Londonderry trainer Majella Ferguson is on the comeback from a quiet few months in the training department, with a small kennel that is certainly proving to be a case of quality over quantity.
Exciting prospect Cyclone Simone has made an instant impression since returning to the track earlier this month- winning two from two and taking her record to three from five overall. The daughter of champion sire Bombastic Shiraz was bred by Ferguson out of her highly talented racebitch Smashing Amy.
Smashing Amy was owned by Fergusonâs family and won fifteen races throughout her career, including the NSW Distance Championship at Wentworth Park, after which she represented the state in the National final at Perth. Although she didnât emerge from the series as a winner, Smashing Amy was no doubt talented- something which she has passed onto her progeny.
Aside from Cyclone Simone, the litter also includes the brilliant middle distance dynamo Bookkeeper. Bookkeeper stole the Topgun limelight momentarily over the weekend when he broke Nellie Noodlesâ 34.07s track record over the 600 metre trip at The Meadows, clocking a scintillating 34.05s in a heat of the Group 1 Hume Cup.
âShe was fast as a sprinter and fast as a stayer. She was a little bit moody but she was really goodâ, Ferguson explained of her former star, Smashing Amy.
âShe was a really good bitch. We bred the six of them at home, but we had a lot of pups at the time. We had Irreplaceableâs pups so we actually sold all of themâ
âThe people that own her, Ben and Wayne Carey, are friends of mine and she is their first dog. They are really nice people, they bought her as a pup and they let us rear her and do everything- she got broken-in and then came straight back to us”
It has not been a smooth introduction to racing for the first-time owners. While Cyclone Simone clearly has an abundance of talent, as is all too common with fast greyhounds, she has been plagued by injury problems for much of her career.
âItâs been really hard because they knew that they had a good dogâ, Ferguson said.
âShe has been a nightmare injury wise. She started off good but then she kept doing her pinsâ
âShe is three next February- she was really late starting. When we got her coming back last time we changed all her training- people were saying donât put her up the straight because she has done her pins, so we were thinking how do we get her fit?â
âWe put her around the circle but that wasnât doing any good so we decided to free gallop her in the paddock every day for about six weeks before we brought her backâ
Cyclone Simone debuted at The Gardens in July, defeating the highly talented Premier Mozz in a slick 29.85s. The black bitch was luckless in her next start at the track before finishing fourth at Dapto at her third track appearance. After this, she was trialled post-to-post at Wentworth Park and was then nominated for her first start at headquarters.
âYou wouldnât believe it- we had her ready and we were going to put her in at Wenty and she chased a duck in the let-out yard and ran straight into the fenceâ
Cyclone Simone returned to the track just under two weeks ago at Maitland, recording a slick 25.36s (BON) over the 450 metre trip. She then ventured back to Dapto, scoring in a heat of a 1-2 wins series by seven and a half lengths in a fast 29.78s.
The pint-sized powerhouse will return to Dapto tomorrow for the final; however she faces a much tougher challenge from box five. Despite being the only runner in the field to break the 30-second barrier at the track, the undefeated Rain Bale for Simon Rhodes is lining up from box seven and looks to have plenty of talent of her own.
Ferguson is hopeful of a good result from the lightly raced bitch and gives her a good chance despite the draw
âShe goes nice early and if she finds the front sheâll be winning, but this race is a little bit tricky because she had the two the other day and the one box was vacant, so it was a big advantage- but she does go niceâ
âHer first split was good but I notice that there are a couple of dogs in it that have got a couple of nice splits- that one of Simon Rhodes (Rain Bale) goes alright but at least it is drawn on her outsideâ
âI donât think the five will worry her because I was watching her the other day- after she came out she sort of moved out to the centre of the track a little bitâ.
All going well, Ferguson would like to target some feature events with Cyclone Simone in the future. Despite being lightly raced, because she is almost three, Cyclone Simone has missed many of the age restricted seriesâ and will subsequently have to compete in open class
âWe might have a look at The Gardens or possibly something like the Soldiers Saddle at Bathurst. Because she is that little bit late starting she misses things like the Laurels and a few of those age races- she missed the Vic Peters. She is very new to racing realistically, but she should be able to race on and I think she has a pretty bright future because she does go nice and as you can see when she leads she is fairly strongâ
Cyclone Simone is not the only exciting prospect in Fergusonâs kennel at present. Knocka Norris youngster Bleiswijk Billy is developing a handy little record for himself with three wins and a second from four starts at Maitland. The white greyhound got down to 25.43s at his last effort at the showground- indicating that he has some ability too.
The consistent Electro Storm has been flying the flag for the Ferguson kennels at Wentworth Park recently- clocking two blistering wins in 29.69s and 29.83s respectively before finding trouble at his last three starts. The son of Bit Chili is a classy customer and is sure to be back on the winnerâs list in upcoming weeks.
Possibly most exciting of all is the resilient Unexplained who is on the comeback from injury. The Whereâs Pedro â Stylish Scene dog has only had three trials since he started making his comeback, but broke the Richmond track record at his most recent preparation run- clocking a breathtaking 22.21s over the 400 metres
âUnexplained actually broke the track record at Richmond after the last on Wednesday. He has torn both hips- he did the first one and then we brought him back and he won at Ballarat and then he tore the second one in Melbourne, but he appears to have come back bigger and better than everâ
âHis run home was sensational over 400-it was just beyond belief. Thatâs the best he has ever gone there. He is possibly going to go to Melbourne or to Hobart- we are thinking the Ballarat Cup or the Hobart Thousand with himâ.
âHe has been a great dog and he is a fast dog- a very fast dogâ.
Ferguson also has high hopes for the final Stylish Scene litter by Brett Lee. The pups are half brothers and sisters to Unexplained and full relations to Group winners Irreplaceable and Dazzle You
âWe are very excited about our Brett Lee- Stylish Scene litter- it is her last litter and they are eleven months oldâ
âThey are the nicest pups I have ever seen.Â It has been amazing what she has thrown. She had eleven pups in her first litter (x Brett Lee)- they all won, there was six city winners and two group winnersâ.
Four of the nationâs best greyhounds were announced tonight as the starters in the Group 3 Shootout to be held at Sandown on Thursday 7th November 2013. The $50,000 to the winner event may not have the standard eight dog field, but it is certain to be just as exciting.
The first runner to be announced was the exhilarating Xylia Allen for Avalon trainer Jenny Hunt. The black bitch, formerly trained by Graeme Bate, is arguably the best bitch in Australia after her terrific wins in the Group 1 Sapphire Crown, the Group 1 Peter Mosman Classic and the Group 1 National Sprint Championship. The daughter of Turanza Bale and Tayah Bale has been racing at the top level for the majority of the career and has amassed 18 wins and 17 minor placings from 45 career starts. The recent Group 1 Topgun placegetter has won over $400,000 in prizemoney and, with her glistening record, was virtually guaranteed a spot in the race from the moment that she was nominated.
The second runner announced was WA champion Dyna Nalin. The Paul Stuart-trained powerhouse notched up his second Group 1 win over the weekend when taking out the Sky Racing Topgun from the awkward box eight. The Perth Cup hero is a model of consistency having won 26 races from 40 starts and should provide an exciting match for fellow backmarker, Xylia Allen, as we find out which is the strongest chaser of the iron pair.
Dual track record holder Punch One Out was the third competitor to gain a start in the Shootout. The Queensland bitch is an absolute freak as shown by her scintillating track records at both Wentworth Park (29.27s) and Richmond (29.90s) and will definitely take some wearing down if she lands on the bunny. After racing against the nationâs elite sprinters in numerous group and feature races, the daughter of Knocka Norris and Little Egyptian was finally rewarded with a deserved Group trophy for her efforts earlier this month when she took out the Group 3 Gold Coast Cup at Albion Park. With the right credentials to her name, Punch One Out was a fitting runner to line up in the race.
Banjo Boy may be the new kid on the block but he is undoubtedly transforming into the king of Sandown. The Vee Man Vane two year old is yet to crack through for a feature win at the top level, however some of his times would rival some of the greatest greyhounds we have seen grace the racetrack. Banjo Boy will go into the race with a hatrick of wins at his last three starts- two of which have been at Sandown- one of which was in a blistering 29.01s. With just 20 starts to his name, he has untapped potential and is a strong contender for the title.
The reserves for the field will be the Troy Iwanyk- prepared Crump (first reserve) and Jason Thompsonâs breathtaking youngster Phenomenal (second reserve)
The all-important box draw will be conducted this Thursday night.
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.
Itâs happened before and it will happen again. The selective nonsense pumped out by the ABC 7:30 program on greyhound practices does nobody any good, including the ABC and its shoddy journalism. Unfortunately, the subject will rear its head once again when the inquiry by the Greens/Shooters alliance in the NSW parliament gets up a head of steam later in the year.
But itâs not much good protesting now. The milk has been spilt. However, note that virtually none of the mainstream media bothered to pick it up, as they did for the announcement of the equally poorly-based political inquiry nearly two months ago. Clearly, they regarded the program as half-baked and old hat. Even so, the anti-greyhound groups jumped at the chance to push their biased and often inaccurate viewpoints. They donât seem to realise that greyhounds actually like to race â itâs in their DNA â just as humans like to compete on the golf course or the football field.
Indeed, the RSPCA, supposedly experts in the field, should be pointing that out.
But why did it occur in the first place? It seems some bright spark in the ABC hit upon the idea on a slow news day, perhaps prompted by some personal feelings about the greyhound. Itâs not unusual for the ABC to create its own agenda and then look for the means to support it â any means will do.
But that is always going to be a possibility. The real key is that the idea, and the TV presentation, fell on poorly prepared ground. Poorly prepared, that is, by the state racing authorities as well as Greyhounds Australasia, which tend to concentrate on insiders rather than the public.
While the ABC is notorious for its slanted views, it would have had little background information to guide it in this case. What it did get from officials was after the event and largely put to one side because it did not fit its theme. Sadly, public support for the greyhound breed andis minimal, largely because they do not understand what it is all about. Too many industry insiders â many of whom were rightly offended by the program â fail to realise that this is how the real world works.
The vast majority of publicity about greyhounds always has been nasty â dating from the days of live hare coursing and later re-inforced by periodic stories about drugs, injuries and the like. Ironically, the codeâs attack on drug use has been arguably its greatest single advance over the years, and its biggest success, even by comparison with other sports. Yet the general public does not know that.
The good news is that this is fixable. Not by pumping out media releases after the damage has been done but by educating and informing the public beforehand. Not with a quickie effort but with a continuing program to establish and maintain a positive image of the breed, its long history, its unique purity and its athletic prowess.
That is the responsibility of greyhound boards and managements everywhere. Itâs their first responsibility, really. But they are not carrying it out. They are clearly not able to bring to bear the commercial, marketing and PR skills required. Besides that, they operate as individual fiefdoms and the only national body â Greyhounds Australasia â it noted more for what it does not do than what it does. Too often, greyhound authorities are hired or appointed as administrators, not modern business managers. Bureaucracies are all very fine and necessary things â and we need them,too – but they are no good at flogging stuff. They do not move with the times but simply react to them â as we have seen again here (which also explains why greyhound organisational structures have not changed over the past 50 years or so).
If that capacity is lacking then the industry must go outside to employ it. What is needed is an ongoing contract with a skilled PR/Marketing organisation to develop and push a national campaign to provide all that missing information, to demonstrate to the public all the positive aspects of the business, and to ensure that media people have easy access to data, ideas, concepts and contacts should they need it.
The code is now paying out around $100 million a year in stake money. To fund the contract it needs to take out 1% of that cash and invest it in the future. Thatâs about $15 out of the average prize. That would not only ensure the code is seen in a better light but it would undoubtedly return serious dividends over time as more people seeas an attractive recreation â whether as owners, trainers or punters, or even as workers. That sort of outcome will never be achieved by accident. It has to be built.
All states must put their shoulder to the wheel. Assign responsibility for the project to somebody with commercial nous and let them get on with it. Authorities need only to set it up, fund it and support it.
Something the ABC Missed
Marvellous to see old stager Burnt Fuse – 4 years 8 months – rack up its 37thÂ win from 97 starts at Ballarat, running a best-of-night 22.27 in doing it. And an equally smart 30.43 at Cranbourne by Rockadore at 4 years 2 months.
There should be more Veterans races in other states. They are all win-win, especially for owners. They would also do no harm to the industry image, given the nonsense being pushed at the moment by the ABC and so-called animal lovers, who come out of the woodwork on these occasions.
With an energetic national program organised, the opportunity would be there to tie it in with Masters series in other sports, just as the Miata-Black Caviar association returned huge dividends. The stories would be endless.
