorian Mentor Mark Delbridge, Tomac Bale headlines a kennel who have had an amazing 2013.Â Loves the Meadows with 7 wins from 11 starts here including a 29.67 PB. Group 2 winner of the Launching Pad, he is a multiple group finalist and was second at his most recent start, the Group 1 Adelaide Cup Final. 23 starts resulting in 12 wins and 4 placingâs and in excess of $150,000 in prizemoney.Â If he begins will take plenty of catching. A speed machine who can be risky (at times) at box rise â followers will know his chances in the first few strides.
Box 4Â â Spud Regis (Bombastic Shiraz â Phiona) â Vic
December 2010 whelp who has faced criticism and negative comments about his invitation into this yearâs event.Â Returning from a brief stud career, his last performance was very impressive winning at this track and trip in BOD 29.83 one month ago. Track specialist with 10 starts resulting in 6 wins and 1 placing. The son of legendary greyhound Bombastic Shiraz, he is himself a 3 time group winner including the 2012 Group 1 Adelaide Cup, Group 3 SA Derby and Group 1 Australian Cup. With 31 careers starts returning 16 wins and 10 placingâs, he has been a superstar on the track winning $450,000 in prizemoney.Â In the kennel of leading Victorian Mentor Andrea Dailly, Spud Regis will have plenty of support despite the awkward draw in box 4.Â He is a tenacious chaser who is brilliant early â a win would not surprise despite a limited preparation.
Box 5Â â Xylia Allen (Turanza Bale â Tayah Bale) â Vic
Champion bitch who has had a wonderful 2013 campaign, including 4 Group wins (3 Group 1âs) â Group 1 National Sprint, Group 1 Sapphire Crown, Group 1 Peter Mosman and Group 2 Launceston Cup.Â Tenacious chaser who would run through a brick wall. Can be tardy early but does have excellent race awareness and field sense. 42 Career starts resulting in 17 wins and 16 placingâs including $377,000 in earnings.Â Fast PB of 29.63 at this track and distance. Second of the Wheeler runners and is a winning chance.
Box 6Â â Glen Gallon (Flying Stanley â Incoherent) â Qld
Queensland Champion and third on the overall all-time prizemoney list with $618,000 in career earnings. Regular group performer in the hands of leading Queensland mentor Tony Brett. The four year old superstar is having his final race start before retiring to stud and is looking for his 4thÂ Group 1 win (Brisbane Cup 2011, Winter Cup 2012 and 2013).Â A TOPGUN win would take his prizemoney past the great Miata as the all-time highest.Â 70 career starts resulting in 37 wins and 15 placingâs. Champion dog sure to be well supported in this despite the terrible draw.
Box 7Â â Ernie Bung Arrow (Lochinvar Marlow â Slipperâs Tonic) â SA
Up and coming superstar from South Australia in the hands of popular mentor Ken Gill.Â The November 2011 whelp is the baby of the field and has only faced the starter on 14 occasions for 13 wins and 1 second. Last start Group 1 Adelaide Cup winner where he was ultra-impressive in what was his toughest test to date.Â The TOPGUN will be his first start at the Meadows and outside of South Australia. Trialled well and is sure to be improved after having his first look. Exceptional from the boxes, he has the ability to lead and is a definite winning chance.
Box 8Â â Dyna Nalin (Ashom Bale â Tally Bale) â WA
West Australian speed machine and the third runner owned by the Wheeler dynasty.Â In the hands of leading WA trainer Paul Stuart (Miata) who is no stranger to winning big events away from home.Â Strong chaser who was victorious in winning the Group 1 Perth Cup in devastating fashion. Well drawn in box 8 as he can be a little tardy at box rise.Â Group performer who possesses a powerful motor and can finish over the top of these.Â Career earnings in excess of $278,000 from 38 starts for 25 wins and 7 placingâs.Â Has raced well at the Meadows with 3 starts resulting in 2 wins and a second including a 29.89 PB. Winning chance.
Box 9Â â Gold Town (Surf Lorian â Golden Gwen) Vic
Trained by Lara mentor Peter Hunt, Gold Town has been a group performer throughout his 64 start career. Does have wonderful Meadows form with 19 starts resulting in 5 wins and 11 placings.Â Was in outstanding racing form prior to last start, when he fell in a heat of the Group 2 Geelong Cup.Â Recent form includes fast wins at Wentworth Park (Group 2 Bob Payne winner in 29.59BON) and Geelong (29.81B). Bank balance in excess of $191,000 â he is a strong greyhound capable of surprising if fortunate of gaining a start.
Box 10Â â Marcus Joe (Velocette â Mojo Glory) Vic
Out of form recently, including a last start fall in a heat of the Group 2 Geelong Cup series.Â The April 2011 whelp is owned and trained by Marcus Hill mentor Barry Maloney.Â Has an incredible 29.66 PB at the Meadows and did win the Group 1 Maturity here in July 2013 beating Dyna Nalin. Â 25 career starts resulting in 7 wins and 10 placingâs he has close to $150,000 in career earnings. Is in a strong winning chance if he can rediscover his earlier career form
SelectionsÂ â 2, 3, 8 and 1
With the race full of chances and conjecture, this yearâs winner will not only be added to the honour role, but will be listed alongside some of Australiaâs all-time greats – including: Rapid Journey (1998), No Intent (2001), Bombastic Shiraz (2003) and Meticulous (2007) as well as a host of famous Australian greyhounds of years gone by.
The Victorianindustry continues to be a world leader with strong returns in wagering, investment in infrastructure, record levels of prizemoney and an unprecedented focus on animal welfare.
Premier and Minister for Racing Denis Napthine said theVictoriaâs (GRV) Annual Report for 2012/2013 was tabled in State Parliament this week highlighting a strong year both on and off the track.
âThe Victorian Coalition Government is a strong supporter ofand itâs great to see the sport thriving,â Dr Napthine said.
âis enjoying a tremendous resurgence with more people than ever discovering its appeal, including some of the biggest modern day crowds at feature race meetings in Melbourne and regional Victoria.
âTheindustry is also a major contributor to the Victorian economy providing more than more than $200 million in annual economic benefits and 2,000 jobs across the state,â Dr Napthine said.
The GRV Annual Report highlights a number of significant achievements during 2012-13 including:
- opening of the $3.2 million Coalition Government/GRV funded redeveloped track and patron facilities at Morshead Park, Ballarat;
- an additional $2.66 million over the next three years for animal welfare measures. This includes an additional $1.035 million for the successful Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) and adds to the Coalition Governmentâs $1 million four-year commitment to GAP;
- a 24.3 per cent increase in prize money and bonuses to a record $37.8 million;
- on track attendance increasing by 11.3 per cent; and
- the introduction of the first ever Ready to Race Sale held at Lords Raceway, Bendigo on 24 November 2012
GRV has indicated, following its positive financial returns, that $9 million will be added to its Infrastructure Reserve Fund.
This will allow for infrastructure upgrades to be brought forward with assistance from the Coalition Governmentâs Victorian Racing Industry Fund.
Dr Napthine said GRV and industry participants should be particularly congratulated for the their ongoing commitment to the broader.
âThe support for people with a disability through the Great Chase Series and for breast cancer research and the McGrath Foundation through the annual âGo the Pink Dogâ campaign is terrific,â Dr Napthine said.
As has been widely reported, greyhound racing stewards in at least two states have been sitting an numerous positives swab inquiries, mostly to elevated Testosterone levels.
Last month West Australian Racing and Wagering West Australia (RWWA) stewards handed Wayne Jacobson a nine month disqualification for what was considered “a high level” offence.
As if prompted in too action by today’s GRV RADB decision in to their leading trainer,New South Wales (GRNSW) stewards have finally formally announced the worst kept secret in ; Jason Mackay is to front the GRNSW stewards over several positive swabs to elevated Testosterone threshold levels.
GRNSW have advised that having “received advice from the accredited laboratories of the findings of levels of the testosterone metabolite 5beta-androstane-3alpha, 17beta-diol above the threshold concentration of 10 nanograms per millilitre in urine samples taken from four greyhounds trained by Jason Mackay at meetings in NSW in February and March this year.”
The reports concern the greyhounds Punch One Out and Sometimes Speedy, which raced at The Gardens on 15 February 2013, Yarramundi Flash from The Gardens on 22 February 2013 and Zipping Tess from the Wentworth Park meeting on 23 March 2013.
The Punch One Out and Sometimes Speedy positive swabs relate directly to the 2013 National Futurity Final when Mackay’s greyhounds finished first and second in the $75,000 to to the winner event.
The Zipping Tess positive swab originates from her win in a heat of the 2013 Ultra Sense series. Zipping Tess ran last in the final as a $6.60 third favourite.
According to GRNSW, the finding from the fourth Zipping Tess sample was only confirmed today. No explanation was forthcoming from GRNSW as to the reasons behind the seven month delay from race night swab to second “B” sample confirmation.
