On the night Fernando Bale competed and won his heat of the National Sprint Championship I had a lot of Twitter interactions with a few of my followers. I realised there are a lot of greyhound fans out there that don’t really know that much about the dogs they are betting on or even following, aside from reading a form guide, that’s not to say they are ignorant or don’t want to know. There are so many different scenarios that can affect a dog’s performance on the night. It’s not just about how they ran last start or what box they have. Queries were brought up as to the state of a wet track, the wind that was blowing on this particular night, the best size for a race dog and whether a male dog or a bitch are better to bet or easier to train.
So I’ll try and answer some of the questions as they were asked of me.
First off was the weight of a dog, as most should know a greyhound weight cannot vary more or less than 1kg between starts unless it’s last start was more than a month previous and a new weight is declared. I commented that for a circle track I would prefer a dog weighing no more than 34kg, this is my personal choice and by no means a dog larger than that couldn’t win on a circle track. A general rule with stayers is they should be lighter than when their careers first started off as sprinters. The theory is the less weight a dog has to carry (its own weight that is) the less effort that dog needs to exert to run out a 700m+ distance. For sprinters it’s the opposite, a heavily muscled large dog ( think disgraced Olympic Sprinter Ben Johnson) is no hindrance up to 500m. So when looking at weight variations which are released after all dogs have been kenneled it’s worth remembering these tips. Sprinters up in weight or the same should not be a concern and stayers down in weight or the same again should be no concern. The actual weight variations for me personally week to week should be no more or less than ½ a kilo variant.
Another query was whether bitches were less consistent than male dogs. I would say no. When looking back through some of the greats that I’ve seen from Sandi’s Me Mum, Highly Blessed, Miata, Xylia Allen, Sweet It Is to name just a few you couldn’t say they were inconsistent. The main hassle of training a bitch is her seasonal habits, an old school rule of thumb was if a bitch came on season under 2 years of she would come on season on average every 6 months and if she held on over 2 years of age she would be a 12 month cyclical bitch. In some cases a trainer may be lucky enough to have his girl not come on at all while racing. There are legal medications that can be used to keep a bitch off season but if used incorrectly they could lead to a positive swab for excessive hormone levels. Myself I prefer not to use any hormones on my bitches in case I wish to breed with them. I also don’t mind a bitch having a season as it’s a maturing process a canine goes through similar to a girl having a menstrual cycle thus turning her into a woman. The hassle with seasons for racing purposes is a bitch can bleed for up to 21 days and with a swollen vulva it is hard to get a bitch over the vets table in this condition, as it’s also against the rules of racing. She can continue to be worked and once her season is over there is a short time frame she can race before her mammary glands start to fill with milk due to the expectation she is having pups to feed, to run a bitch in milk can be dangerous as she can rupture her glands and do damage to herself.
Now to the track condition query, I’ll start by asking you a question, If you were to go for a jog on the beach where would it be easier to jog? Obviously not in the thick dry sand away from the water’s edge and not in the actual water either, it would be on the part the wave has covered in water and then receded back into the ocean. In theory a track is similar apply enough water and the track should race perfectly, even if light showers persist during the night and the track curator can get their machinery on to groom it there should also be no real change in condition. Now if it’s been pouring all night and the grooming cannot be done between races the paw-prints can’t be filled which would lead to a track downgrade, add to this a very windy night and times should be considerably slower.
I will add one more comment that wasn’t asked that I would like to explain. In another form of Greyhound racing which is called Lure Coursing as opposed to the still practiced Live Lure Coursing in Ireland, is 2 dogs compete against each other up a straight track with the lure dragged along the ground. These races are knock out rounds and the winner of the final will have 3 runs in the 1 day. Generally the runs of these dogs, on average 400m, the dogs run quicker as the day progresses. This shows the versatility of the Greyhound as well as their recovery rate.
So thanks Jack, Joel and Last_selections for your queries during the night and I hope this goes someway to help answer those queries, if you have any more questions you know where to find me @offtrackjock.