Go for it!
Smart chaser Hellyeah Bolt (Dyna Lachlan â Flash Diamond) is likely to be favourite for the rich Minister’s Gift Final (461 metres) to be conducted at Thursday night’s HGRC meeting at Tattersalls Park in Hobart.
The lightly raced Paul Hili prepared, Hellyeahowned chaser is the winner of eight of 14 lifetime outings, including a recent Angle Park victory and can boast a Tattersalls Park pb of 25.75 for the journey.
Despite having succumbed to the Mick Stringer prepared Club Foot ( Mogambo â Von’s Angel) in last Tuesday’s qualifying heat at the Devonport Raceway when he was inconvenienced, Hellyeah Bolt is expected to bounce back and prove to be the testing material on Thursday night.
The Mangalore based Stringer will be represented by both Club Foot and Orange Boy ( Aston Galilee â Patsy Anne) in the Minister’s Gift and although very happy with their condition, has great respect for Hellyeah Bolt.
âHe is a class act and if able to obtain a clear run is obviously the greyhound to beat, but in saying that I am not conceding defeat,â he explained.
âI would have liked to draw wider with Orange Boy, but he is racing very well and Club Foot is not crashing down to the rail like he was, in fact they have both matured and will give a great sight.â
âIf either of them are in front of Hellyeah Bolt when the field settles, believe me they will take plenty of running down.â
The astute Stringer is no stranger to Minister’s Gift success, having won the annual feature last year with the the very good Bearville Phil ( Give Me Five â Von’s Angel).
Meanwhile fellow Mangalore mentor Allan Anderson is not overjoyed at the prospect of Lashing Illusion (Lilli Pilli Lad â Illusion), the winner of eight of 28 lifetime outings, attempting to win the Minister’s Gift from the red box.
âThe inside box at Tattersalls Park does not appear to be as advantageous as it is at either of the other two Tasmanian tracks,â he explained.
âI would have preferred drawing elsewhere with Lashing Illusion, but then she is racing well and cannot be excluded from the winning chances.
âIt is a very hot field and I rate Hellyeah Bolt and Club Foot, which is well drawn, as the main dangers.â
Anderson is currently enjoying a great run of success with his team, but has received a bad report about his kennel star Lashing Jill ( Lilli Pilli Lad â Illusion), which at her most recent run in August rocketed home for third placing behind Smart Valentino in the National Distance Championship.
âShe remained in Victoria after the Distance Championship, but I am told that she was injured in a trial and will probably not race again,â he explained.
âI believe that she will be returning to my kennel next week, but what the future holds for her I am not sure.â
MINISTER’S GIFT (461 Metres) 1st $10,000 2nd $2,850 3rd $1,430 4th $130
- Lashing Illusion (Allan Anderson)
- Palooka (Neville Allison)
- Pipstar (Robin Grubb)
- Orange Boy (Mick Stringer)
- Hellyeah Bolt (Paul Hili)
- Blinking Becky (Paul Hili)
- Club Foot (Mick Stringer)
- Black Bessie (Ian Callinan)
- Molly’s Legacy (Noelene Garwood) Em 1
- Sentry Duty (Mick Stringer) Em 2
Banjup trainer John Carmody is Western Australiaâs very own charming Irishman. Unlike most, Carmody has two very special ladies that he can call his own- his wife Diane and sprinter Meroslava.
âWomen, they are incredible!â John Carmody confessed.
Meroslava will face one of her biggest challenges to date in the heats of the Group 2 All Stars Sprint at Cannington on Saturday night.
The red-fawn bitch by Did I Entertain out of Emzie has found herself up against Mandurah Cup winner Te Amo, National Sprint representative Rumbling Rick and talented chaser Sveta Monelli.
âI do think it is a very difficult heat she has drawn, it has lots of early pace.â
âI think box three is a good box for her in that field, but she will have to be on her toes to match this lot going down the straight to the first bend.â
âWhen she has won she has always lead and I canât really see her leading in this heat.â
John Carmody rates Linda Brittonâs duo, Rumbling Rick and Te Amo, as the dogs that pose the biggest challenge in his heat.
âTe Amo has a great chance, she is doing her best work at the moment,â
After an injury-induced spell on the sidelines, Rumbling Rick is making his return to the Cannington racetrack and Carmody believes that his time off wonât hinder his chances of taking out the heat.
âI think he will come into this pretty fresh and ready to rock and roll,â
âHe has the time on the board and is a proven big time performer.â
Minus one toe, Meroslava will have her work cut out for her. Early on in her career, the 30-kilo bitch fell victim to the Cannington racetrack, breaking her toe.
Carmody spent most of the night in tears because he was worried her racing career had come to a sudden end.
âWe went to the vet to have it x-rayed and it was in that many pieces it just couldn’t be put back together, so the decision was made to take the toe off.â
âItâs on her front foot, the first toe, so it puts pressure on the rest of them,â
âI think she has done extremely well to have won the races that she has won with that toe off, itâs the most important toe.â
Her more than pleasing efforts have seen her rein victory on 10 occasions and collect 10 minor placingâs from 32 starts.
Her biggest moment incame when she defeated WAâs fastest greyhound, On Coin, in the Westchase final.
Meroslava jumped quickly from box eight on that occasion and led the field all the way to the line. To add to the excitement she also recorded a personal best time of 30.46.
Both Diane and John Carmody could not believe their bitch had won the final, giving her little to no chance before the race.
âWe didnât give her the best chance with On Coin in the race, he is capable of running all sorts of times.â
âShe put the right foot forward that night,â
âI was quiet excited about it, really because she is a WA bred dog and I think we should all be trying to breed in WA.â
The decision to put Did I Entertain over Emzie was made after the dog made a short visit to Carmodyâs kennels.
âHe stopped with me for three weeks for the Nationals and I saw how much of a lovely temperament the dog had.â
âHe was a beautiful kennel dog,â
âHe is a brother to Bit Chili, a full brother in blood, but a later litter.â
âI had a good look at his form in New South Wales, he was a very well performed dog in Sydney but severely underrated,â
John Carmody believes he got everything he expected out of the Did I Entertain-Emzie litter.
âThey are all really nice kennel dogs. They donât even get off their beds when you bring the food in; they just wait until you put the dish on the floor.â
âThis (Meroslava) little girl is very close to me and she is a very good looking bitch with a beautiful temperament so she will not be parting from me.â
âShe is my pet really.â
Carmody has cut down to six race dogs in his kennel, the lowest number of dogs he has had in a decade. He believes age is catching up on him and he would also like to take a few more holidays.
âOld age slows you down a bit,â
âYou do have to realise that when you get to my age, youâre just not able to do the amount of dogs you were once able to do.â
Despite reducing his number of race dogs, Carmody wants to continue to breed with his bitch Emzie.
âI want to mate her to Kinloch Brae next.â
âThere are great wraps on Kinloch Brae, he is an American sire standing at stud in Ireland.â
Carmody recently brought two, five-month-old Kinloch Brae puppies. He is more then impressed with there get up and go attitude.
âI thought that he might add more fire in Emzies pups, so I will take the chance and go to Kinloch Brae.â
Carmody began training greyhounds the day that Cannington opened itâs gates. Although he took a break away from, his love for the game brought him back after two years.
âI have always loved the sport.â
Nothing would make Carmody happier than to see Meroslava lead this talented heat but, with a field of fast beginners, she is going to have to be at her best.
âI would have been confident in making the final if I had an easier heat but I think this a particularly good heat.â
âHer best time is down the back straight, if she can lead, she will pull away from them there, but she does weaken a bit running to the line,â
âIt has got so many good beginners in it, she is going to find it difficult.â
Being a competitive stayer is a tough gig for any greyhound. Having to chase hard around three bends for over 40 seconds, riding bumps and checks, relying on stamina more than sheer speed, is often too much for one animal to handle.
There are a select few however, who make a living out of this brutal caper, but even then, it is normally for a shortened time before a return to sprint trips beckon.
But for a dog to not only compete, but consistently win over the âhalf-mileâ trip on more than 100 occasions is the mark of a very special creature, hence the impressive legacy that South Australian stayer, Kalden Mayhem will leave behind.
Originally owned and trained by Dan Biddle in Western Australia, Kalden Mayhem is part of a super litter by Big Daddy Cool out of Abbadale Gold. In the early days, it was his Group winning littermates Kalden Athena and Pillow Torque that stole the limelight, making their names on the Eastern seaboard, while Mayhem stayed at home to pay his keep at Canningtonâs Saturday night fixture.
But in late 2010, Kalden Mayhem made a debut appearance at Angle Park over the 515 metres. Running 29.83 in an easy win, it would earmark the start of a marathon journey in the Festival State.
While the rest of the litter had peaked and eventually enjoyed retirement, Kalden Mayhem kept on keeping on, backing up week after week, seemingly without injury or form lapses, and over last three years has forged his name as the king of Angle Parkâs longest trip.
But on a run-of-the-mill Thursday night meeting at Angle Park, Kalden Mayhem entered the 731-metres boxes for the 37th time. As was so often the case, he would be sent out as favourite, expected to dispatch his rivals with his usual dominance. But this time the fire and flair had seemingly disappeared. The finishing burst that we had almost taken for granted just wasnât happening, and unable to match it with his much younger competitors, he finished a distant fifth without ever really challenging for a higher position.
Sky Channel viewers would soon learn it was to be his swansong, and so became a sombre end to a career that deserved much more fanfare, more recognition and more acknowledgment.
This is a greyhound whose career numbers wonât be matched in this state, nor any other, for a long time to come. 123 career starts, spanning 41 months, for a total of 58 wins , 12 seconds and 18 thirds. From those 58 victories, an amazing 23 of them were completed over the 731 metres of Angle Park at a strike rate of 64% with his final win being completed at four years and ten months of age.
Box draws were never an issue for the 31kg blue chaser, as he won from every box at least four times, with a combined total 26 wins coming from either the three of four alley.
Courtesy of two qualifications to the National Distance Championship (2011 & 2013), Kalden Mayhem made appearances at over ten different tracks and thirteen different distances, including Albion Park, Sandown, The Meadows, Cannington and Wentworth Park as well as every track in W.A and three tracks in S.A.
It all culminated in a total career purse of $196,000; a higher total than other recent greats of South Australian racing in Scull Murphy, Satanic Cash and Lion Hearted.
This is a chaser who did his job week in, week out, for longer and more consistently than anyone could have imagined. While he never managed to eclipse a Group race final, the Biddle and Murray households can rest assured that their man had shone through as the brightest star in a constellation litter.
There will no doubt be dogs in the future that dominate the staying ranks with arguably more talent, but if they do it in the fashion that Kalden Mayhem did, they deserve to be regarded as a true champion.
Well Done Kalden Mayhem on a fabulous career, and on behalf of all South Australian greyhound fans, thank you for providing us with memories of a truly unbreakable stayer.
The first greyhound meeting took place at Newcastle in 1927. A crowd estimated at 15,000 turned out to watch the spectacle of greyhounds chasing a mechanical lure. The inaugural Newcastle Cup was won by Sky Chimes.
Ada Yin, later to become a leading stayer around Wentworth Park, won a heatÂ andÂ final of what would be classed as a fifth grade event over 500 yards at Lithgow in 1949. It was not unusual to run heats and finals on the same meeting at many tracks up until the 1960s.
Lizrene won Radioâs Golden Anniversary Cup, a special event held in 1973. From box one the natural wide runner was hammered by Salala from box two. Lizrene regained her balance but was checked at the first turn. She stormed home at the finish to register one of her best wins.
Often underrated stayer High Intensity defeated the mighty Bold Trease by nine lengths over 716 metres at Sandown Park in 1987. High Intensity had also defeated Bold Trease the previous week.
The 1995 Canberra Cup final resulted in a dead-heat between Scholarâs Mate and Victorian sprinter Sandy Honcho.
Noted fast beginner Amethyst Queen held on to win the 1971 NSW Country Championship over 580 yards (530 metres) at Wentworth Park, equalling the race record of 31.3. On the same night, the Geoff Watt-trained Top Saba defeated Victorian stayer Bubbleâs Luck in the Sydney Cup final. That race saw equal favourite Roman Copy, from Victoria, run sixth, his first defeat in seven Sydney starts.
Sensational NSW sprinter Alpha Brava won the 1975 Gabba Sprint Championship) in a race record 32.70 over 558 metres at the Gabba. He defeated Queensland champ Coorparoo Flyer and fellow NSW sprinter Ungwilla Lad.