Mackay has been notified of the findings and an inquiry into the analysts reports will be conducted at the offices of GRNSW on Tuesday 12th November 2013.
Victoria have today advised that Victorian Hall Of Fame greyhound trainer Graeme Bate has been handed an effective nine month disqualification for returning an elevated Testosterone level in one of his greyhounds.
Following advice from Racing Analytical Services Laboratory, the Stewards ofVictoria conducted an investigation into the results of a pre race urine sample taken from greyhound âGunda Baleâ at the Geelong Club meeting held on Thursday, 28 March 2013.
During the investigation, Stewards heard evidence from registered trainer Mr. Graeme Bate, Mr. Joe Briffa (Registered Trainer), Paul Zahra (Racing Analytical Services Laboratory) and Dr. Steven Karamatic (Industry Veterinary Officer), Dr. Alastair Smith (Veterinary Surgeon at Sandown Veterinary Clinic) and Mr. Tony Vandenberg (General Manager of Compliance and Governance at the National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia).
After considering the evidence, Stewards charged Mr. Bate with a breach of Greyhounds Australasia Rule 83(2) and (3) in that he did fail to present the greyhound âGunda Baleâ free of any prohibited substance for an event at the GeelongClub meeting held on Thursday, 28 March 2013 given that the pre race urine sample taken from the greyhound indicated the presence of the prohibited substance 5Î˛-ANDROSTANE-3Îą, 17Î˛-DIOL at a mass concentration greater than 10 ng/mL.
Under Rule 47.1 of theVictoria Local Rules this constituted a Serious Offence. As a result, on Monday, 14 October 2013 the matter was heard before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in the first instance under Greyhound Local Racing Rule 47.3 and Sections 83C(b) and 83M(1) of the Racing Act.
Mr. Graeme Bate was represented by Mr. Phillip Boulton SC who was instructed by Mr. Vincent Murphy Solicitor.
Mr. Paul Holdenson QC with Mr. Chris Winneke represented theVictoria Stewards Panel instructed by Corrs Chambers Westgarth Solicitors.
Mr. Bate pleaded guilty to the charge.
After hearing all the evidence tendered and having regard to GAR83 (6), the RADB determined that Mr. Bate was guilty as charged and disqualified him for 12 months (with 3 months of this disqualification suspended pending no further breach of GAR83 during this period) effective from midnight Wednesday, 23 October 2013.
Acting under GAR83(4), the RADB also disqualified âGunda Baleâ from Event 7 â City of Greater Geelong Mixed 4/5 – at the GeelongClub meeting held on Thursday, 28 March 2013 and amended the placings accordingly.
Graeme Bate spoke within the wake of today’s decision and was “naturally very disappointed and a bit taken aback” by the sentence. But it was the severity of the nine month disqualification which shocked the leading trainer, “I was expecting something, but I was not expecting that” said a despondent Bate.
Bate intends to appeal the decision with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). He will be seeking a stay of proceedings from VCAT and GRV Stewards to allow him to continuing training until the VCAT appeal ruling can be decided upon. That VCAT hearing is expected to be heard and finalised within four to six weeks.
In recent years Bate has had what many believe to be a lucky run with positive swabs, having never been disqualified despite return a positive swab to Morphine in 2002, two positive swabs to Procaine in 2009 and 2010, and a positive swab to Diclofenac (an NSAID) in 2011. Those recent positive swabs have cost Bate an SA Derby and a Darwin Cup victory.
Graeme Bate’s Recent Positive Swabs
Ironically, Bate was instrumental in a research project started in 2005 by Greyhounds Australasia (GA), Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL), the Australian Greyhound Veterinary Association (AGVA), andVictoria (GRV) which helped establish the current Testosterone threshold levels in bitches.
Paltry rewards to players led to the formation of Kerry Packerâs World Series Cricket in 1977, with coloured clothing and drop-in wickets, much to the horror of the sportâs establishments, which fought to the death to retain their dominant positions, notably in the UK and Australia. More recently, the Board of Control of Cricket in India has exercised massive influence over anything involving its national teams, including media coverage.
Gideon Haigh, leading cricket commentator at The Australian (Oct 5), cut to the nub of it when he pointed out how national sporting bosses ânever lose their hankering to controlâ, particularly in India but also now in Australia.
He identified a shift occurring from âone in which they held the game in trust on behalf of its public, to one in which they seek to own the game and sell it to âcricket consumersâ. They are on the wrong track, he says, when âthe mildest aspersion is construed as talking down the productâ and perpetrators told to toe the line. Coincidentally, that is the basis of Racing Queenslandâs so-called marketing effort at the moment.
Itâs not a problem, claims Haigh; âcricket will not perish if it doesnât control every message and monetise every product for the sake of its income streams; (however), cricket will suffer if its public starts losing a sense that the game is theirs, and theyâre simply being sold something they thought they owned.â
Can we learn from those thoughts?Â Consider how the public gets it greyhound news today.
1.Â Â Â Â Â Â From state and national authorities and the Greyhound Recorder, which are invariably good news stories or âlook what nice things we have just doneâ.Â These are the same people who got it so badly wrong onand NT bookies, originally telling us we should have nothing to do with them.
2.Â Â Â Â Â Â From the national dailies, but only when something really nasty happens and warrants banner headlines. Normally, two of the biggest â The Australian and The Age â contain absolutely nothing about greyhounds. No news, no fields, no form, no results.
3.Â Â Â Â Â Â From the codeâs two independent news sources – australianracinggreyhound.com (free) and National Tabform (by subscription).
It is, of course, also a chicken and egg problem. If the general public are not very interested in greyhounds or just donât like the breed, they will not be looking for news anyway. Yet to reverse that trend, and to try to get them interested, we need to do stuff that attracts them. At the moment, pretty much all we have are SKY pictures and racing radio broadcasts, which are relevant only to those who are looking in the first place. Itâs called preaching to the converted.
(I might also advise GRV to save its money as you have to be really alert to note when the Watchdogâscome up on SKY and, even then, there is no time to make a note of them. The same goes for the celebrity at major events, most of which appear as the dogs are going into the boxes. Having said that, both are better than the amazing selections that appear under the Skyform banner. Stick to the pictures, fellas).
Certainly, we know that displays at agricultural shows, retired greyhound programs and occasionaltie-ins are successful as far as they go. WA has done well with shopping centre promotions in the past, while SA is pretty aggressive on radio. Then Uncle Ben used to run a âdog caravanâ around the traps which kids loved. But no more.
However, without the continuity that is essential to sell a brand, a product, a sport â whatever you want to call it – nothing will sink in. Whether itâs PR or advertising, in todayâs competitive world, promoting anything has to be national, full-on and continuous to succeed.
We have a national body, Greyhounds Australasia, which theoretically is in a position to develop programs to spread the word but it does not see that as part of its charter. In fact, sometimes it is even worse than that.
For example, the chairmanâs address to the Racing Ministerâs Council not long ago told them that everything was fine and dandy, thanks. He ignored the massive trends occurring in betting â falling betting pools, declining field quality and a declining base of genuine customer â and in breeding where the numbers of Dogs Named and Litters have been flat or falling for the last decade.
He also ignored the desperate need to tell them about the potential of a national betting pool, which would benefit greyhounds far more than the other codes. That would be a commercial matter, you see, and GAL does not go there.
Indeed, as of this moment, the latest statistics published by GAL are for 2011, due either to its own failure or that of member states to send in their figures. Either way, there is no news there, is there?
Consequently, by default, âcontrolâ devolves to the individual states, all of which have their own way of doing things. Few make substantial attempts to taketo the general public and none of their activities are co-ordinated. Personal experience tells me that a couple never even bother to attend to their correspondence, that they may act badly to criticism, and that they rarely seek outside advice. (Three states, WA, SA and Queensland, have conducted inquiries of one sort or another in recent years, and solicited public submissions, yet none has published the eventual reports, let alone responded to contributors. The SA one is ongoing, though, but it addressed only trainers in any case).
The broad outcome is that the greyhound breed, the most central aspect of the sport, is often poorly regarded. In turn, that means that prospective owners or punters become harder to find and enthuse. The most obvious symptom of that is the continuing decline in serious punter numbers and their replacement by mug gamblers. Only the latter would take much interest in the tiny, erratic pools and poor fields on offer, themselves a function of the badly overcrowded racing programs we see today.
In short, the great racers and the top personalities are unknown to the public, leaving them nothing to cheer about. The rare exception â Miata, for example, in company with Black Caviar â simply proves the rule as she was an outstanding PR success, albeit primarily in only two states, WA and Victoria. Without their champions, the blokes in the street will be half-hearted at best in following.
The starting points? Well, two matters stand out.
First, we need a massive national campaign to educate the public about the quality of the greyhound breed, its purity, its long history and its gentle nature. How to pay for it? Chops bits off the prize money here and there. It will return dividends in the long run.
Second, national betting pools are a must. They will not only help the code but also put more cash in state Treasurersâ pockets as more and bigger punters return to the fold. Win-win.