The 1976 Sydney Cup meeting was abandoned due to inclement weather, and the final was postponed for nine days. This is the only occasion the Sydney Cup has not been run as scheduled.
Reg Kayâs Queensland sprinter Size Can Matter travelled to New Zealand and took out the Platinum Paws over 520 metres at Addington in Christchurch in 2008. The race was worth a massive $119,000.
This Guy Moss and Margâs Fortune, both trained by John Brown, ran first and second in the 1975 Sydney Cup final. The margin was a mere three-quarters of a length, with Queensland representative Welcome Dee Anne just a nose away third.
The Robert Britton-trained Kulu Magic defeated Sky Hazzard and Flashing Floods to take out the 2007 Sir John Dillon Memorial.
Zoom Top broke the track record with a 43.2 success in the 1968 Sydney Cup final, defeating Victorian star Miram Miss by four lengths. Zoom Topâs litter sister, Busyâs Charm, was seventh.
The Geoff Watt-trained sprint star Benny McGrath won the 1972 Dapto Silver Collar by seven lengths, earning $750 for his connections.
Bold Trease broke the Australian record for the most prize money when he scored in track record time over 735 metres at Ballarat in 1988. Bold Trease took his earnings to $106,100, surpassing the previous mark set just 18 days earlier by NSW stayer Whip Tip.
Champion stayer Miss High Lo won the 1973 Sydney Cup by five lengths in a race record 42.88, breaking the record of 43.2 set by Zoom Top in 1968. She went on to win the 1974 Sydney Cup as well to become the only greyhound to have ever won the race twice.
Queensland champion Dancing Gamble became Australiaâs highest prize money winner when he scored a brilliant victory in the 1988 Coca Cola Cup (now known as the Brisbane Cup). His $25,000 first prize money took Dancing Gamble to $107,000, about $900 beyond the amount won by Bold Trease.
Toss The Teddy downed Scenic Cuba and Flying Amy to win the 1994 Brisbane Cup over 520 metres at Albion Park. Flying Amy would return the following year and win the Cup in race record time.
Local star Madonna Lee won the 1982 National Sprint Championship, run over 558 metres at the Gabba, from the Victorian pair of Tempix Image and Kid Campbell.
Star Title won the 1993 Brisbane Cup for NSW, the first running of the event over 520 metres at the new Albion Park circuit. He defeated Victorian Dallas Duo.
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.
The biggest surprise in last Thursdayâs Adelaide Cup was not that local star Ernie Bung Arrow won but that he paid more on the local tote than in NSW and Victoria – $4.20 versus $3.20 and $3.70. Patrons of âbest toteâ bookies wouldnât mind but where were those SA punters?
And the First Four paid twice as much on Tatts as on the other two totes, maybe partly due to a huge jackpot added to the pool. It ended up at an astonishing $52,400.
Considering the status of the event, the local Tatts Win pool amounted to a relatively modest $23,700, compared to $26,400 in NSW and $40,400 in Victoria. The influence of five Victorian dogs in the field would have helped here.
This bias is not accounted for by the differences in populations. Tattsbet is not only the home tote but its multi-state coverage puts atÂ its disposal almost as many people as Tabcorp NSW (6.6 million v 6.9 million) and more than Tabcorp Victoria until you add in the WA component in SuperTab (5.4 million or 7.6 million). Itâs a question of either the willingness of Tatts folk to bet or the less satisfactory nature of what Tatts is offering â eg generally smaller pools.
All of which is a terrific advertisement for the need for a national betting pool to smooth things out.
In the race, Ernie was the only dog to more or less match its heat sectional time â 4.35 compared to 4.38 – or its overall time (29.70 v 29.60). But the shape of the run was different. Ernie did not come out of the box as fast as it usually does yet still went like lightning to lead at the first turn. It was in no trouble after that. Some dog!
The unfortunate Farmor Las Vegas was in a great spot at the turn but failed to dodge Tomac Bale as it wandered off the rail and so suffered the consequences. Iona Seven just jumped badly this time, all of which gave Ronan Izmir a clear run into second spot. However, it is not the strongest at the end of the 500s and Tomac Bale hauled it in near the line to take second place.
No doubt the next question for Ernieâs connections will be how to attack the bigger events in neighbouring Victoria. The dog is not two years old yet so may well gain more strength with maturity. At the moment, there is a sneaking suspicion that it may well find the tougher trips at Sandown and The Meadows a bit challenging, especially the Top Gun. Perhaps the Victorian Cups circuit would be the go for a start.
An interesting sideline on Ernieâs performance is the way wide runners plot their course. Typically, we consider them to be left-side dominant, meaning they naturally push to the outside, rather than right-side dominant when they head for the rail. However, watching dogs like Ernie suggests that it is not so much the body make-up that causes this as it is that they want to be where they are most comfortable sighting the lure. Itâs a kind of mind over matter. Note that Ernie generally rails reasonably on the turns and it is only in the straights that he runs wide. This is even more evident when boxed inside, as he will then spring out immediately to the centre of the track.
Going back, multi-record holder Whisky Assassin had similar habits (but was no good at Angle Park), and so, too, that fine Queenslander, Questions, which won many of its races around Albion Park, a layout which is not kind to wide runners. Both these handled the turns pretty well. By comparison, you will hear little about dogs that stay wide everywhere because they cover so much extra ground that they are just not competitive.
The Bigger Picture
More generally, the fortunes of Tattsbet are not looking great. Its annual report for 2012/13 shows a drop of 4% on all racing turnover, including a loss of just on 10% for Queensland greyhound races. This is hardly a surprise, given the rise and rise of online bookies, the larger pools readily available in NSW and Victoria, and the absence of any impetus from the new guard at Racing Queensland.
Frankly, the Tatts Group will have to rely more and more on its other gambling ventures to support racing. But more critical is what will happen if the decline continues and some aspects of its racing coverage become so inefficient as to cause a reduction in service levels.
Racing authorities in Queensland, SA and Tasmania are hugely dependent on Tatts for their income so their boards should be doing some serious thinking about their future prospects.
Of course, other states will be facing comparable issues sooner or later. Tabcorp. like Tattsbet, is seeing a decline in traditional tote betting as punters migrate to the growingcategory, particularly at the gallops, and to online bookies, which appear to be taking over about a quarter of the total market.
All this is changing the old boundaries and introducing a degree of instability. The trends seem likely to continue, which may pose no immediate problem for the gallops and their big pools. Itâs a different story at the dogs where many pools have become too small for good punting, and are further confused by late betting habits. Even so, the TABs still provide the primary guidance for Fixed Odds pricing and for other betting operators.
But the market remains unbalanced. Online bookies are laughing all the way to the bank due to their lower cost levels and the huge margin between those costs and their payouts as governed by TAB dividends. Thatâs not likely to stop any time soon. The time will come â or maybe it is already here â when TABs have to think about cutting their own costs, including the part allocated to funding raceclubs, simply to remain competitive.
TABs warrant a premium in order to maintain the thousands of shopfronts across the nation, many of which are becoming more automated with touch screen terminals and simplified Mystery bet tickets. But even there they are paying minimal commissions while pub and club agencies rely on patrons buying more beer to make a profit. Efficiency is a mixed bag.
There is a parallel in the way big department stores once got away with big mark-ups on whitegoods and TVs, until the rapid growth of discount stores forced them to change tack. Nowadays, it doesnât take much to start up a discount store or an online bookmaking company â and thatâs whatâs happening.
Whatever, restructuring is on the march.
Other Signs of the Times
1.Â Â Â Â Â Â I note that Racing Radio in NSW totally ignored the Traralgon TAB meeting last Saturday week â no race broadcasts, no prices, no dividends. An overcrowded program? Do we need Radio 1 and Radio 2, just like SKY?
2.Â Â Â Â Â Â A social club with a huge membership and many thousands spent on TAB facilities over the years has shut down its night-time ticket counter from Sunday to Thursday, telling punters to use the touch-screen terminals instead. Other outlets are trending that way, too. This is a joint TAB/racing industry challenge.
3.Â Â Â Â Â Â At NSW Central Coast TAB outlets you could fire a shotgun after 9 pm and not hit anybody. They are either closed or the patrons have gone home. Some exceptions for Saturday nights.
4.Â Â Â Â Â Â Clashing football matches can quickly take the edge off racing turnover.
After making several major moves during his involvement within theindustry, former NSW trainer Glen Quirk appears to have found his niche in New Zealand. Based at Foxton, in the North Island, near Palmerston North, Quirk is enjoying a successful stint with his emerging team of chasers that are starting to make a name for themselves around their local tracks.
The 29 year old grew up on the Central Coast of NSW and started his adventure within the greyhound world when he was just out of school. Quirkâs first greyhound, Punk Rock Rebel, won three races and turned into a handy producer with her son Kevin Oh Seven the first reserve in the Group 1 National Derby won by Elite Blue Size.
âMe and my friends bought a dog from the Dapto Auction as a pup, but we had no idea what we were doing with it. I ended up getting William and Margaret Bright to give us a bit of help and they introduced me to Tony Riley and I ended up working with Tony for a couple of yearsâ, Quirk explained.
After trying his hand at training a few of his own chasers, Quirk then joined up with established mentor Mal Cuneo, before mixing it with some of the areaâs well-known identities as he was finding his spot within the sport. After briefly leaving the industry, Quirk returned and made his biggest move to the land of the long white cloud
âI ended up getting a job with Mal Cuneo and I worked with Mal for about six or seven months up at Cessnock and then I went off on my own again, working with my good friends Kayla and Corey Spliet and I was with them for a whileâ
âThen I gave up. I went and worked for the mines for about three months and I didnât like it at all. I got back into the dogs and Mal Cuneo got a job over here working as a trainer for Gary Harding in about 2008 and he asked if I wanted to come over and work for himâ.
âI came over here and worked here for a while. He and Mal had a kennel on the property and Karen Walsh also had a kennel on the property. I worked with Mal for a while and then I ended up working with Karenâs kennel and I was there for maybe twelve monthsâ.
Quirk then returned home to Australia, but only temporarily, before he was enticed back to New Zealand
âI went back at worked at Keinbah again, trained a few dogs myself for about nine months. Then Gary Harding had a job opening up over here again so I reapplied for the job. Then I worked for Karen for another two and a half yearsâ.
An incredible opportunity then came for Quirk to start his own kennels on the property of one of New Zealandâs most prominent trainers
âPaul Freeman has a property out here where he has got three kennel sheds. He and his partner Angela were cutting their numbers down and they only needed two. They said if I wanted to get out and stretch out on my own that I could use one of their sheds. So, I have 20 kennels of my own that they are kind enough to give me and help me outâ.
Quirk did not take long to get on his feet, taking over the training of many of Freemanâs greyhounds with good results. With the help of his friend, Sivan Erueti, Quirk currently uses the facilities of the Freeman property to prepare his chasers.
âI was lucky. I got plenty of support because I had already been here for a couple of years. Paul gave me a kennel that I could kick on straight away with. I had the kennels plus his property and he gave me free reign of his property to do what I want and he started me with 15 dogs of his own so I was a bit lucky in that aspectâ.
With 20 dogs now in work, Quirk rates the promising Hypotential as the best in his kennels. The son of Ahane Lad and Hypo Bella started his career in Victoria where he won one race before making the voyage to join Quirkâs establishment. The black dog now boasts the strong record of 35 starts for 11 wins and 10 minor placings.
âHe is out injured with a hip support at the moment but I think I have won seven or eight races with him. He is an Aussie import that I got off Steve Clark. He is a good little dog, he is probably just a bit below the mark of group status but he won a good heat of a race and he ran third in a group one heat at his last startâ.
Quirk also reached an impressive milestone last month, training his 50th winner in New Zealand. Quirk put the polish on Cawbourne Bully when he overcame a wide box eight draw to land a 21.84s victory at Manawatu over the 375 metre dash. The Whereâs Pedro campaigner has now won six races for Quirk and his Australian connections
âHayley Gilbert owns him, he is an Aussie one that they sent over to Carolyn Hore and Carolyn sent him down to me- Iâm in the Wanganui area and itâs a little bit less competitive down here. He is going well, they sent me three of them actually Cawbourne Bully, Cawbourne Banksy and Captain Osti and they are going well without being superstarsâ.
With the different styles of racing between Australia and New Zealand, comparisons are often drawn between the quality of canines. Recently, some of New Zealandâs best have been able to match motors with their Australian counterparts and quash the speculation that they are of a lesser calibre. This is something that Quirk has noted, however as a rule he does believe that Australia has the upper edge over New Zealandâs largely hobby-based industry
âItâs a smaller industry over here so it is more of a hobby based sport. In general it is a lot weaker but the top echelon of dogs is probably as good as in Australia. Karen (Walsh) took Thrilling Brat over and he won a group 1 and Thrilling Quest won quite a few good races. Clone Your Own is also winning a few good races in Melbourne. So the real top dogs over here can compete with the top dogs in Australiaâ.
Looking to the future, Quirk hopes to expand his setup but is content at the moment to manage his numbers as they currently stand.
âI only have 20 and that is my maximum at the moment. Iâd like to expand but because I am on Paulâs place and I only have the 20 kennels it is big enough to start with. In the future I would like to expand and get up to about 30 or 40 which would be betterâ.
South Australia (GRSA) has today cancelled the registration of its leading trainer indefinitely as the result of complaints from GRSA staff against the trainer.
GRSA officially acknowledged the unprecedented decision this afternoon over a matter that has its origins in a stewards inquiry into leading S.A trainer, Shaun Matcottâs alleged behaviour towards kennel attendants at Angle Park.
It had been alleged that Matcott had used improper, insulting or offensive language towards these officials whom are all employees of GRSA and under their care.
GRSA had arranged for an independent investigation to be conducted in relation to these allegations. After the completion of the investigation, a report had been prepared and presented to the GRSA board members for their consideration.
As such, GRSA announced today that after consideration of the report and the information provided; Matcottâs registration as a trainer has been immediately cancelled. GRSA is allowing a number of greyhounds nominated under Matcottâs name over the coming days to compete, with the condition that all greyhounds are transferred to a different trainer by 9am Monday 14th October 2013.
Matcott is still restricted from attending any registered tracks whether it is for the purposes ofor otherwise until further notice.
While the circumstances surrounding the investigation have not yet been clarified, CEO Matt Corby has explained the reasons for Matcottâs cancellation to
âAs a company, we can elect to cancel the registration of a participant based on what we deem to be observing our requirements as an employer thatâs putting the interests of its staff as a priorityâ, Corby stated.
âAs far GRSA is concerned, we have taken an action that reflects our position on the matter. Right now thatâs the decision that the board has made and they havenât put a time frame on itâ.
Corby also explained that the matter is different to a regular inquiry that relates to the racing rules. As such GRSA is allowing Matcott’s wife, Wendy Matcott; to take over the training of the greyhounds currently under the name of Shaun Matcott.
âThose greyhounds can be transferred to Wendy. Shaun Matcott just canât have any greyhounds under his training care from Monday at 9am. He can reside on the same property with the understanding that Wendy will effectively be taking over the training activitiesâ.
âIt is a less usual decision that was made, in that it does not apply to the rules of racing. The issue is not the outcome of a stewardâs inquiry or a breach of racing rules. The board has taken an action that it deems appropriate in relation to its fundamental obligations as an employer to provide a workplace that is free of particular issues that may be deemed to be contrary to their interestsâ.
âEssentially what we have undertaken as a company or an employer related position so it is different to 99% of our issues in the racing industry- they normally relate to a breach of a national rule of racing. Thatâs not what this isâ.
Shaun Matcott was contacted for his response to these allegations and today’s GRSA decision, however he was unwilling to comment. It is understood he has retained legal advice and will be pursuing his options.
will continue to monitor the story as it progresses.
In a sport where longevity is rarer than a 100/1 winner, Paul Barnes is a survivor. Last Friday, he decided it was time to end a long career in the racing industry that spans back to 1980.
For Barnes the formula is simple âYou just don’t play politics. You just walk down the middle of that road, that’s the only way to survive.â It was that basic, yet effective approach that led to many successes for Barnes.
When you talk to Paul Barnes you hear passion and it becomes obvious that everything he does is, what he believes to be, in the best interests of the industry. There is also little doubt that one of the reasons that this self taught pioneer has outlasted so many is his underpinning, old fashioned morals.
âMy integrity is worth more than anything to me. That is the way I was brought up by my Mum and that’s the way I am.â
Barnesâ first role in the industry was an unenviable one, taking on the task of re-opening the Lithgow trots. He then ventured north to Maryborough in Queensland where he also built a club from the ground up. He then took over the role of secretary at Penrith greyhounds before he began his final role at Bulli, a role which lasted some twenty one years.
Barnes built his reputation on being proactive and forthright and learnt plenty in those early days with the fledgling trotting clubs.
âWhen you re-open clubs you learn a lot of things. You learn to cut costs and how to do things that are successful.â
It is no doubt that this is where Barnes developed his âhands onâ style. If there was ever the slightest hint of a hiccup at a meeting, he was always the first there and not afraid to get his hands dirty.
Barnes faith in his own ability and preparedness to try things may not have always endeared him to his peers at first, but more often than not, they would be onside soon after.
âWhen I worked for the NCA I used to get in trouble for not doing what they said, but I was successful at Penrith. I used to say if what I’m doing doesn’t work, then kick me in the ass and I never got many kicks in the ass.â
One of Paul Barnesâ most notable legacies was his notion to create and promote his own feature events rather than just take what he was given.
âI used to email and ring trainers. That’s what you had to do or you didn’t get the people. And, as you know, back then we used to get all the interstate dogs coming to Bulli. Trainers like Jason Thompson and Peter Daprain loved coming, I used to ring them up and send them info all the time. And you had to talk to the media. I’d always send all the information into the newspapers to make sure we got the coverage.â
Barnes even had his own brief stint in the media himself early on in his career and learnt some valuable lessons.
âI used to write for the paper in Maryborough and do all the trotting form. One thing I learnt is to be careful what you write. One trainer was going to shoot me after I wrote that his horse couldn’t win, even if it was running against me, he didn’t like that.â
Barnes was a believer in hosting highest quality races over the longer distances. He was a pioneer in this pursuit and made every attempt to minimise four hundred metre races, believing they weren’t conducive to quality turnover.
âI’d still like to see the grading done by the clubs. We have no say in the races we get now and sometimes there’s more four hundred metre races than anything else. Unfortunately, as a result, there’s plenty of trainers who only want to run dogs over that distance now.â
Barnes has seen plenty of good dogs at Bulli over his enduring tenure and says heâs seen none quicker than Barcia Bale. But when it came to track specialists he had another preference.
âThe best actual Bulli dog I saw was Kirstyâs Crown, she won eighteen or nineteen races on the old track. And a dog of Jason Thompsonâs that won a Gold Plate was also pretty handy too, Whisky Assassin.â
When I asked Barnes what he found most difficult about the job in its current form it was apparent that nothing was ever something he didn’t enjoy.
âIf I had to pick one I’d probably say the tussling with GRNSW. They have introduced a lot of standards that I may not necessarily think are needed and it puts a lot of extra work back on the clubs. But that’s the way the governance of the sport is going. To be honest, I never found anything too hard about the job.â
Barnes was also at his candid best when divulging his thoughts on the upcoming inquiry into the sport.
âIt’s about time. I was representing Bulli when the distribution deal was presented to us and said at the time that I’m not happy with it, it’s a joke. They just wanted to get the money and it absolutely stuffed the industry. Some people weren’t happy that I stood up and told them what I felt but it’s the truth and it has come back to bite them.â
And it is Barnes straightforward style that is one of the essential elements to his success.
âI’ve never just towed the line if I didn’t agree with something. That is why I probably wasn’t one of GRNSWâs favourite people. I called a spade a spade and if I thought I was right, I wouldn’t back down. If you believe in something you’ve got to keep going at it haven’t you?â
Barnes believes the perfect distribution model was the one they had before the TAB was privatised.
âIf I could change one thing in the sport I would go back to that model. That way the clubs that are performing prosper and the ones that aren’t just disappear if they don’t improve their ways, that’s how it was and that’s how it should be. Under that scheme we were able to pay more prizemoney at Bulli because I studied the scheme and how it worked and did everything I could to improve our turnover. In four to five years Bulli went from near the bottom of the distribution pile to up near the top. But nothing will change while you have the current people running the sport.â
The Bulli club also operated the Appin Way track and Barnes laments the loss of the straight track.
âIt’s a shame, it’s a good venue and the poor straight track dogs haven’t got a place to race any more. That’s the part that stinks, the dogs that can’t go around the bend, what are you going to do with them? It’s another nail in the coffin of the industry.â
When it comes to the future of the Bulli circuit, Barnes would hate to see it go the same way.
âIt’s hard to predict what will happen, itâs a tough environment now, sponsors are hard to get and that’s one of the problems with it. I just hope it keeps going because I think it’s the best track in Australiaâ
Despite a myriad of achievements in the sport, it is that last comment that makes it obvious which one that Barnes is most proud of. After the grass track was all but washed away in floods during 1998, a new loam surface was built with plenty of input from Barnes.
âIf there’s one legacy I’ve left the industry it’s the best track in Australia. That is my design and it took five sets of plans before I got what I wanted.â
If one passion drives Barnes more than racing, it is cricket and he is definitely not about to slow down in retirement. At his peak, the leg spinning all-rounder played first grade in the world’s strongest grade competition; Sydney grade. He regularly came up against both state and national players and more than held his own. He currently plays in the fourth grade Shires competition and in the over 50âs competition. Barnes also represents New South Wales in the over 60âs and recently averaged over a hundred with the willow in a tournament on the Sunshine Coast.
Paul Barnes is the sort of man you can sit and talk to for hours, knowing that you’ll come away richer for the experience. He will definitely be a loss to theindustry.
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.
West Australian sprinter Freemantle Echo stormed home to win the 1987 National Sprint Championship, held in Hobart, defeating local star True Vintage by three-quarters of a length. The third placegetter, Are You Married, from Queensland, was a massive 11 lengths further adrift. True Vintage had been attempting to win her 13th successive race.
The Jim Coleman-trained NSW sprinter General Jeff won the 1980 Brisbane Cup by six lengths over 558 metres at the Gabba, coming from seventh at the first turn.
Local star Mister Oollee won the 1974 Gabba Sprint Championship (later the Coca Cola Cup and Brisbane Cup) over 558 metres at the Gabba, downing NSW speedster Miss Alliance and South Australian star Bristol Sue.
Power Zone broke the track record in winning the 1997 Geelong Cup by three lengths from Macorna Lad and Lansley Bale, scoring in 25.37 and earning $20,000 first prize.
The North Melbourne greyhound track opened its doors for racing in 1957. Superdog Rookie Rebel was among the winners, scoring by five lengths over 675 yards (617 metres).
Zoom Top smashed her own track record over 790 yards (722 metres) at Wentworth Park when winning her heat of the 1969 Sydney Cup by 12 lengths, running 42.9 to clip 3/10ths off the mark she had set the previous year.
Acclaim Star won the 1979 Brisbane Cup (first known as the Gabba Sprint Championship and later the Coca Cola Cup) at the Gabba for NSW and trainer Bill Fletcher. He went on to be named NSW Greyhound of the Year.
Spud Regis won the 2012 Adelaide Cup for trainer Andrea Dailly just a week after Big Black Mac, his litter brother and fellow qualifier, had been killed in a car accident. Heston Bale, also trained by the Daillyâs, finished fourth.
Sky Chimes set a track record of 27.8 for 480 yards (438 metres) at the Epping course in 1927, defeating the classy Happy Bachelor by two lengths.
Totara scored what was described as a âluckyâ win in the third heat of the 1940 Victorian Futurity Stakes up the straight at Napier Park. Starting a 1/4 ($1.25) favourite, Totara was well behind Dandy Jenny just a short distance from the line when âthe pacemaker stopped [and] Dandy Jenny eased up with him, allowing [Totara] to slip up on the inside and score a fortunate win.â (from a report in The Argus newspaper)
Victorian champion Tara Princess won the 1964 Interstate Challenge over 800 yards (732 metres) at Olympic Park by six lengths. The field of five saw NSW representative Goldent (a winner of 17 of her 43 career starts) and a noted fast finisher, run only third at what was her first run on sand.
Glyn Occa equalled the Dapto 500 yards (457 metres) track record in defeating the up-and-coming sprinter and future pre-potent sire Dreamâs Image by half a length in 27.8 in 1949.
Mepunga Nicky won the 2011 Adelaide Cup for trainer Jeff Britton, the first time the race had been held in October.
Queensland sprinter Pied Rebel was beaten half a length over 500 yards (457 metres) at Harold Park in 1969 to register his seventh successive win or placing since coming from the northern state to contest the National Sprint Championship series on behalf of his home state. He had run third in the final. Pied Rebel became one of the most consistent gallopers to make the transition from Queensland to NSW and gave trainer Paul Cauchi his big break.
After two years in Tasmania, former Victorian trainer Paul Hili and his family are enjoying life immensely, not regretting their move one iota.