There are other needs but they will flow from these two and can wait.
The challenge for our âboards of controlâ is to recognise what might happen in the near future when no more slots are left in the racing programs and, even if there were, extra races would simply split the same cash more thinly amongst them, and further prompt more competitors to be drawn from the bottom of the barrel.
In reality, we have already exhausted quantitative devices, so only qualitative improvements are left to exploit.
Kerry Packer, an inveterate punter, would have known what to do. Still, James owns half of Betfair so he might take an interest.
Continuing our series on suggested changes to racing rules, here are a few more to go with those we wrote about on October 3rd (Items 1, 2 and 3). These are partly rules as such and partly recommended practices. Indeed, the latter group could well be built up by Greyhounds Australasia as a permanent guide to authorities and clubs around the nation.
There are many subjects where research and intelligence could be gathered professionally and then released for the benefit of all (as with drug treatments). For example, one we have mentioned previously is the use of the finish-on lure. Far too much of that discussion has been emotional rather than analytical and so the industry has gained little from it.
(4) Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder
One of the most important reviews we need is of rug colours. Too often they are hard to distinguish, one from the other. They are fine if the dogs are right in front of you, or the rugs are laid out on the boardroom table, but not when you are in the crowd on a wet and windy night and itâs hard to see what is happening over in the back straight.
Viewing on SKY is no better, and is sometimes worse due to long distances, starts in the back straight, poor camera quality, awkward camera angles or poor lighting.
Here are the clashes.
- (a) Red (1) and Pink (8) are OK when the two dogs are together, but not when they are apart. Itâs worse when the rugs are getting old (much like the eyes of many viewers). Even synthetic fabric wears out.
- (b) Checks (2), White (3) and Green and White stripes (9) are not easy to sort out at a distance, especially when the dogs using them are white, black and white, or black.
- (c) Blue (4) and Green (6) have the same problem as 1 and 8. Sitting together they are fine but in poor light you are never sure. Lighting can play tricks, too.
- One employee, a senior manager was found to have placed 4,409 bets over a three year period totalling $508,705 dollars during WORK TIME. Remarkably, when identified by the ombudsman, this employeeâs contract was not torn up nor were they marched out of the building in disgrace. They were issued with a first and final warning and in the months that followed they were given a $10,000 bonus and a pay rise. Eventually this employee left the GRV in March 2012.
- Then CEO John Stephens admitted to betting on greyhound races during work time
- 11 GRV staff were found to have been involved in betting during work hours including stewards: of these 11 people – 3 stewards were terminated, 1 received a first and final warning, 1 form analyst resigned, 1 form analyst was given a first and final warning, 2 graders were terminated, 2 senior managers given first and final warnings, and 1 data operator given a first and final warning.
- How can GRV staff assure participants that they are acting in a professional manner and with integrity to everyone? They have their own interests to consider.
- GRV would continually award contracts without the correct procedures being followed â staff including then CEO would use the same contractors for personal developments. This presents further integrity issues â we need to ensure that tenders are being awarded fairly â and in align with what the industry expects.
- The ombudsmanâs report highlighted that GRV staff failed to correctly record gifts and benefits. Whilst receiving gifts and benefits is not necessarily illegal â what is received needs to be recorded and be transparent â which is wasnât. This leads to allegations of corruption and other concerns regarding integrity.
- GRV would use corporate credit cards and funds to pay for a number of non-core business related expenses such as alcohol. Public servants have faced criminal prosecution for this type of activity.
- Staff found in breach of GRV policy by betting on greyhound races during work time were given a âgolden handshake.â GRV informed the industry that their positions where terminated. This again raises integrity issues.
- Staff employment conditions stipulated the use of work email and internet based programs. Staff were able to access betting sites during their shifts to place bets on races including . Emails sent to one another also contained content of a pornographic and explicit nature â again in breach of policy.
3. The Tender Processes and Practices of GRV
4. GRV lack of gift and hospitality declarations
5. Hospitality Expenditure
6. Staff were given termination payments
7. Staff use of email system
The ombudsman report identified a number of issues involvingin Victoria â some of which are still on-going and have not been adequately addressed. The report has identified a number of issues that affect all state authorities. Changes have occurred in Victoria and they needed to. We need to ensure that this keeps occurring â both here and throughout Australia. Everybody needs to read the ombudsmanâs report â changes needs to occur and integrity needs to be maintained.
The Australian Greyhound industry and the punting public need to have complete trust in those entrusted with the role of overseeing it. State authorities need to show that they are doing all they can to ensure integrity and transparency. Continuing on from our swabbing story last week â letâs take a further look at some other issues. There are countless others and everyone needs to raise their concerns.
GRV staff identified by the ombudsman are still employed by GRV. One questions how this can ensure integrity if some of these persons are still in charge of overseeing theindustry? If they have been found responsible of breaching GRV policies, then they were responsible for unethical behaviour. How can they still be employed in these positions?
One concern is the seeding of greyhounds into races. In blatant terms one could consider this a true example of race fixing. By seeding greyhounds, stewards are attempting to shape the fields and influence the outcome of a race. Of course in, things happen during a race, so why do we need greyhounds to be seeded? This is a quick fix that would improve transparency and integrity. No more greyhounds seeded into races, concerns addressed. Allegations that race fixing occurs disappears.
Box draws are a unique issues. It is all well and good to say that they are conducted by a computer. However computers can be programed to produce particular results under given circumstances. The fairest way to draw a race, and box draws is by the banjo system â which should be recorded or displayed online to ensure transparency and fairness to all.
The ombudsman report touched on the surface of an organisation failing to be managed in a manner that was expected of it by the industry that supported it. It was an unethical organisation.
Furthermore â the ombudsman report touched on the surface where the industry needs to dig deeper. The investigation needed to delve into the phone records of GRV staff and stewards identified in the investigation. Confidence and transparency needs to be built. When people entrusted with the administration of this industry are placing substantial bets of races it begs the question, âTo what extent are these people prepared to go to ensure they reap a benefit (reward) from their investment?â Letâs remember, it was these same people who were responsible for grading dogs into the races, seeding dogs into field and the box draw. They were also responsible for deciding which dogs were subjected to the swabbing process during a meeting.
By comparing betting records with telephone checks, investigators may be able to identify a particular pattern of bets between GRV staff and trainers. Was there any communication that would help identify a particular pattern? Can we conduct this inquiry to negate the risk that any trainers were involved?
Investigations need to be made to ensure that these issues didnât occur and indeed are not currently occurring. A formal inquiry should be conducted by experience investigators with sufficient experience and knowledge within the racing industry to ensure that these issues and more are completely investigated. This may require commission of inquiry powers to ensure such an investigation is successful. The persons identified in this report oversee the integrity of the industry, they are judge jury and executioner.
Similarly the process of determining which dogs are swabbed at a meeting needs to be overhauled. If officials have placed substantial bets on a particular dog and the trainer is made aware that the dog will not be subject of a swab, than the officials bet had a greater likelihood of success. The ombudsmanâs investigation did not delve deeply enough into the activities of those persons involved. Similarly, where were the offenders managers in this process, what role did they play and why did their supervision not detect this activity?
How do we stop this? While not saying that it does occur, letâs prove that it doesnât. Dogs that are to be swabbed on race night should be drawn randomly and in the public spectrum for all to see. All race winners should be swabbed. All swab results need to be published.
These are just five issues of many that need to be urgently addressed. The industry needs leadership and governance by corporate business professionals. Integrity needs to be built and participants need confidence that those in charge are doing everything they can to level the playing field. Victoria in particular would benefit from a Commission of Inquiry, and those that do the wrong thing are in turn held suitably accountable for their actions. These small few canât be allowed to damage the industry for all involved. Queensland has begun its Commission of Inquiry and industry participants are eagerly anticipating the findings.
The ombudsmanâs report touched on the surface concerns about GRV â but the findings relate to each state authority. We raised some issues â a few of many – and you are encouraged to raise your issues and concerns. Again, there is no proof that this has happened â but letâs eliminate any suggestion that it has, or it is currently occurring.
The question of drugs in sport is taking on a bizarre look. As we pointed out on 29 July – Itâs Not a Secret, So Letâs Tell Everybody – âHuman and veterinary science has also been developing rapidly, with commercial outfits all seeking an edge, so exotic combinations are the order of the day. And what they add to muscle mass â is that good or bad? Their impacts are uncertain and debatable in respect to performance, as a couple of football clubs are finding out at the momentâ.
We are none the wiser about goings on at Essendon Football Club, other than that after months of hassles no players have been pinged for taking banned drugs. Four club officials have been told to front the AFL Commission, yet as pointed out by author Michael Sexton (The Australian, 16 Aug), failures by officials are âof no obvious concern of ASADAâ as their brief is to keep track of players alone.
At the moment, it has all the hallmarks of ASADA and the AFL hierarchy trying to justify their existence, while the rights of individuals are under some strain. Time will tell.
The only reason any of this could happen at all is because the AFL and ARL accepted the ASADA supervision, mostly because a rejection would result in loss of Commonwealth funds. Legal blackmail, that is, albeit for a nominally good cause. Otherwise, Canberra has no constitutional power over sporting activities, including racing. (Remember that a few years ago big raceclubs and state racing authorities were frantically asking the Feds to stop online bookies and betting exchanges using the internet to take bets, however the consultants who conducted an inquiry and the (Coalition) government said it had no such power).
Both football organisations already had in-house systems which could also have done the job. Indeed, the fact that ASADA has so far found no problems indicates those systems must have been doing reasonably.
The debate over whether the drug AOD-9604 was banned or not at the time is still not finished, nor is there any indication of its helpfulness to a footballer, or any sportsman. ASADA has now banned it (reasons uncertain), but the club doctor says he would not have used it anyway, except in very special medical circumstances for an injured player. Apparently, ASADA would stop that, too.
In any event, the power of ASADA is extraordinary, even questionable. It has big brother overtones. As Sexton says, âlegislative changes allow ASADA to require a person to provide documents or face a fine of $5,100 … even if it would incriminate the person producing it. ASADA can also require a person to attend an interview, with the same penalty for a refusal to answer. It would not, of course, be possible to apply this kind of regime to a person charged with a serious criminal offenceâ. All of which looks like overkill, particularly by the politicians who created that power in the first place.
For comparison, Sexton quotes the case in the US where âthe investigation that ended with suspensions being handed down to some of baseballâs most famous players was conducted entirely by Major League Baseballâ. And, in the US, baseball is part of the national culture, far more so than any code of football in this country. Congress looked into the issue but decided not to act.
Whatever the football outcomes, all we know so far is that no-one is very sure what drug has what effect, which is pretty much what we pointed out for greyhounds. Itâs also worth noting that the US has a significantly different attitude to some drugs used on horses or dogs, compared to those applying in Australia. Who is right and who is wrong?
Well, there is one other thing. Whatever the outcome, the original grandstanding by two Commonwealth Ministers and the Australian Crime Commission was grossly overdone, perhaps even wrong, on the evidence provided so far. There has not been the slightest hint of a crime being committed, nor has anyone, including the Essendon officials, been charged with a drug offence, so what got the ACC interested in the first place? The whole investigation seems to have been based on scanty knowledge of the effects or existence of the drugs concerned. Thatâs the sort of caper that the police get involved in every day, but they never proceed further without good evidence. It was hardly worth the massive press and TV coverage.
Frankly, whatever happens next, it warrants an investigation into the investigation.
Still, at least we will end up knowing a bit more about modern drugs which might help clarify the way greyhound administrations handle the subject in future.
MORE THAN JUST A NAME
What a joy it was to see GRV Chairman, Peter Caillard, describe the upcoming events at The Meadows as a âState of Originâ contest. Of course it is. The National âChampionshipsâ have never been that at all as many of the best in the country are left behind in order to give spots to inferior competitors. Itâs high time the name was changed.
Hereâs the question. Do the Championships resonate with the players and the public? Itâs important, of course, and the smaller states welcome the opportunity of taking part, even if they rarely do any good. But it hardly ranks with the Melbourne Cup or the Easter Egg and perhaps others. Thatâs what the industry says through its actions, including the relatively modest prize money it offers. Therefore, if it is not at the top it should not be called a championship, any more than useful gallopers should be called champions, as happens all too frequently.
But doeshave a culture? A good one, that is. Certainly, participants would feel it does, as their lives depend on it. Me, too. But I donât think we are rating with the public, except negatively on occasions. That needs attention.
State of Origin has enjoyed a mixed history. It used to be strong in state cricket, just as district cricket membership once depended on your residential address, but that has largely fizzled now. Despite its ups and downs, only Test cricket really touches a nerve these days. 20/20 matches are an entertainment option but not really part of cricket culture. Horse racing does benefit from the betting culture because it has long been part of the Australian way of life and people admire horses. The AFL tried SoO a few times but it never worked for them. Fans were too attached to their clubs and playersâ enthusiasm was variable, particularly at the end of a gruelling season. Only the ARLâs NSW v Queensland contest has succeeded and then how! It pulls in huge numbers of viewers everywhere, including from overseas, and even does well when they play the odd game in Melbourne. To the players and the fans, itâs a critical part of the culture, a genuine championship.
The staging of peak greyhound events and day to day promotion should be directed to building that culture. The public are not going to come to us, we have to take it to them. Do that and the rest becomes much easier.
Victorianenthusiasts are in for a treat with the Melbourne Association hosting the 2013 National Sprint and Distance Championship finals at The Meadows on Saturday 24 August.
Craig Ondarchie, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier and State Member for Northern Metropolitan Region said the event would showcase the cream of Victorian greyhounds taking on all challengers from across Australia.
A focus on the night, apart from the racing, will be the Great Gatsby themed Young Personsâ Marquee on the new terrace area. The marquee will feature a DJ and be hosted by two young racing personalities to help withon .
An entry package to the marquee will include finger food, entertainment and giveaways throughout the evening.
There will also be childrenâs activities throughout the evening including face painting, a jumping castle and showbag give-aways.
âThe Victorian Coalition Government is getting right behind this major national event at the Meadows by helping to put on a simply fantastic night of entertainment and other off-track activities,â Mr Ondarchie said.
âI encourage everyone, particularly those in Melbourneâs northern suburbs, to be at The Meadows on Saturday 24th august to cheer home the Vics against the interstate raiders.
âThe Meadows is a terrific venue to enjoy world-classaction with easy parking and some great spots to watch close up.â
The National Sprint and Distance Championship finals are rotated around Australia and thus only come to Melbourne every six years. Both the National Sprint Championship and the National Distance Championship carry first-prize money of $75,000. Hundreds of interstate participants are expected to come to Victoria for the finals and lead-up events.
Victoria Chairman, Peter Caillard said that GRV is proud to welcome the nationâs best greyhounds to The Meadows for the running of the National Sprint and Distance Championships.
âThis is a unique and prestigious series and the support of the State Government has been important in ensuring we provide the best possible event to showcase the sport of,â Mr Caillard said
âThe eyes of the nation will be on The Meadows on Saturday 24 August, with the series essentially being aâState of Originâ. The Victorian greyhounds will be the home-town favourites and weâll be cheering them home along with the big crowd on-course.â
The Cranbourne GRC held a bumper meeting on Wednesday night, with no less than four finals scattered throughout the twelve event card.
Race six was the cream of the finals crop, with the three-week GRV VBIS Maiden Series coming to a climax with a $7500 winners cheque attached. While Darren Irbyâs Watta Good Dee was to start favourite from box seven, it was the White and Brindle runner from box five that made it a one act affair. Miss Minta for local trainer Tricia Curtain was able to lead from Go-to-Whoa, never giving anything else a chance in a very impressive 30.64 performance.
Paying a handy $12.70 on the local TAB, the daughter of Pure Octane and Sound The Lee wasnât expected to put on such a bold showing after keeping her maiden status for the first 16 starts in her career. But in a case of peaking when it counts, Miss Minta put in her best effort at the best time, and after ten minor placings it was fitting that she found the top step of the podium.
Second in the race was another outsider in Dewana Cheque, who started the race as the $27.40 outsider. Similar to the winner, Matthew Dewanâs runner was also looking to break the duck in the final and considering it had never missed a place before, perhaps represented generous odds.
It was a rough race however, and several runners found trouble behind the speed. The margins in the race were inflated by the interference and those dogs with early pace were able to avoid any late charges.
Steven Clarkeâs duo of Hot Chilli Lankan and Jacko Lankan were both one of those hampered during the run, while Watta Good Dee was also never out of trouble and was towards the tail of the field all the way around.
On the contrary to the Maiden feature, the Awesome Lodge Restricted win final was a smoothly run affair. Carrying $2500 first prize with a $1000 GOBIS bonus, the field was made up of the very young and the far more experienced, which is often the appeal with this kind of race.
It was one of the younger runners who cut the tape on Wednesday night though, when race favourite Altolite lead all the way in 30.55. After returning from some metropolitan runs, Altolite obviously appreciated the drop in class and was the dominant greyhound for both the heat and the final.
Trained by John Coburn at Woodstock, this Mantra Lad pup now brings up her fifth win from twelve starts, and has already shown an affinity for the outside boxes, with wins from box six and seven over the past fortnight.
Galloping Rocky made the formline stack up by converting a second behind Altolite in the heat to a runners-up cheque a week later. Drawn the opposite side of the track in two, he had to endure a few knocks and bumps in the opening stages, but turned in an eye-catching run to finish two and a half lengths behind the winner.
Earlier in the night, two maiden qualifying finals opening up the meeting, with both winners coming from the Diamond Creek kennel of Raymond Shiells. Twisted Kaos was the first of those to salute, starting its career in a blaze of glory with a one-length win in 17.94. The son of Pure Octane and Twisted Teddy has taken a little time to get to an official race start, having already turned two in March.