Paul is a regular entrant to the winners circle, Jodie is working as a veterinary nurse and eight-year-old Olivia has settled in nicely at the Exeter school.
âWe as a family came to Tassie for a holiday, liked what we saw and decided to relocate, it was as simple as that,â Paul explained this week.
At the time Hili was preparing his team from a Keysborough property previously occupied by his father Doug, but the land had subdivisional potential and appreciated in value to the extent that it was no longer viable to retain as a training complex.
âI would probably have had to relocate to Sale, but figured that Tasmania was a better option and made the move,â he explained.
Now firmly established on a small holding comprising 20 kennels at Loira, near Beaconsfield in the West Tamar region, Hili is currently enjoying a great run of success and is naturally hoping that it will continue.
When leading trainer Anthony Bullock was disqualified, many of his team including the smart chaser Hellyeah Bolt, were transferred to his complex, with the result that he is now seen in the winners circle four or five times a week.
âI never intended to take on a large team, but was asked to prepare the Hellyeahchasers while Anthony was missing in action and am now pleased that I did,â he explained.
Hili âserved his apprenticeshipâwith his father at Keysborough and was fortunate enough to be involved with the preparation of several outstanding greyhounds.
Hili senior applied the polish to greyhounds of the calibre of Tangaloa ( Melbourne Cup, Australian Cup), High Intensity ( National Distance Championship), Dallas Duo ( Ballarat Cup), Club Edition (Adelaide Cup) and Dancing Vixen ( Laurels).
âI started with Dad when I was fourteen and spent several years helping him before obtaining a licence in my own right,â he explained.
To date Hili regards the very good bitch Ceejays Vixen, the winner of 19 of 46 outings and stakes of in excess of $90,000, as the best greyhound he has the pleasure of training, with a soft spot also for Black Nitro, which won him a string of races when he first arrived in Tasmania.
He has since bred from the Ceejays Vixen and retained a share in one of her offspring, the very good Angela Langton prepared Heidi Go Seek, the winner of 14 races and stakes of in excess of $72,000.
Hili believes that to be successful in Tasmania, one has to concentrate on Tasbred chasers and with that in mind is currently rearing a litter of seven-month-old pups by Bombastic Shiraz from Miss Vixen, by Brett Lee from Ceejays Vixen.
âI will also be breeding bitches to Black Nitro, a son of Bombastic Shiraz and I’m A Fencer, a son ofÂ Go Wild Teddy,Â in the very near future,â he explained.
âBlack Nitro is from Brett Lee bitch Leetyla, a sister to Bond, so I believe that he will make it at stud.â
The trainer believes that it is becoming increasingly difficult to bring greyhounds from Victoria to race in Tasmania, mainly because most owners prefer to win their juveniles before attempting to transfer them.
âI have been offered several greyhounds lately that have already won four or five races in Victoria, which means that they will have to compete against some very good opposition here,â he explained.
âThere are some very good trainers here in Tasmania and top grade races are hard to win, I would prefer to win juveniles with them here and then send them back.â
If there is one thing that Hili would like to change here in Tasmania, it would be an increase in stakes.
âWe are racing for reasonable money, but like most participants I believe that an increase is stakes is necessary to counteract rising costs,â he declared.
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!
OCTOBER 1st – 7th
Champion stayers Kirstyâs Charity and Whip Tip ran first and second in the Sydney Cup final. Trained by Harry Sarkis, Kirstyâs Charity ran a brilliant 42.27 to set a race record which stood until the grass surface was replaced by loam a few years later.
The 1994 National Sprint Championship final was held at Wentworth Park and won by local hope Gallant Ruler who scored by a record winning margin of 12 lengths from Kyasha (Victoria) and Fear None (South Australia). It was also the last time a National Sprint Championship final took place in October.
Super sprinter Macareena scored a sensational eight lengths win over 580 yards (530 metres) at Wentworth Park downing classy greyhounds such as Majortel and Rua Lad in a solid 31.7.
Irreplaceable annexed the 2008 South Australian Oaks with a stunning seven lengths victory at Angle Park for trainer Majella Ferguson.
Pinkstone narrowly won the 1964 Sydney Cup final. Goldent, who had won her previous seven successive distance starts, finished a three and a half lengths third after being skittled early.
Sonic Wave, a former Victorian, took out the first running of the Sydney Cup on the newly-remodelled Wentworth Park track. Although still run on grass, the race was now contested over 720 metres.
Local star Miss Cruise took out the 1994 National Distance Championship, run at Wentworth Park, downing South Australian Tilka Lass by three-quarters of a length.
One Tree Hill peaked at just the right time to take out the 2008 Paws of Thunder final and give Victorian-trained greyhounds their fourth successive victory in the race. For the second consecutive year Victorian-trained sprinters took all three placings with Mantra Lad second and race favourite El Galo third. One Tree Hill was trained by Victorian mentor Robert Britton but had begun racing in New South Wales and was having her 24th start at Wentworth Park.
Tired won the 1949 Lincoln Stakes, run over 500 yards (457 metres) at Harold Park, earning ÂŁ285 ($570) for his connections. Among the unplaced division were Dreamâs Image (fifth) and Erinâs Ace (seventh). On the same evening, Valley Ann won the prestigious October Stakes.
Mr Slick, representing Victoria, won the 1992 National Sprint Championship. The final was conducted for what would be the last time at the Olympic Park circuit.
Gold Star Lass defeated the up-and-coming Busyâs Chief (a son of former track stars Benjamin John and Busyâs Charm, the litter sister to the great Zoom Top) by three lengths in the 1974 Casino Cup.
The Appin straight track opened in 1975. A crowd of 12,000 was on hand to witness the dayâs racing. Flaming John had the honour of winning the first race.
Painted Wish defeated Silent Assassin and Malawi Law in the 1995 Geelong Cup final, earning $12,500 prize money.
Leprechaun Pace took out the 2007 Paws of Thunder at Wentworth Park in a race completely dominated by Victorian greyhounds. Shanlyn Prince, Bettyâs Angel (a litter sister to the winner), and Meticulous, all Victorians, finished second, third and fourth respectively.
Miagi broke the 720-metre track record with a 42.03 victory in the 2007 Sydney Cup final, defeating Queensland star Miss Brooks by just over nine lengths.
Casino Tom, the South Australian representative, won the 1993 National Sprint Championship on his home track at Angle Park. In a close finish, Casino Tom downed Victorian Amyâs Doll by half a length with NSW contender Benâs Image a half length away third.
Quidame took out the final of the Sydney Cup to join Trojan Tears, Kobble Creek, and Distinctive as the Queenslanderâs who have taken out the long-standing distance classic.
Llandilo conditioner Peter Lagogiane will head into this weekâs Group 2 Bob Payne Spring Sprint at Wentworth Park as one of the outsiders. However, he is not without a genuine winning chance with the talented Lucks Changed taking her place in the $40,000 to the winner feature.
The daughter of Mandagery Man and Princess Tayah was dominant in her heat victory last Saturday, defeating the Victorian raider, Purcell Bale, in a slick 29.91s. Although beginning well from box one, the brindle bitch was outpaced by the Graeme Bate-trained campaigner and had to do all the chasing. Lucks Changed assumed the lead down the back and careened away for a five length triumph on the line.
Although it was a terrific field, Lagogiane had a big opinion of Lucks Changed and was expecting a good performance going into the heat. Punters on the other hand were not expecting her to win, sending her to the boxes at $11.
âAll of the heats were very strongâ, Lagogiane enthused, âWe thought all of them could have been the finalâ.
âOnce we saw the box draw we were pretty excited. She doesnât draw the one box too often so we were happy. We knew it was a hard race but we hoped she could win. We knew what she could run around there and we were quietly confidentâ.
It was assuring for many to see the 26 kilogram pocket rocket come from behind and chase tenaciously to find the front. Lagogiane knew that his chaser was strong enough and was more than capable of overtaking another greyhound.
âThe bitch can run and she does have a last section. She has shown tendencies that she can come from behind in some of her races, at Gosford and the Gardens she has come from behind, so it wasnât surprising and it just fulfilled what we already knew about herâ.
âWhen we saw her jump to second we knew that Purcell Bale would come off, we actually read the race quite well. We knew that Purcell Bale was the likely leader in the race and that it doesnât hold the fence. It likes to roll off on the top turn which it did and we got underneath it and our bitch is a strong railer. A lot of greyhounds usually excel when they find the rail and she is one of themâ.
Lucks Changed has moved out to the other side of the track this week and will exit box seven in the decider.Â The one thing working for her is that she does have some fast beginners on her direct inside which may bring her across to the fence. However, Lagogiane admits that the draw is less than ideal in a Group race final.
âIdeally we would have loved to have drawn the one again. It is a positive that we are drawn outside fast dogs. Purcell Bale jumps in front but doesnât head to the rail and stays off the track but Cracker Jack Lil is to her immediate inside and it hunts for the fence. Then again it does give a clear run to the dog directly on our outside which is Zipping Willow which I think is the main danger in the raceâ.
Despite being among some speedy dogs, Lucks Changed does have the pace to be prominent and can handle herself from a wide draw. The versatile bitch has a perfect four from four from box six and has notched up a success from box eight. She also has the class to be competitive.Â Last month, Lucks Changed speared out of box six and annihilated her competitors, drawing to the line to score by eight and one quarter lengths in a blistering 29.67s.
âShe is not badly drawn out there, she is actually quite suited. She does have that early first section and she can really come out of a box if she comes out on the right footâ.
âShe showed it a couple of weeks ago when she came out and run 29.67. She can match it with any dog in NSW today because she does have that raw abilityâ.
âIt is all at box rise. On her own, whenever we trial her, she trials best of the night or not far off the track record. Iâm not saying that she is a track record bitch but she canât match it with most of themâ.
Lagogiane will be aiming for a double when he heads into town this week with the talented Honey Chicken engaged in race four.Â The son of Big Daddy Cool is drawn well in box three and will be looking to score at his first crack at the Sydney half mile. Honey Chicken stepped up in distance three starts back at Richmond, recording a promising second behind Tollo. At his next start the black dog scored a convincing victory over the 600 at Gosford recording 35.15s before tasting defeat over the 717 at Richmond last start. Despite meeting a strong field tomorrow night he is right in the race
âHoney Chicken has been a bit of a revelation since we put him up a little bit further in distanceâ, Lagogiane said, âHe is just a dog that goes all dayâ.
A win in either event would no doubt be nice for the prominent young trainer. However, a win in the feature race on the card would prove and excellent reward for Lagogiane who is trying to make his mark on the industry as a full time mentor.
âWe have 15 in work at present and about 45 dogs on the property. It keeps us busy and we have a couple of nice pups coming throughâ.
âWe have never won a group race although we have won a couple of listed races. We were bridesmaid once and I think we have run a couple of thirds in them. We have been in a couple of Group 2 and Group 3 races and a Group 1 race. We were in the Black Top with Tomato Catch Up but we just havenât had any luckâ
Perhaps Lagogiane will find his Lucks Changed tomorrow night.
*****Since the time of the interview, Purcell Bale has been scratched. This gives the National Sprint Hero, Xylia Allen, a start in the feature.
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.
Remarkably, last Thursdayâs SA Derby winner Ernie Bung Arrow, ran all over the shop but still managed a PB of 29.55 and the hard-railing Tonk was unable to catch it. Both were assisted by the middle trio â Kiss Me Ketut, Hawk Alone and Allen Makato â striking early trouble and recording slower sectional times than they were capable of. Local dog Kalden Gambino excelled himself by crossing the field from box 7 with a sectional of 4.46 and then running third.
However, punters using the SA formguide started off with a big disadvantage. Half the sectional times were missing.
That formguide, published now by GRNSW, ignored all sectional times run in Victoria and WA. That meant that of the last 40 runs by the eight dog field, only 19 times were included. The home states did record all these times but they failed to make it across into the oddball NSW system.
One outcome was that the GRNSW tipster showed Tonk, the favourite and eventual second placegetter, coming out well behind the rest of the field. That followed its ordinary jump in the heats. However, its career form in Victoria was much better than that so it was reasonable to expect it to improve in the final, having now had experience on the track and moving from box 6 to box 1. And so it turned out. It still did not jump as well as it might but ended up running 4.50, as opposed to the 4.69 it ran in the heat while SA star Ernie Bung Arrow darted out in its usual smart fashion in 4.37. The SA dog now has an extraordinary 13 wins and one 2nd from 14 starts, which is approaching Miata standards. (Our records show one more run/win than published by GRNSW, something I have cross-checked elsewhere).