Twenty mintues later and Sheills had made it two from two when Sports Novel won by a similar margin in 18.07. A littermate to Twisted Kaos, it too was having its first official race start, and a testament to owner Nicole Moresco who has been rewarded for her patience.
With only four dogs currently in work, it is a decent training performance to walk away with two winners from the Cranbourne meeting, while Raymondâs other two chasers Justinâs Dream and Oenjay Dancer have been very successful in metropolitan company.
Irelandâs Oyster for trainer Peter Franklin has claimed the $7000 VBIS Maiden Series final, holding off a number of challengers in a blanket finish. The three week series started at the Beckley Centre on the 14th of June with the complete set of 64 nominations, with four semi-finals leading up to the main event held on Friday.
Starting off his racing career in this series, Irelandâs Oyster came into the final with a perfect two-for-two record, with success on debut in 26.24, followed by a narrow win over Smooth Grin in 25.99 last week.
Starting from box four and at the short quote of $3.60, the black and white pup whelped in October 2011 was midfield early, but finished too powerfully for Bally Sleek and the rival from the semis, Smooth Grin. It what was to be an entertaining finish, six dogs finished within four lengths of the winner, with the time being a neat 26 seconds even.
Bred by Donna Sadler and owned by Barry Priest, Irelandâs Oyster is part of a Premier Fantasy x Mineola Grand litter that produced 11 pups, of which he is the first to grace the track.
Peter Franklinâs Moyston kennel is home to only a handful of racing stock at present, but with a talented chaser like Irelandâs Oyster, his name may be mentioned far more frequently in coming months.
While on the topic of Geelong, star N.S.W sprinter Transcend Time made an appearance in the fifth event on the card for new trainer Wayne Vassallo.
The mixed grade 4/5 event was expected to be a cakewalk for such a winner of over $100,000 and it proved to be just that. Starting $1.40 from the red box, Transcend Time never looked in any danger and chalked up win number 18 in the easiest of fashion. Time for the 460-metre race was a Best-Of-Night 25.69, with seven lengths being the official margin.
It should be interesting to see where the son of Bombastic Shiraz and Elite Oriental will go next, as there are no Group-standard provincial feature events in Victoria until the Shepparton Cup in September.
Speaking of Shepparton, they are one club affected by several changes to the GRV racing calendar that comes into affect this week. Wednesdays will see the biggest alteration, with Sheppartonâs Tier 3 meeting moving to a Thursday twilight spot and Warrnamboolâs full stake meeting sharing the stage with Sandown Park on a Thursday night.
Cranbourne will move into the vacated Wednesday night position, co-inciding with the existing Ballarat meeting, while the twilight spot has been deleted at this stage. Geelong is the other club to move days, with a Tier 3 meeting now being held on a Monday.
What it means is that there are now four meetings on a Thursday, with Warragul and Warrnambool likely to be shown on Sky Racing 2. Day/Morning meetings will occur Sunday through to Wednesday, with twilight meetings being held six days a week. Night racing will continue every night except Sundays.
The new schedule will take some getting used to, with most punters enjoying a routine over recent times, but there is still plenty to keep Victorian enthusiasts occupied this week, with several clubs conducted heats and finals for all classes and distances.
Ballarat with play centre stage with ladies on Tuesday with the Damsels Dash final, while Cranbourne is hosting a similar VBIS maiden series to the Geelong version mentioned above. Great Spartacus from the Brett Bravo kennel is appearing as a standout after a 30.36 win in its heat on debut.
It all crescendos with the McKenna Memorial heats on the metropolitan stage of Sandown Park this Thursday night.
Wow, the State of Origin certainly made a dent in race takings last Wednesday. Most places saw a drop of 20% to 30%. Punters returned at the end of the match but there was no way they could make up the lost ground. But what was interesting was this quote in The Australian from one of the losers.
“We were simply out-enthused at the start of the match,” said Queensland forward Sam Thaiday after the game. “NSW came out a million miles an hour and we couldn’t stick with them.”
Greyhounds are pretty much like football teams, arenât they? Those that get an early jump on their rivals have a huge advantage. Sure, the others may be able to make up some time but they have to be very good, very strong, or else the leader has to fade â something that is usually predictable for those who watch form carefully.
All of which makes sectional times vital in assessing your race â remembering, of course, that better dogs are more predictable from race to race.
Unfortunately, we are not getting enough help on this subject from clubs and/or racing authorities. In fact, the situation has been getting worse.
Except in Victoria, a shortage of sectional times is normal at many provincial tracks. Some provide nothing, some the leaderâs time only. And one-turn tracks are worse than the circles. However, recently we seem to have lost all sectionals from Gawler (400m) and Angle Park (388m), while Bulli, Maitland and the NSW Northern Rivers tracks vary from good to terrible, depending on the race distance. Tasmania says it is trying but its new system has yet to arrive, so we are stuck with leader-only times.
One curious thing in NSW is whether the authority knows more than it publishes. For example, the formguide for a recent 400m race at Richmond included a nice looking chart showing where each dog should be at the first marker. Yet a check of each of those runnersâ form revealed no sectional times at all, nor did our records list any in their careers. How could GRNSW possibly have constructed a detailed map? A wet finger, perhaps?
Another oddity for fans of todayâs Galaxy final at Tweed Heads is that the GRNSW results show no sectionals for the Saturday heats. If you want to check them, just go to the clubâs own website. It not only has the leadersâ sectional times but tells you exactly which dogs were responsible, which is more than most NSW provincial clubs do. (Simmerlyâs sectional, and its history, was pretty good but its overall time was spectacular).
Added to all this is the communication problem mentioned here previously where one state is unable to show times from another state. In some cases, particularly Queensland, they donât even try. The RQ local formguide failed to publish any sectionals for several Victorian runners in last Thursdayâs 710m Gold Cup heats. Nor does it show running numbers, whether at home or from interstate, which makes it hard to assess how dogs conduct their races.
Anyone who wants more customers, particularly fresh ones, needs to reach an acceptable level of consistency and professionalism in supplying data. We are a long way from doing that.
The subject probably goes deeper. Is this a reflection of the various authoritiesâ attitudes to customers in general? That same Queensland formguide guarantees only three runs per dog, which is nowhere near enough, and less than any other state except Tasmania provides. But you may get a fourth (but no more) if the dog has had recent runs on the track. If it hasnât, you get an ancient run shown which is often not relevant to the current race (the Greyhound Recorder has a similar habit). NSW makes it hard for punters to access its official formguides because they are so long (35 pages per 10-race meeting) and you cannot readily print them out or download them – at least not without losing valuable information such as box numbers. SA and Tasmania have now joined the same camp so they inherit the problem, too.
But go deeper again. If they are making like difficult for punters in this way, what can you look for in terms of marketing and promotion in general? Pretty much all we see are occasional tie-ins withorganisations such as the recent examples of Cystic Fibrosis and Responsible Gambling. Thatâs all very nice but it is the sort of thing that you add to your marketing campaign. Itâs not a marketing campaign in itself, itâs just good public relations.
A national campaign to pushwould be a good start. Professionally done, of course.
BUT BACK TO SANDOWN
On that subject of early positions, a survey of Thursday meetings this year at Sandown, using GRV records, reveals that 90% of all winners were in the first three at the turn, with 10% starting further back.
Early Position % Of Winners Led 57.5 2nd 18.9 3rd 13.5 Other 10
In other words, more than half of all races might as well have been 300m jump-outs, which defeats the purpose of tough 500m racing.
The next question is whether this trend is due to the ability of the dogs or the nature of the track. Everyone wants a smart beginner so breeding, rearing and training are geared to that aim. Yet it simply is not the way some dogs like to race even though they may be good gallopers in the open. They prefer to warm up and then come thundering home, a trait which can thrill the crowd. Like Xylia Allen, perhaps? (For those who are interested, according to various websites, Xylia as a girl’s name is pronounced ZYE-lee-ah. It is of Greek origin, and the meaning of Xylia is “woodland; wood-dweller”, or âof the woodlandâ. It is also a genus of legume in the Fabaceae family).
Anyway, to do that, they need to be able to stay in reasonable contact with the leaders and that is often made harder by the track layout. A rough first turn, especially on a bend start, can put paid to those hopes. Clearly, on the above figures, Sandown is not helpful there.
This is one reason why I have been mentioning the number of blowout dividends for First Fours at Sandown. They are a good proxy for the measurement of interference. Too many early bumps allow bolters to get up into the placings. Typically, three or four dividends at each Sandown meeting exceed $1,000, and many are over $2,000, which is way too high.
As for second sectional times â they wonât help a bit; the deed has already been done by then. Ditto for run home times, even if you know what dog ran them, and often you wonât.
Do you like being confused?
Are you sick of things being straight forward and enjoy the feeling of frustration?
Then the unique sport ofis for you. Welcome to a world where bureaucracy and red tape are prevalent and where poorly trained people would rather waste your time and tell you misinformation than assist you or lead you on the right path.