The GRNSW suggested price of $4.00 for Tonk was therefore well over its true odds. It actually started at $2.50 in NSW, which probably went too far the other way. But thatâs what happens on the tote with good dogs in the rails box.
This continues the amateurish approach by GRNSW to form presentation. The frequent shortage of sectional times from provincial tracks and the omission of interstate times can turn good punting into guesswork, even for its own tipsters.
However, it also points up the lack of coordination amongst Australian racing authorities. The absence of national leadership leaves a yawning gap in the industryâs public profile, and also in the way it operates.
Itâs now 19 years since I started campaigning for the establishment of a national form database, similar to the stud database run by Greyhounds Australasia. Victoria was of a like mind at the time and put up a formal proposal to GAL (which was then ANZGA). The idea was that not only would it offer a single reliable source for all concerned, including punters, but it would also save heaps of money because authorities would not have to duplicate work already done by clubs and interstate authorities.
The mind boggles at the benefits that would have offered the industry over those 19 years. We are talking millions of dollars here, all thrown down the drain because of petty rivalries and sheer incompetence.
The proposal got knocked on the head by none other than the NSW GRA, the GRNSW predecessor, which said it would be too much trouble for all its clubs because their computers were all running on floppy disks (remember them?). I think they were Commodore models built before the days of hard disks. I was tempted to offer to buy each of them a new computer.
In all that time, we still have not managed to build a credible and accessible national system. Even the current tri-state operation under the GRNSW banner (soon to be five-state) has not been able to develop a reliable output, nor one which people can use in a friendly or efficient manner.
It is not rocket science. Currently, National Tabform, a Melbourne-based family organisation, manages to do a thorough nationwide job, including a supply of all the information missing from the GRNSW model, and some more besides. You have to pay a monthly subscription but the service is there. Otherwise, Victorian and WA authorities provide very respectable free formguides for their local meetings, albeit usually missing many of those elusive interstate sectional times. Tasmanian and Queensland local guides prepared by their authorities are third rate by comparison but have now been superseded by the GRNSW version, or soon will be.
Letâs hope it will not be another 19 years before we get professionally produced greyhound form.
Meantime, we can record that last Friday that sectional offender Casino, or GRNSW, or both, re-started their previous practice of publishing sectional times for 411m events. We still have to guess what dog ran them but the times are there. May others follow! And may they then eventually start providing them for all runners, not just the leader, as occurs in Victoria.
TRACK QUERIES PERSIST
Our updated survey of falls and interference shows some tracks are still not doing well while some others have worsened.
Nationally, 5.3% of races involve a fall. Trips which are at the nasty end â say 9% to 12% – include Ballarat 390m, Bathurst 307m, 450m, 520m, Casino 411m, 484m, Cranbourne 311m, Horsham 410m, Nowra 520m, Sandown 515m, Shepparton 390m, Traralgon 298m, Warrnambool 390m and Warragul 400m. Note the heavy presence of short trips with starts which are close to the nearby bend. Six of these are newly constructed tracks which suggests authorities are not paying enough attention to the âunintended consequencesâ of their work.
Some longer trips are also posing hassles. The new 650m/660m bracket in Victoria â at Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton and Warrnambool, as well as Richmond 618m and Casino 620m in NSW – all reveal very high proportions (over 60%) of races where 20+ lengths margins are recorded. These are all awkward bend starts where the field is quickly chopped in half as they round the first corner. The national average is 28.3%.
Richmond 535m is also poor in this respect but that is undoubtedly due to runners failing to hold the flat first turn and then causing disruptions to others. The same could be said of Dapto 515m. Both tracks have been re-built at least once yet the old faults were repeated.
On the plus side, Hobart, Devonport, Mandurah and Northam continue to perform well. So does the re-built Healesville straight track, with a new lure and a loam surface. It replaced an aging grass track where runners regularly crashed over from the outside. Somebody found the secret there.
Those better results give the lie to claims that dogs themselves cause all the problems. Well, some may do, but most of the hassles are due to how man laid out the tracks.
Anyone interested in the details of our Interference Survey is welcome to click here to see it: Greyhound Track Statistics
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Sad to see that GWA CEO David Simonette has retired due to ill health and a search is on for a replacement. David was always helpful and communicative. Best of luck to him for the future.
Meantime, work is under way on detailed planning for a new Cannington track, due to open in 2015. It will need some government financing which maybe a problem as, like in Queensland. the Premier is currently busy telling the world the once flourishing state is now short of money.
The Group 2 Bob Payne Spring Sprint series kicked off at Wentworth Park last night, with four fantastic heats the highlight of the ten race card. The heats had everything to offer on paper and the action on the track did not disappoint. However, there were a few surprises with some of the series favourites going down in spectacular fashion.
The first heat went to the Peter Hunt- prepared Cracker Jack Lil who was able to overcome a horror box five draw to land the cash.Â The daughter of Go Wild Teddy and Lilâs Memory has a stack of talent but her form had been mixed over recent starts, albeit against some stiff competition in Victoria. Back to her brilliant best at the Glebe circuit, Cracker Jack Lil pinged straight to the front of the field courtesy of a scorching 5.35s first split. Once she hit the front, her competitors were always going to find it difficult to run her down. Â The blue speedster dashed to the line two and three quarter lengths ahead of Frank Hurstâs Good Odds John in a slick 29.88s.
Cracker Jack Lil now boasts the impressive record of 52 starts for 25 wins and 13 minor placings. The Victorian bitch is renowned for her sizzling early sectionals- her early toe saw her right in the market for the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg back in March where she led the race before succumbing to the powerful Grigorieva Bale down the back.
The second heat went to Hunter Valley sprinter Zipping Willow for Richmond Vale mentor Jason Mackay. Fresh from her victory in last Sundayâs Group 3 Canberra Cup, the daughter of Goodesy and Sirocco Lass showed her customary early dash to find the front in the run to the first turn and was never behind another runner. Turning for home Zipping Willow bounded along brilliantly, crossing the line three and three quarter lengths ahead of roughie Apollo Reign in a fast 29.71s.
The National Sprint Champion, Xylia Allen, could not match it with the exciting young bitch from a bad draw after finding trouble, finishing four lengths behind the winner in third position.
The third heat went to the aptly named Lucks Changed who managed to use box one to perfection for Llandilo trainer Peter Lagogiane. The daughter of Mandagery Man was second past the post on the first occasion, but managed to rail through on the first turn and assume the lead from Purcell Bale in the run down the back straight. From there the brindle bitch kicked clear, saluting by a widening five lengths on the line in a nippy 29.91s.
Lucks Changed has now won 11 races from 41 racetrack appearances with a further 13 placings. If she can run up to her 29.67s personal best over the track and distance in Saturdayâs final she will be right in the race with a live chance. Purcell Bale managed to cling on for second ahead of the fast finishing Stetson Donna.
The fourth and final heat went to another member of Peter Huntâs talented kennel. Beginning well from a wide draw in box seven, Gold Town was able to carve across the field and find the lead early. From there it was a case of times and margins as the son of Surf Lorian cruised along out in front to notch up a BON 29.64s success. Gold Town is a very underrated sprinter with 18 wins and 22 minors to his name after 60 starts on the track. The 32 kilogram chaser loves Wentworth Park with a flying 29.49s recorded back in March. He also brings with him some terrific form and times from the city tracks in Victoria.
Sticking on well in second position was Desalle Bale who just couldnât match motors with her fellow Victorian in the run down the back. Race favourite Zulu Zeus was never in contention after taking a heavy tumble on the first turn. Luckily the son of Whereâs Pedro was able to pick himself up and finish off the event.
The box draw for the Group 2 Bob Payne Spring Sprint is as follows:
Box 1:Â Apollo Reign
Box2: Good Odds John
Box 3: Desalle Bale
Box 4: Purcell Bale
Box 5: Gold Town
Box 6: Cracker Jack Lil
Box 7: Lucks Changed
Box 8: Zipping Willow
1st Res: Xylia Allen
2nd Res: Between Wicketts
First sectional times are vital information â right? They tell us how the race will be set up. Forget 2nd sectionals and run home times as they will tell you very little on their own. But you canât do without that first sector information if you want to bet properly.
So why are they being kept hidden?
As we advised on 12 September, Tasmanian sectionals are hopeless fiction while 1st sectionals at Canberra, Grafton, Casino and Lismore are not making it to the results pages published by GRNSW â or not those for 400m trips where early pace is even more vital. Even if they did, it would be for one dog only and the other seven runners would be ignored.
Yet, if you are at the track, you can see those times being posted on the semaphore board. It does not tell you what dog ran them but the times are there. So either the clubs or GRNSW are not bothering to tell us about them.
They are available for all runners in 520m races at Lismore, while at Casino sub-3 second sectional times are shown for 484m trips (although, being so small, they are pretty useless â statistically and practically). In theory, therefore, the system is working.
The missing times are being recorded somewhere in the Finishlynx system, as otherwise they would not make it onto the semaphore board. But there they stop. Why is this so?
THREE WISE MONKEYS?
Queenslanders â trainers and the like, that is â are being asked to take part in a statewide âWe run as oneâ campaign dreamed up by Racing Queensland. The idea is to avoid saying nasty things and to tell the world what terrific entertainment racing offers. All codes are involved. A special website is being constructed to allow everyone to tell their great stories and so build up momentum which will help the state leap out of its misery.
The good thing about this is that RQ recognises it has a PR problem. And there is nothing wrong with asking participants to help.
The other side of the coin might be tagged âIs that all there isâ. There is no hint of a more general marketing plan â such as a program to rope in more customers or get them to ââbet moreâ as a previous announcement from the hierarchy promised, or even to find out why they are not betting more â ie conduct research.
In fact, a thorough search of the RQ website did not reveal any mention of the new program. Nor, for that matter, did it contain any announcement about the appointment of its new CEO, which is really strange.
By and large, marketing manager jobs in racing organisations around the country seem to concentrate almost wholly on promotions â marquee parties, group functions, meal deals and the like. This is a far cry from more conventional definitions of the post which concern many different aspects of getting the product to the end customer. It varies from company to company but can include, product development, advertising, merchandising, pricing, consumer research and so on.
However, aside from flogging the product, I can help RQ with a starting point: Queenslandâs prime problem is that its fields are not up to scratch. Failing improvements, there is not a lot to sell. In greyhounds, the average quality is down and the numbers are only a shadow of the old days. Tonight at Albion Park, for example, they are offering two chancy Novice races and the Best 8 is actually only a Best 6. Amazingly, in this climate RQ has decided to increase SEQ meetings from six to seven each week with the addition of a Saturday night low-class Ipswich meeting (for which it will have stern competition at the TAB).
Other commentary suggests harness and thoroughbred codes are no better off.
Of course, to get better fields over the long run more cash would be helpful. Even so, this is a chicken and egg issue. Better fields, well marketed, could attract more investment. Conversely, inaction in either area will encourage a continuation of the dismal trends of the last several years. But another 100 good dogs would make a very big difference. Only mugs will bet on mugs. Real punters demand consistent performers.
Its second major challenge is that none of its tracks are satisfactory. They have major design faults which have been ignored for many years. Except for one, that is. Toowoomba was one of the best in the country but they dumped it for financial reasons.
For example, for more than a decade I have been calling for some relatively cheap upgrades to the Ipswich layout.
Shifting the 431m and 630m boxes to friendlier spots and re-shaping the 520m first turn would make an enormous difference yet none of the club, the QGRA or RQ could be bothered addressing the task.
Townsville is getting a run despite its appalling 90 degree turn just after the 484m start. The circular Lawnton track and the diabolically laid out Beenleigh got the bullet for financial reasons, not because they were unsatisfactory designs. The much-vaunted Parklands ran, in grass or loam mode, with two major faults â unusual disruptions in the early part of the turn and a flat home turn â yet never got any attention. And Albion Park with its bend starts is no bed of roses either.
Queenslandâs third major hassle is that its income is confined to a fading TAB. The small size of Tattsbet pools mean that serious punters would be crazy to patronise it when better options are at their fingertips. Only the creation of a national betting pool will ever overcome that shortcoming, never mind what deals are struck when the contract is revisited next year.
All this indicates a massive disregard for the codeâs basic needs and the structure of its product. Over time, these shortcomings must have a significant effect on patronage. One outcome came from a letter writer to QGRAâs The Journal, who said, âI will no longer bring guests to Albion Park to watch 6-second racesâ. And that was several years ago when the grandstand was still in one piece.
TIME IS NO HEALER
The two above cases in NSW and Queensland illustrate how the history ofhas evolved.