Presuming it will be mainly greyhound folk reading this, then I am making the assumption this sarcastic opening will strike some sort of familiarity. But in case it doesnât, then I say âgather around kiddiesâ and let me tell you the story of âOllieâ and his lovely dealings with the people that run our industry.
Ollie lives in South Australia, however his beloved racing-now-brood bitch has found a nice home with his trusty trainer in regional Victoria. A common scenario one would think, however that line of thought is questioned when Ollie decides he wants to breed a litter.
Being the first time Ollie has ventured into the breeding game, he rests in comfort knowing the trusty trainer is more than happy to spend the time and energy whelping and rearing, so it just comes down choosing a sire. After some careful decision making, one is chosen, but with the sire based in Victoria (as so many are) the vial gets transferred to the trainers preferred vet.
From there it seems like smooth sailing. Brood has the procedure, and nine weeks later, two happy, healthy black puppies are on the ground. Happy days.
However things seem strange when Ollie realises that not one bit of paper was signed, not one phone call, email or other received to register the litter with anyone. So Ollie takes the initiative, and calls GRV to investigate.
Once the GRV employee gathers some basic information, they advise that they have no record of the service taking place, and that they will askSouth Australia (GRSA) to contact him and get that information, as he is a registered person with them, not GRV.
After three days of no action, another call to GRV takes place, particularly wondering why GRSA need to be involved when everything relating to the litter happened across the border.
âOh thatâs not correctâ Ollie gets told by a different GRV employee. âGreyhounds Australasia supplies the service informationâ.
Interesting to get two pieces of different info from the same source isnât it? Regardless, GA receive the next call.
âWe are waiting for paperwork from when the breeding unit was bought. Usually the vet collects that and passes it on, so you may want to chase it up with themâ. GA explain.
They could have offered to do it for him, but nonetheless Ollie scrounges through the receipts to find the trainersâ vetsâ number and phone call number four takes place.
âWe only get a copy of that information and we never pass anything on to GA.â He is told. âYou were supposed to obtain an original copy of the transfer-of-ownership form provided by the stud master, and then submit it GA immediately.â
It is at this point in time Ollie realises this has become a debacle. Five phone calls to four different offices have resulted in Ollie being misled not once, but twice, and now having to chase paperwork he didnât even know existed, for a service that occurred ten weeks ago, and only after he made an unprompted enquiry himself. One would think that somewhere along the line the breeder, the trusty trainer, GRV or maybe even GA would have lent some assistance and said âHey, do you know about this?â â Nope – Only a conversation with a veterinary receptionist made things clearer and allowed things to get back on track.
But if only that was the end of the debacle. Five days after finally lodging the correct form with GA, does the phone ring â itâs GRSA.
âWe require to know which sire has been purchased and where in S.A. the whelping will take place?â
They sounded less than impressed when Ollie told them the litter was already whelped entirely in Victoria one week earlier.
They sounded even less impressed when Ollie got a little mad once he received a SECOND phone call from GRSA two days later, asking the same thing!
So the tally is now up to five phone calls made, two calls received and all for a process that was meant to occur nearly three months ago. What an easy thing this greyhound game isâŚ
Remember kiddies, these bodies are apparently designed to support the industryâs participants. So letâs see how many new people will scramble to get involved when they read stories like mineâŚ. errâŚ I mean OllieâsâŚ and the hundreds more that Iâm sure exist out there.
For what itâs worth, I wonder if âRed Tape Runaroundâ will make a good racing name?
Bear in mind that 99% of people watching a race are not there in the flesh but looking at a SKY picture, often at night in varying types of artificial light, when impressions can be quite different (I well remember the old Penrith track where they once used blue coloured globes which made a complete mess of the colours).
I hesitate to offer alternatives here because that is a job that should be entrusted to a qualified colour consultant. However, itâs worth noting that Dayglo colours, although probably more expensive, can be dramatically effective. I saw an example once in a whippet race and the result was brilliant (it happened to be for the Yellow). In todayâs mix, Dayglo Green and Pink would also be a big help. If itâs good enough for road workers and lollipop ladies, itâs good enough for greyhounds.
GAL has already swapped the dirty Brown for a more satisfactory Green but it needs to go much further.
In passing, note thathas a potentially big advantage over the other two racing codes where only a few regulars can easily identify jockey or driver colours. We should press home that advantage.
Note: America has neither Black and White Checks or Pink rugs and the 8 dog uses Green and White stripes. Europe has no Pink but does have Orange.
(5) No Rule but one Needed
Regularly we are seeing dogs backup quickly â many only two or three days after their previous race. Rarely does this policy show dividends, which is not surprising considering standard veterinary advice about recovery times for the average dog.
But dumping these conundrums on unsuspecting punters is not a good policy. How will they ever know if the dog is up to such a task? You canât tell just by looking.
Imposing limits of at least 5 days between runs for sprinters and 7 days for stayers is a must. The dogs will probably thank you for it as well.
(6) Try First, then Buy
In one of its few progressive changes, GRNSW introduced a requirement for budding maidens to first complete an official trial before entering a real race. This was an excellent move because it gives punters a rough idea of how the dog might perform. Unfortunately, the practice has not been copied elsewhere.
In some cases, a specific event may require pre-qualification but it is not routine across the country. It should be.
Probably the most worrying are the premium Victorian age events â the Laurels and the Sapphire â where both unraced dogs and maidens are allowed into the heats. How can you tell if the dog is any good or not? Will it figure in the finish, run nowhere or just mess up the other runners? There is no way of telling.
A blanket ban across the country will fix the problem
Otherwise â The Staying Caper
GRV news has highlighted comments from breeder Geoff Collins about the rising prominence of American blood amongst our stayers. Fair enough, too. However, letâs go not overboard about the performances of the current lot of top distance dogs, including the examples quoted of Lucy Wires and Destini Warrior. (That also goes for Proven Impala, which does not quite seem to be at its best over the longer trip, notwithstanding its one brilliant 42.01 run at Wentworth Park, or for Irma Bale, which runs out of puff at around 650m).
For a start, they lack sufficient consistency to be in the top ranks. Nor have any of them run great times in recent months. Typically, the better races are won in times eight to ten lengths outside the track record. Good on any of them that might win Group races but you also have to consider what they beat â ie generally fair to average dogs which tend to plod rather than stay, or spear out, lead, then fade. Itâs a far cry from there to the quality of todayâs sprinters.
In any event, in class terms, Smart Valentino would be well ahead of the Victorian group although it, too, has to get away in the first half of the field to really sparkle. But it is a genuine stayer.
Simultaneously, GRV is pushing its program to encourage more stayers by offering bonus prize money at provincial tracks for everything from 570m to 680m. This is puzzling on two grounds.
First, they are flat out getting full fields for these races. Five, six and seven runners are more typical, suggesting that few trainers believe they have dogs capable of even middle distance trips.
Second, the dogs they do get are nothing to shout about. Many are there only because they canât compete well over shorter trips. Results are often erratic. Flow-on to success over city 700s is rare. And, once again, performances are erratic if they do get there.
NSW has similar programs and results are much the same as in Victoria.
Which brings me back to a point that needs more emphasis. Throwing cash on the table is not much use unless you have the cards to back it up. Much better to go down the Geoff Collins road and seek out means of improving the breed. Funds would be better allocated to carefully selected sires or strains (whatever they might be) which have more chance of throwing up dogs that can get the longer trip. That would not happen overnight but it would offer much better odds of success in the long term.
How much are national racing rules worth? Here is how Greyhounds Australasia explains it.
âR6Â Â In the event of the application of the Local Rules of a Controlling Body other than GreyhoundsÂ Australasia Rules, the Local Rules of the Controlling Body shall apply and form part of these Rules.â
This tells us that national rules donât mean a thing if any one state has another idea. The NSW local rules alone take up over 100 pages. Is there a point to all this? Do we really need these multiple variations?
It hardly resembles a federation of states. It may not be drawing too long a bow to say it reminds you of Afghani warlords ruling with an iron fist over their own fiefdoms while paying lip service to the national parliament in Kabul.
Meanwhile, back to the task. We have some suggestions.
(1) Fighting, as it was once known
Last Mondayâs item about 600m bend starts finished off with a comment about fighters â the politically correct term is âmarringâ, which is actually an incorrect use of the English languageÂ â and the absence of genuine penalties for offenders. However, there is more.
If the stewards spot a fighter, the worst that can happen is that the dog is outed for 28 days at the track in question, providing it is a first offence.Â This is completely illogical as it means the dog can nip down the road and race again as soon as it likes and offend again. It further implies that somehow the track caused the problem yet never has any evidence ever been produced to support that view. Perhaps the dog is naturally belligerent, perhaps it was irritated by a minor injury, or perhaps it just didnât feel good that day.
Either way, itâs the trainerâs job to sort it out so a major consideration would surely be that it really needs a short holiday away from racing. Commonsense suggests he should apply the penalty himself.
I once suggested to GAL that the Rules should be adjusted so that they made no distinction between fighting and failing to chase. The grounds there was that it was often difficult to distinguish between them but that fighting, in any event, automatically involved FTC. You canât have one without the other. GAL did eventually combine the two rules into one. Now it should go two steps further.
First, the 28 day penalty should apply at all tracks. It is no help to anyone, including the dog, to restrict it to a single track, which is hardly a penalty anyway.
Second, and more important, fighters should never be able to pick up prize money. They should be disqualified from the race, not just suspended from racing, and the prize money should go to others. To do less is to insult the victim (or even cause a brawl behind the boxes). That decision should be made promptly, prior to declaring correct weight, and punters paid on the corrected placings.
By doing that,not only achieves natural justice but it also brings it into line with every other type of racing, horse or human. For like offences, athletes get thrown out, pacers get relegated or disqualified, and so do gallopers. Immediately. This is precisely why racing has a pause before calling correct weight.
The grapevine tells me that previous GAL consideration of such a change failed because stewards were said not to have time to consider the question properly. This is nonsense. They do most of the job anyway right after the race, just as they did at Sandown last Thursday. The objection that offenders have the right of appeal is irrelevant. You cannot argue against an obvious fact â ie fighting another dog â which was established by an expert with film to back him up, usually with the trainer in attendance and in agreement. You may argue about the reasons for the offence but that would affect only the ultimate penalty, and does not alter the act itself.
(2) Better Boxing, Better Racing
Next to think about is Rule 22, which governs which box is occupied by a reserve when a vacancy occurs. It is supposedly a national rule but each state is able to, and does, do its own thing. Letâs leave aside the question of choosing either first-out, first-in, or a ballot for a single empty box. Thatâs not too vital. What we should have is a rule change, in the event of two vacancies and only one reserve, which requires authorities to allocate the best box for good racing purposes.
So, if 1 and 5 are empty, then the reserve should go into 1, never into 5. That follows the existing rule for allocating boxes for a field of fewer than 8. This would not be a gigantic move, but it is a necessary one.
Next time we will want to talk about Rules covering rug colours
Everyone is talking about Gold Townâs love affair with Wentworth Park. True enough, but could it be because it has to get down lower in the NSW boxes than in those at Melbourne city tracks? I also note that Victorian visitors often get out quickly in Sydney but the reverse is not so common.
Should the dogâs viewing aperture be made the same all around the country? There is no Rule for that; itâs a matter of local opinion, which is always a risky way to go.
Anyone relying on the official formguide for the SA Cup heats tonight (as produced by GRNSW) will find some official Angle Park trial times and general sectional data are missing for Victorian dogs.
For example, for Powerhouse sectionals, GRNSW says âNo Data Availableâ. Never mind, we suggest going to the GRV or GWA website to get this information on individual dogs. In this case, my own records show 33 separate sectional times for this dog in both Victoria and WA (or 34 including its trial at Angle Park).
Other Victorian-based dogs will have similar gaps. This is getting to be a national disgrace!
There is no end to the story of sectional times. Publicity inhas not only led to the recovery of Casino 411m sectionals on the GRNSW website but also to the return of Grafton 407m and Lismore 420m times. They have all suddenly re-appeared in the last week. Great stuff! Thank you.
Of course, none of them have got around to detailing which dog was responsible for these times so we still have to guess there. Still, itâs a lot better than Bulli (none at the moment) or Maitland (leaders only, whoever they are). The shorter races at some circle tracks can also be a problem.
Meanwhile, despite several requests, Tasmania (which means Racing Services Tasmania) is continuing its ridiculous practice of assigning the best sectional to the winner in every race â regardless of whether it led or not. GRNSW results (on behalf of Tasmania) simply repeat the information without checking. This means that national records, or those in any other state, will end up copying this misinformation in future formguides and punters will be none the wiser. Simultaneously, the actual leader will get no credit. This is data corruption at its worst. How crazy can you get?
Looking objectively at this situation, itâs hard to come to any other conclusion than that the NSW system and the culture are just not geared to looking after customers as a group. Tasmania and Queensland are no better. So we have NSW battling a parliamentary inquiry, Queenslandâs previous administration under fire in the courts, the current one making no attempt to gain customers, and all three states in need of cash to fund needed improvements, or even to survive. The two sets of circumstances may not be coincidental.
The NSW formguide history is instructive. When NSW decided to upgrade its system a few years ago (and later take over deFax) it hired a Canberra-based consultancy to do the job. Surveys forms went out to many people on the GRNSW email list and they were later asked to comment on draft versions. No doubt the majority of those respondents would have been trainers.
I did not make it onto the consultantâs list even though I had a registered email address at GRNSW and probably used Australian formguides as much as anybody in the country.Â No matter, I heard about the task and asked to be included.
Unfortunately, although the consultants were said to be âexpertsâ in racing, their actions suggested otherwise. For a start, they called a simple list of runners a âformguideâ option. They also said strange things in correspondence with me.
In the event, out came the new guide looking more like an entry for an art prize than a practical document for punters. It still is. This is not unusual, in my own experience, amongst website designers who are besotted with flowery presentations which add nothing and do no more than slow down their passage through the internet. Protests were ignored.
Consequently, todayâs product contains a good deal of information that would be better offered via separate query (see the WA guide for an excellent example), extra space is taken up by colourful backgrounds and heading blocks while the font used for essential information â like formlines â is far too small for easy reading and hopeless in poor light.Â In short, it is too long and it is not user friendly. And it will never fit in your back pocket.
Maybe the heavy influence of trainer comment, or non-comment, was influential. Yet, over decades of involvement in racing I have noted it is rare to find a trainer that actuallyusesÂ a formguide. Certainly, they read them but they donât try to study or massage the information as a serious punter might. And do they print out the vast quantities of paper each meeting requires? I doubt it.
On top of that, it is impossible to obtain computer-readable data from GRNSW, even for race results, as is true in Victoria. GRNSW has purposely stopped that happening. The fact that we still canât find out which dogs ran the sectional times further emphasises that defensive attitude.
Anyway, not only was the consultant failing to consider the needs of genuine customers, but so was GRNSW ignoring the potential to increase its influence and attract more business by putting out a competitive product that people could really use. Thatâs the real waste. Itâs a management problem.
The solution? Dump the existing formguide and start again, using GRV or National Tabform versions as examples. Make the states tell each other about sectional times. And start talking to customers.
I suggested the Nationals might be a bit mucky, and so it turned out. Tomac Bale did well in the Sprint but cleaned up Zulu Zeus and Sheâs All Class on the way to the turn, leaving Xylia Allen with an easier run thru after her usual average jump. She did not need a second chance. This is a powerful bitch over 500m to 600m although hard to catch for punters.
Some folk, including the stewards, had doubts about Destini Warriorâs fitness before the start of the Distance race but the trainer and the vet said he was fine and he ran his usual sort of race, jumping well but never really putting his foot down to charge ahead. He is, and always has been, a fair average stayer, no more. The only surprise was that home town bias caused the GRV Watchdog to put him in as top selection, ahead of the better performed Smart Valentino. The NSW dog, with a slow start, made a bit of a meal of it but got there in the end. As expected, WA runner Magpie Bob led for quite a way but the final 42.83 winning time reflected the difference in class between this field and events gone by. Only Smart Valentino himself will ever be capable of much better than that.
In both these cases, the winners are top gallopers but their ability to get out of the box will always make their fortunes problematical. Itâs the difference between very good dogs and champions.
However, the prices were funny. For two days prior to the race Tabcorp and all the NT bookies postedshowing Destini Warrior with a clear edge over Smart Valentino. That changed only on the night when common sense prevailed on the tote and Smart Valentino came in strongly. Overall, these very conservative operators were offering books of 130% upwards, which is nice for them but not for punters. They under-rated Smart Valentino while Kalden Mayhem was put up everywhere at the ridiculously short price of $7 or $8. They might like him in SA but his form justified no better than 100/1 and he finished last, albeit with a slight injury. However, he did blow out to $20 at the end.
Conversely, Tasmanian Lashing Jill, a neat and consistent railer, was way over the odds at $40 or more. Prices for the other two Victorians, Mimicking and Set Sail South, both moderate beginners, failed to reflect the difficulty of coming over from outside boxes at The Meadows. They did strike interference but that is normal from out there.
Of course, in both races, the inbuilt bias of The Meadows layout comes to the fore. You need to rail, you need an inside box or you need to jump very well, or you need a great deal of luck.
In the end, Xylia Allen got more luck than she had in the local run-off. A look at the Sprint finish photo shows the most spread out lot I can remember ever seeing in a major race. Smart Valentino was simply a much better dog than the others, doing especially well considering it had not even trialled on the track and arrived in Melbourne only the night before. Expect better next time, and perhaps better management.
What does this add to our knowledge of the betting sector? It adds more questions, actually. Why are all these guys posting almost identical prices? And how do they work them out anyway? There were no practical reasons for the above peculiarities. Is this the tea lady at work? And where are the real bookmakers? Where is the competition driving down the percentages? Essentially, they were having a lend of us.