In the first 36 years, from 1927 to 1963, local customers had nowhere else to have a bet legally and raceclubs had only to keep the beer cold and the pies hot while the state authority tried to keep the books tidy and the trainers in line. Clubs succeeded or failed on the quality of their own efforts. In the next 50 years, particularly in the last 25 years, the influence and the attractiveness of the raceclub waned as betting devolved to remote customers while authorities and TABs micro-managed the process.
Well, âmanagedâ is too strong a word; actually, they just administered everything, periodically going to the government for a handout. The quality of the tracks and the fields became secondary to the flow of dollars from distant and largely unknown sources. And administration still outranks management.
In short, no-one is really in charge now. It all just happens.
The girls are definitely dominating the staying scene at the moment, with only one male lining up for a crack at the Group 3 Chairmanâs Cup tonight at Wentworth Park. The National Distance hero, Smart Valentino, will be looking to salute for the lads when he exits box seven in the feature. However, he has come up against some brilliant bitches that will be ensure it is a hard task for the back marker.
Box 1: Little Grey
The consistent Little Grey heads into the final after claiming her heat last week in a handy 42.55s. The daughter of Bit Chili began well and led all the way, defeating Diamond Lucy by three and a half lengths on the line. Little Grey has a fantastic strike rate from the cherry, with two wins and two minors from five starts, making her boxed where she wants to be. As a young stayer she looks to have plenty of talent, yet it remains to be seen whether she is up to the Group standard of some of her rivals. With over half a second difference between the two heat times, she will need to find a bit to be a genuine winning hope.
Box 2: My Asuncion
The Adele Powell-trained bitch is a daughter of a Group 1 distance diva Just Friends, but will need to find a few lengths to emulate the success of her famous mum. The 26 kilogram lightweight has had two runs over the trip without finishing in the top three on either occasion and has only saluted four times from 37 starts overall. It is hard to recommend her when she is against some proven stayers.
Box 3: Maddison Dee
Maddison Dee is the first of the Victorian raiders and looks to be one of the main contenders for the Group 3 title.Â The bonny bitch was gallant in defeat when finishing second behind Proven Impala in her heat, despite being eight and three quarter lengths off the winner. She should derive great benefit from her look at the track and from a favourable draw expect to see a big improvement from the Michael Chilcott half-miler.
Box 4: Cawbourne Looney
The inform Lord kennels will be looking to make it two group wins in one week when they line up Cawbourne Looney from box four. Â On Thursday night, Jodie put the polish on the promising Cawbourne Whip who claimed the Group 3 Dapto Maiden. Cawbourne Looney was aiming to make it five wins in succession when she contested last weekâs heat. Â However, she was outpaced and outclassed by Proven Impala, finishing fourth behind the star Victorian. From box four she will have to avoid early interference, but she looks as if she has enough speed to be racing up near the pace and from there she has a good shot.
Box 5: Diamond Lucy
Ron Bell will have the daughter of Bit Chili and Jamad picture perfect for her big assignment but she will still have to do it the hard way from box five. Diamond Lucy ran an honest race in her heat on Saturday night, sitting second behind Little Grey for the entire trip. She faces a much harder task tonight and may struggle against this talented crew.
Box 6: Lucy Wires
The second âLucyâ in the field will exit box six for Robert Britton. The dark brindle bitch has good form over the middle and staying trips in Victoria and should improve after her look at the track last week. The Flying Penske two and a half year old is a newcomer to the racing scene, lining up for the Group 3 assignment at just her 12th track appearance.
Box 7: Smart Valentino
The National Distance Champion returned to Wentworth Park last week, finishing third behind Proven Impala. The son of Whereâs Pedro is as strong as they come and will be hard to hold out if he can place himself prominently within the first circuit. Smart Valentino has a scintillating personal best of 41.96s over the track and distance, which will make him hard to beat despite being drawn out wide in box seven.
Box 8: Proven Impala
The two time group winner should start favourite after her fantastic front running performance last week. Beginning well from box five, the Velocette bitch speared straight to the front of the field and streaked away to score an emphatic eight and three quarter length win in a blistering 42.03s. Box eight is not ideal, especially in a Group final. However, there is not much speed in the race so she should be able to find a spot up near the lead. If she can hit the front it will take a sensational run to chase her down.
1st Reserve: Hotwire
The son of Big Daddy Cool makes it into nearly every group final over the 720 at headquarters. Whilst it would be nice to see him rewarded with a group win it looks very unlikely, even if he does gain a start.
2nd Reserve: Number Krunch
Unlikely he will gain a start and even if he does, he will not be considered a genuine threat.
:Â Proven Impala,Â Cawbourne Looney, Smart Valentino, Maddison Dee.
The Group 3 Chairmanâs Cup is race eight tonight and will jump at 9:57pm.
The stalwart partnership of Robert and Robin Grubb caused the upset of the week by running the quinella in the opening heat of the Furniture City Ladiesâ Bracelet held at Launceston Monday night.
Not that seeing the Grubb kennel prepare winners is anything new, but the fact that the State Sprint Champion Sheâs All Class could only manage third behind the duo of Sing the Song and Pipstar is what had punters running for cover.
Perhaps showing the effects of the heavy fall suffered during the National Sprint Final, Sheâs All Class was crossed easily by Pipstar originally, before Sing The Song took control of the race down the back. In a dominant performance, Sing The Song drew right away in the concluding stages and stopped the clock at 29.92.
Both Grubb runners are out of the High Earner x Stylish Moon litter whelped in 2011, which has produced a batch of very talented greyhounds with Roxy Rhythm, Stylish Abbey and Kiss Me Elvis all part of this super group.
Stylish Moon herself was also part of a star litter that produced Launceston Cup winner Fisherman, as well as Pedro Pronto, Stylish Monty and Whereâs Ned, but the bitch Stylish Moon was clearly the pick of breeding options.
The second heat of the Ladies Bracelet was a far more popular result, with race favourite Queen Ahmose getting the job done ahead Hollyheath, Li Li and Fulande.
Fulande was also heavily backed before the race, and after a moderately successful campaign in Victoria, was looking for her first win since May. She flew out of the six trap and led the field clearly for the opening stanza of the race, before her competitors settled in for the chase.
While it took a while for Fulande to surrender the lead, once she did there were challengers left right and centre, with Hollyheath claiming the front first. But not to be outdone, Queen Ahmose stormed over the top, taking out the race in 30.22.
Alison Walker is responsible for the preparation of Queen Ahmose, and the improvement of this bitch since starting her career has been noticeable. Since not placing in her first four outings in Juvenile company, the daughter Collision and Shepherdâs Girl has certainly found her groove, taking her tally up to eight wins from 26 starts overall.
The Ladies Bracelet final will be held at the Mowbray circuit on Monday.
It seems the exodus of the stateâs best dogs mainland pastures continues, with both Hellyeah Bolt and Buckle Up Wes joining the list of dogs currently the other side of Bass Straight.
Hellyeah Bolt was in engaged the S.A Derby heats last Thursday night at Angle Park, running a respectable third behind Allen Mokoto and Kalden Gambino. From box six, Hellyeah Bolt began fairly and pushed hard for the rail showing good strength at the back end of the event. Eventually beaten by just over a length, he showed enough to suggest that travelling will have little impact on the Paul Hili trained youngster.
Buckle Up Wes on the other hand has gone up to Sydney, and will line up in race two of Saturday Nightâs Wentworth Park meeting. Ted Medhurst has tasted success in that part of the country before, and having drawn the red with Buckle Up Wes, he will no doubt represent the Apple Isle with pride.
Also just in closing, it was rather pleasing to watch the winner of Race 4 at Launceston this week. Greysynd Merry for Darren Critchley would start from the red box, and at her 81st start she finally brought up her long-awaited second victory. Not since February 2012 had Greysynd Merry stood on the top step of the podium, resigned to 23 placings over countless different distances in between.
With a dog that many others would have given up or offloaded, it was tremendous to see such patience and determination pay off. They say âevery dog has their dayâ, so to Darren Critchley and Greysynd Merry, we say well done.
Dapto will be host to its first Group 1 race tonight when the lids fly open for the Dapto Megastar. The $75,000 to the winner event delivers a mixture of proven group talent and emerging young superstars all vying for top honours.
Box 1: Proven Nitro- $4.80with
The Jason Thompson-trained sprinter has been afforded the luxury of the rails draw from which he has recorded six wins from eight starts. Proven Nitro brings with him fantastic Victorian form, competing against group winners such as Desalle Bale, Tomac Bale and Kokoda Spirit at his most recent starts. The winner of 25 races has the pace to land on the bunny and avoid trouble on the first turn from box one. He will prove hard to catch if he manages to sneak away from his opposition.
Box 2: Peter Rocket- $8.00 fixed odds with
Peter Rocket was sensational in the Megastar Prelude when chasing down Mexico City to score by half a length in a sizzling 29.79 seconds. The son of Whereâs Pedro is boxed ideally on the inside and should be able to find a nice position in the run to the first turn. The Group 2 Horsham Cup winner is a safe beginner and is one of the main chances to take out the race.
Box 3: Glen Gallon- $5.50 fixed odds with
The star Queenslander is a crowd favourite and is in with a great shot after registering a slick 29.57s trial at the track last week. Trained by Tony Brett, the red brindle powerhouse is a multiple group winner and will be aiming to take his prizemoney earnings past the whopping $675,000 mark with a win in tonightâs feature. The son of Flying Stanley does not have blistering early speed but is adept at navigating his way through a field to find the bunny. Despite turning four last month, he is still racing in great style and is capable on notching up his 38th win as he draws towards the end of a stellar career.
Box 4: Double Twist- $10 fixed odds with
Double Twist will be aiming to make it three wins in a row when she jumps from box four tonight. The daughter of Whereâs Pedro and Tifi clocked a near record 29.56s success at the track last month before returning the following week with a sizzling 29.86s performance. Double Twist has been showing more early speed of late however she will still have to contend with the awkward draw.
Box 5: Jagger Swagger- $8.00 fixed odds with
Jagger Swagger is the query runner of the field as he has not been seen on the track since June when finishing last behind Quiz Bale. Prior to that run he had been in terrific form claiming the Group 1 National Derby, the Group 2 Richmond Derby and the Group 3 Bulli Gold Cup. Box five will make it difficult for the son of Premier Fantasy as he is not an overly quick beginner however he has an enormous motor once he hits the ground.
Box 6: Mexico City- $31 fixed odds with
Mexico City ran a cheeky race at huge odds in last weekâs Prelude and almost stole the honours when going down by just half a length to Peter Rocket. The Mark Gatt-trained greyhound is as honest as they come and can post some sensational times when he is given the chance, as shown by his phenomenal 29.58s triumph at Wentworth Park five starts ago. Despite being drawn poorly in box six, he has the pace to lead the field and could run a top race at big odds.
Box 7: Amadeus Strikes- $17.00 fixed odds with
Amadeus Strikes flashed home from nowhere to clinch third in the Prelude after finding trouble in the early stages. The daughter of Bombastic Shiraz is super strong and will be storming home late but will need to avoid interference from box seven to be in with a genuine winning shot. With a moderate beginner on her outside and an excellent beginner on her inside, she should be given every chance to place herself in a prominent position early. If she can do that, she will be the one to watch at juicy odds.
Box 8: Zulu Zeus- $2.25 fixed odds with
The NSW National Sprint representative returns home for his first race start since finishing third in the Group 1 showdown last month. Box eight is ideal for the son of Whereâs Pedro and Fancy Jaffa as he is a big striding dog that needs a few steps for his motor to kick in. From box eight he should be able to muster plenty of momentum and accelerate around the outside of the field. His sizzling 29.46s trial over the track and distance last week further affirmed his chances in the $75,000 to the winner feature, with all the signs now pointing towards a victory for team Hurst.
1st Reserve: Magic Moves- $51 fixed odds with
The Anthony Messina- trained bitch has a good record over the track and distance but looks outclassed in this event should she get a run.
2nd Reserve: Dainty Banquet- $21 fixed odds with
Honest bitch that is always thereabouts but is stepping up dramatically in class.
: 1st Zulu Zeus, 2nd Glen Gallon, 3rd Peter Rocket, 4th Proven Nitro.
The Group 1 Dapto Megastar is race eight tonight and will jump at 9:40pm.
*All fixed odds correct at time of publication
The Jason Thompson trained Proven Nitro has firmed from $5.50 into $4.80 withfor tomorrow nightâs Group 1 Megastar at Dapto.
Proven Nitro is now a clear second pick behind favourite Zulu Zeus, which has eased slightly from $2.20 to $2.25.