And good luck to the lucky/shrewd punters who got the First Four prizes in the Distance event â $887 and $1,982 in NSW and Victoria respectively. Thatâs amazing, considering the favourite won and the second favourite ran fourth. However, it also suggests more Victorian bias towards Destini Warrior.
Some help from Tabcorp saw First Four pools of over $80k for each main race in Victoria and they were quite healthy in NSW, too. However, what happened to the $100,000 pools guaranteed by the same Tabcorp for the two big races?
Finally, here are two suggestions about these multi-state contests. If they do not have local experience, starters should be required to trial on the track so that the public can have more confidence in the likely outcomes. In fact, why not make that compulsory for all Group events? Four Distance starters and two Sprint starters were short in this respect.
Secondly, the local GRV formguides again failed to show sectional times for interstate runners, even though the information had been published by their home states. This is unacceptable. It reflects the sloppy and parochial nature of data exchanges between states. This has been going on for years and it is high time it was fixed. After all, we are a âNationalâ industry.
I might add the local GRV practice of using the Silverlight program to display videos is a messy one. Many systems cannot handle it properly, including mine. No other state uses it but unfortunately GRV has a habit of using oddball programs â see their annual reports, for example, which are extremely awkward to read. Similarly, when they âupgradedâ their website I was forced to go out and buy a new and wider monitor to fit it all in (likewise with Tabcorp). No other websites in the world demanded this of me. If you are talking to the public you should concentrate on what the average user needs, not those with all the newfangled gadgets.
Since they are informative, we are repeating here the Victorian stewardsâ reports on the two races.
âTomac Bale was quick to begin. Innisplain Jet was slow to begin. Tomac Bale crossed to the rail approaching the first turn checking Zulu Zeus, Rumbling Rick, Hope’s Up and Innisplain Jet and causing She’s All Class to fall. Hope’s Up and Innisplain Jet collided entering the back straight and on the third turn checking Hope’s Up. Zulu Zeus and Paw Licking collided approaching the home turn and on the home turn checking Paw Licking. She’s All Class was vetted following the event. It was reported that there was no apparent injury foundâ
âStewards interviewed Mr. E. Rinnaldi, the trainer of Destini Fireball, regarding the condition of the greyhound following a 7 day stand down period imposed at The Meadows on Saturday 17th August (expired Friday 23rd August). Mr Rinnaldi confirmed with stewards that the greyhound was 100% fit to race and he expected a forward showing tonight. Furthermore, the greyhound was vetted during kenneling as per normal procedure. A public announcement was made at The Meadows detailing this information.
Destini Fireball and Magpie Bob were quick to begin. Mimicking was slow to begin. Kalden Mayhem, Mimicking and Set Sail South collided soon after the start causing Mimicking to stumble. Destini Fireball and Wag Tail collided on the first turn. Lashing Jill and Set Sail South collided on the third turn and approaching the fourth turn checking both greyhounds.
Kalden Mayhem was vetted following event 7. It was reported that the greyhound sustained an injury to it’s (sic) right calf. A 5 day stand down period was imposed. Mimicking was vetted following the event. It was reported that the greyhound sustained an injury to it’s (sic) left shoulder and left triceps. A 7 day stand down period was imposedâ.
PUNTING IS NEVER EASY
The trials and tribulations of racing! In a 596m final last Friday at Geelong, the first three dogs started at $32, $40 and $27 on the NSW tote. Is that a record for a highly graded race? The Trifecta paid $4,210 and the First Four jackpotted but would have been worth $2,655 in NSW, more in Victoria. Three quite well performed dogs â Two Tree Hill, Quo Vadis and Czar â left behind popular racers like Proven Impala and Boris Fields.
Geelong is a newly-built track yet the 596m trip has a bend start. Nuff said.
It’s taken the best part of 6 months, but the statutory body that controls GRNSW has a massive positive swab issue.in New South Wales has finally formally acknowledged the worst kept secret in the industry –
Even the Newcastle Herald managed to put the point in print before GRNSW even hinted there was a growing dilemma. This is even more condemning when you consider that GRNSW are habitual “tweeters”, have a borderline addiction to sharing on ; and employ a growing list of journalists/media and marketing types. The channels of communication for them are many and varied.
The silence from those bestowed with the integrity and governance of the industry surrounding the issue has been deafening. Jason Mackay had to publicly “give up” his colleagues to emphasise the fact that he isn’t the only leading trainer waiting on their regulatory body to drag itself up by the bootstraps and deal with the issue.
Even Mackay wasn’t sure of the numbers involved citing “maybe 30 or 40 trainers” waiting for authorities to get their integrity “house in order”. But those numbers, as devastating as they are; could be even larger given there is currently a national epidemic of positive swabs – (an issue we will deal with in another analysis).
A few months ago, whenran the numbers across in New South Wales, there were over 42 outstanding swabs that had not been reported as clear in New South Wales alone- some of them went right back to late 2012. Some may have been administration or “clerical” errors, but it was safe to say that there was more going on than “the new girl” not knowing how to do her job.
In GRNSW’s defence, the only reason we were able to run that analysis was that GRNSW do report when swab results “clear”. Somewhat obliquely though, they fail to report a swab anomaly. It is left to the user to “assume” an unreported clear swab has an irregularity. Surely commonsense and good governance dictates that it would cause less innuendo and “betting ring gossip” to be upfront and report the issue? But this is the modern reality of greyhounds racing’s version of “transparency”.
As dark as this would appear to be for those in New South Wales, GRNSW are light years ahead ofVictoria (GRV).
It should come as no surprise that the regulatory body that runs subject of an Racing Integrity Ombudsman inquiry in to their lack of governance and gambling employees, will only make mention of a swab being taken in a stewards report of a race meeting. Nothing is ever mentioned of the swab again. Its value as information for the public just evaporates in to the ether.in Victoria don’t even report the swabs they take in a format anyone could digest. The same group who were the
Unless the swab is positive, and then the job of joining the dots falls at the feet of the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board (RADB). The RADB will report a positive swab inquiry outcome, although often months after the initial incident. Apparently nothing noteworthy occurs in the intervening period between a swab being taken, and inquiry report being finalised.
It wasn’t that long ago that GRV did not even report its integrity issues online. Believe it or not, GRV sought to hide integrity issues from wider public scrutiny until 2010. It’s only the last few years that these results can be found online. GRNSW through its predecessor, GHRRA; had been publishing these results online since the early 2000′s. A fact that is hard to reconcile when the GRV once trumpeted itself as the leading greyhound body in Australia with regard to Information Technology (IT).
Disappointingly, Racing Queensland and Racing Tasmania both follow the Victorian trend of only reporting swab issues after the outcome of the inquiry.
South Australia (GRSA) and Racing And Wagering West Australia (RWWA) who are often maligned in industry circles, actually lead the industry in integrity and transparency with regard to stewards inquiries and positive swabs. They both publish and release notifications when swab irregularities arise, and then keep the interested public informed as the process evolves.
If you’re waiting for the same from GRNSW – they sometimes report a swab anomaly, sometimes they don’t. The mere fact some are reported and others not only serves to further industry speculation and fuels a perception of “rules for some”. When GRNSW do choose to report swab irregularities, it is usually only days before the inquiry is set to take place; a date which is often months after the fact.
And what of Victoria? Well you might as well be living in a world before the pre-industrial age. It’s as if an information vacuum the equivalent of Steven King’s dome has descended over theheadquarters. There will be no information forthcoming at all until after the RADB hearing is held; and then it can take weeks to months for that information to be relayed to the public. Presumably the pigeon struggles under the weight of the message it is delivering.
Given the constant spiel from the million dollar marketing machines of our regulatory bodies, morphing modest achievements and occasional complete fails into stunningly digestible and palatable media “bites”, there will always be a need for commentary and analysis uninfluenced by the spell of our statutory bodies.
From time to timeand its writers have themselves been maligned for not providing a “sugar & candy” analysis and coverage of Australian . The bare facts, the potential pitfalls, and the reality of some unsavoury incidents and issues has the capacity to become too much to bear for some.
While our regulatory bodies seek to hide from the transparency the industry deserves; and while they continue to put marketing concerns ahead of integrity issues; there will always be a need for an independent coverage of.
“Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth” – Albert Einstein.
In 2012 the Victorian Ombudsman produced a report in relation to the integrity of Ombudsman’s Integrity Report.Victoria. The report, titled Victorian Ombudsman â Own Motion Investigation into Victoria June 2012 â is available in full on-line and makes for interesting reading. Unfortunately most participants probably have never heard of the report. Most wonât have read it. Everybody needs to :
The report highlighted the actions of those entrusted to run our great sport â their unprofessionalism and their actions that boarded on corruption.
The 7 main points are highlighted below â the report identified:
1. GRV staff were betting on greyhound races during work hours including those in integrity-related positions.
2. GRV staff owned greyhounds â this presents integrity issues