âProven Nitro is a huge chance from the red and punters have snapped up our opening price,âAustralia spokesman Andrew Brown said.
Favourite Zulu Zeus, a son of champion stud dog Whereâs Pedro, set the Dapto track alight last Thursday night when breaking the track record in a solo trial by stopping the clock at 29.46.
âZulu Zeus should be able to balance up from the 8 box and charge into that all-important first turn,âAustralia spokesman Andrew Brown said.
Queensland superstar Glen Gallon has remained steady at $5.50 with, but National Derby winner Jagger Swagger had drifted from $7.50 to $8.00.
Peter Rocket has been well supported from $9.50 into $8.
is also offering its popular Best Tote Plus on the Megastar, where punters can take advantage of the best dividend of the three TABs plus an additional 5% boost to winnings.
The 2013Megastar is the first ever Group 1 race, of any code, run in the Illawarra region of NSW.
2013Megastar Final Odds
- Zulu Zeus $2.25 (was $2.20)
- Proven Nitro $4.80 (was $5.50)
- Glen Gallon $5.50 (steady)
- Jagger Swagger $8 (was $7.50)
- Double Twist $10 (was $9.50)
- Peter Rocket $8 (was $9.50)
- Amadeus Strikes $17 (was $16.00)
- Dainty Banquet (res) $21 (was $16.00)
- Mexico City $31 (was $21.00)
- Magic Moves (res) $51 (was $61.00)
The daggers are being thrown in every possible direction within the NSWIndustry at present. With the upcoming pressure of the Parliamentary Inquiry, it seems everyone is trying to find someone to blame for the state of the sport.
The Greyhound Action Group NSW (GAG) was the driving force behind the inquiry which was moved recently by Greens MP, John Kaye.
The inquiry is set to target the binding inter-code agreement that dictates prize money distribution between the three racing codes and the alleged mismanagement by the controlling body ofin the state, New South Wales (GRNSW).
GRNSW were contacted for their perspective on the upcoming inquiry. The one thing it seems that everyone can agree on, including GRNSW, is that the inter-code agreement needs to be amended for the financial longevity and sustainability of the industry. However, GRNSW feel that this should be the primary focus rather than tackling the allegations of mismanagement suggested by the GAG as well as the welfare scandals insinuated by Kaye.
GRNSW Chief Executive Brent Hogan stated the following,
âAs previously mentioned, GRNSW believes that the main focus of the parliamentary inquiry should be on the TAB funding modelâ
âReforming the current TAB funding model is critical to the economic viability of the sport in NSW as the current arrangements between thoroughbred, harness anddo not reward efficiency, innovation or growthâ
âThe fixed percentage structure of allocating TAB distributions among the racing codes may have been sustainable in the context of the stable and protected industry that existed 15 years ago, but the forces of competition, combined with the advancement of technology and the burgeoning national market, have rendered these arrangements a threat to the racing industry as a wholeâ.
With the inquiry also focusing on animal welfare, GRNSW are concerned about the negative implications that this may have on the image of the industry.
âUnfortunately in the days since the inquiry was launched we have had no mention of the TAB funding model and instead seen headlines in mainstream news services such as âGreyhounds Killed, Starved, Drugged: MPâ (news.com.au 28/8/13), âRiddled with Drugsâ (The Australian, 29/8/13, page 2), âGreyhounds Scandals Inquiryâ (Daily Telegraph, 29/8/13, page 20)â
âThese damaging headlines followed Dr Kaye issuing a press release containing scurrilous and baseless claims about the integrity of the sport and those who participate in it together with the standards of animal welfare in the sportâ.
âAllegations made without any fact, such as those made by Dr Kaye, will do little to help the industry and will only tarnish the reputation of theindustry in NSW as well as all the participants that take part in this great sportâ.
With GRNSW obviously concerned that the image of the industry may be tarnished throughout the inquiry, it is worth mentioning an allegation brought forward by the GAG in the article, Greyhound Action Group Respond to Parliamentary Inquiry. In the article, GAG President Dennis Carl claimed that Mr Hogan released a false figure regarding the number of greyhounds destroyed each year (3,000) on National Television.
When asked for comment on this, no response from GRNSW was forthcoming. With so much speculation and a plethora of shifty allegations flying around, it is peculiar that GRNSW did not respond. If they are at all concerned about the image of the industry and any false accusations that are being made, one would think that they would be anxious to clear this matter up, regardless of whether the figure was right or wrong. By ignoring the issue, it does not make it go away. Rather it adds to the growing concerns that GRNSW is not communicating with participants and is leaving them in the dark on the important topics facing the industry. When asked for the correct figure, again, GRNSW did not respond.
Remaining on the welfare issue, Kaye has highlighted to the GAG that his welfare plight will be mainly targeted at professional trainers, rather than hobby trainers. This is rather bamboozling, as one would think that the welfare standards would be uniform across the board. GRNSW did in fact respond to this issue
âAnother concern GRNSW has is the fact that some participants are trying to create division within the industry by seemingly trying to pit so-called âhobby trainersâ against so-called âprofessional trainersââ.
âThe claim made by this small group of participants is once again based on no facts or supported by any evidenceâ
âGRNSW has a zero tolerance for trainers who do not meet our animal welfare standards, no matter what the size of their operation is. To suggest that larger trainers have to meet lesser standards compared to those imposed on hobby trainers is ridiculousâ
âAny trainer found ending the life of a greyhound in an inhumane manner or mistreating greyhounds in their care is not welcome in our sport. They would not only be violating the rules ofand our code of practice, but would also be committing a criminal offence under the NSW Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Actâ.
GRNSW went on to elaborate on their approach to animal welfare initiatives
âLooking to the future, GRNSW is committed to improving the welfare of greyhounds in NSW through a raft of reformsâ
âAmong the reforms is the establishment of the GRNSW Greyhound Welfare and Veterinary Services Unit which employs four full-time veterinary surgeons and a qualified animal behaviourist whose primary responsibility is to oversee the welfare of greyhounds transitioning to life as a petâ
âThis financial year GRNSW will invest $1.3 million on greyhound welfare initiatives. This includes funding for the establishment of a new Education and Support Unit to help drive welfare improvements in the industryâ
âThe unit will build on the current pilot education program â Certificate II in– which is being run by GRNSW, Hunter TAFE and the NSW Department of Education and Communitiesâ
âIn addition, GRNSW is working with Greyhounds Australasia and the other State bodies to draft national welfare guidelinesâ
âThis parliamentary inquiry has reinforced the fact that the welfare of greyhounds is a very serious issue for the widerand as a result GRNSW is committed to announcing further welfare initiatives in the coming months.â
With much of the focus of the upcoming inquiry on GRNSW there is no doubt that they will be feeling the pressure. Despite taking positive steps forward in regards to welfare issues, many participants are still becoming disillusioned by the governance and management of the controlling body. Whether you agree with the upcoming Parliamentary Inquiry or not, there is a large percentage of the industry that feels as if it is time that the actions of GRNSW are reviewed. Perhaps nothing will change dramatically within GRNSW as a result of the Inquiry however; it may assist to restore faith in the organisation for those who feel that the industry has lost its ways.
Late night shoppers in the Eastern states might be in for a surprise in a couple of months when WA goes live with its conversion to the GRNSW data system. Tasmania and SA are already there while Queensland is mooted to cross over later in the year.
No doubt this makes a lot of sense for all those backroom administrative tasks. As with the Stud Book, a national system makes for efficiency and consistency.
However, for form students, or even casual lookers, itâs a disaster. A major overhaul is needed.
For a start, we still have no national form database, or not one that is available to the public. Consequently the mix and match operation continues with form transfers between states always a risky proposition.
They will probably get Wins and Places right as the grading depends on accuracy there. The value of the rest of the information, especially sectional times and running numbers, will be in the lap of the gods. As we mentioned in respect to the National Championships, local formguides seldom include sectional times for foreign visitors. They know what they are at home so perhaps they get taxed out as they cross the border, as happened in the 19th century. Not much efficiency there.
For Tasmanian sectional times, punters will be better off not having them anyway. They are simply wrong. From their source in Tasmania they end up on the GRNSW system showing a single sectional time for each race but they allocate it to the race winner, not necessarily the dog that actually ran the time. So far, Tasmania has ignored several requests to correct this ridiculous process. Authorities claim a better system is under consideration but meantime grossly misleading information is being produced. This is unacceptable, a cancer on the integrity of form records and should never have started in the first place.
But the biggest hassle will be the convoluted methods GRNSW uses to display what it has got. Formguides are overloaded with flowery bits and pieces which are either unnecessary or which should be made available by a separate request. WA already does that (using hyperlinks) on its existing excellent formguide while Victoria also offers extra information in separate parts of its website.
The outcome is that GRNSW formguides take up extra space â from 20 to 40 pages per meeting depending on how many past runs are required. Even then, the tiny font is difficult to read, particularly in poor light. In Victoria, you get one page to a race, with everything you need.
GRNSW results pages are set up in a similar unfriendly way. Only one race at a time can be printed out. In Victoria results for the whole meeting can be downloaded and printed out in one or two pages, depending on how much detail you want.
Neither formguides nor results are readily downloadable, either in plain language or in a computer-readable format (as they are in Victoria), and you lose all the box numbers on the way (ditto for field lists). Presumably, this is GRNSWâ way of stopping outsiders from getting hold of complete information. But to do that they have chucked out the baby with the bathwater. GRNSW seems not to realise that all over the country, hundreds or possibly thousands of people are beavering away with their own favourite computer programs in an effort to beat the books. To do that sensibly they need form that is computer-readable. In this day and age, anything else is all too hard so punters will be tempted to look elsewhere.
But why would GRNSW want to do that? It certainly makes life more difficult for everyone. Perhaps it wants to keep a tight rein on TABs and bookies who use (and pay for) racefield lists yet there are only a handful of those and it would be blindingly obvious if a commercial operator was trying to sneak under the fence.
And why should NSW adopt a completely different attitude to other states, none of which restrict access? Bloodymindedness is the only logical answer.
All this parallels the sloppy NSW attitude to local sectional times. The main circle tracks are fair in this respect, but only for the longer trips, not for short ones. Other clubs seem not to care. The three Northern Rivers TAB tracks, plus Tweed Heads, Maitland, Bulli and Canberra all provide a mixed bag, or no times except for the leader, or sometimes none at all. Some used to do better, but seem to have tired of the effort. Consequently, dogs move on to bigger tracks with gaping holes in their form. (That occurs daily now for viewers wanting to use Queensland formguides, which invariably contain lots of runs from northern NSW).
Already, punting on NSW races therefore suffers from an information deficit, and what is offered is hard to get hold of. Five states, or 76% of the Australian effort, will soon be lumbered with that burden. Itâs a funny way to encourage extra business but it will certainly push more people across the border into Victoria (together with many of the stateâs better dogs). Or to the gallops, which have no such data problems.
(Note: Wouldnât it be great if that national form database was linked with the existing Stud Book so that people could check which produced what amongst sires and dams? The very useful Greyhound-Data website supposedly does that and it also has international coverage but, while its breeding info is excellent, its race data is absolutely useless).
CASH ON THE SIDE?
Strictly speaking, I am not a huge horse fan, but I have to admit that when the gallops put a meeting on free-to-air I take a much closer interest. That used to be only for the big carnivals but now Channel Seven is doing it on 27 Saturdays a year on its 7Two digital channel after doing a deal with TVN, which is now competing strongly with SKY.
In an effort to build its business â and hopefully its profitability â TVN is paying Seven $2.2 million a year to run the service. However, while Seven is having a ball selling advertising, rumours persist that TVN, owned by major gallops clubs, is still in financial strife. And it has been looking unsuccessfully for months for a new CEO. Apparently, many canât see its potential and have turned it down
is locked into SKY, of course, but it makes you wonder how much good would come from a similar free-to-air deal for selected races. After all, more exposure would benefit Tabcorp which is SKYâs owner. Mind you, having SKY/Tabcorp paying the code for rights to film its races would be a big step forward, too. Just like the football.
Either way, with half a dozen or more extra digital channels presenting monotonous sit-com repeats, there might be an opportunity to offer live action and get some good publicity. And more publicity equals more punters.
NOTE FOR TRACK DESIGNERS
Below is a quote from justracing.com.au following reports of a track fall at Toowoomba gallops.
âJustracing understands that there is a group of senior Toowoomba riders who will refuse to ride at the “inner grass” meeting that is scheduled for next Saturday at Clifford Park, as they believe the track is too tight, so there is an interesting few days ahead on any developments thereâ.
If only greyhounds had jockeys, how our tracks would improve.