Still Dreaming Of The Derby

| May 10, 2018 | Reply

I’ve got something a little bit special for you today with the fourth in a brand new series of articles from a true sporting insider.

Our man, known as ‘The Grader’, is a former bookmaker and greyhound racing grader and current greyhound racing owner…

His dog is entered for the Greyhound Derby this summer and he is going to share every step of the journey with the Betting Rant.

I hope you enjoy it and, as always, if you have any questions or feedback you can reach us at bettingrant@agorapub.co.uk.

Matt Houghton

P.S. If you’d like apply insider secrets to your own betting then take a look at this.


The Greyhound Derby – Seeds and Guards

If we want the racing to be as competitive, as fair and as free from trouble as I am sure we all do then seeding and guards have to come into the equation…

Guards simply ensure that two or more greyhounds under the same registered ownership do not compete against each other in the first two rounds of the heats.

There were no clashes of guards in the first round draw but in the second round with so many fewer contestants the chances of one such arising is magnified and, sure enough, it happened…

The process employed is that that particular dog is put aside while another is drawn and then the former is returned to the drum to be drawn again later.

The issue with this method is that it is at least feasible that as the number of traps and heats still available diminish there might ONLY be places remaining where a clash is inevitable…

The governing body were in attendance at the draw and were clearly aware of this possibility as they took a moment to check the permutations as the draw progressed.

Personally I would have been interested to see it happen and consequently what method was available to avoid the issue. I can’t be sure but I suspect it would have to have involved allocating rather than drawing traps and heats to at least two dogs.

It is interesting to ask why we have guards at all; I tend to believe it is so all entries an owner might have are given the best chance to progress to the final…

At £300 per entry that insurance against knocking one’s other dogs out oneself should surely be afforded to owners of multiple dogs.

Rather more cynical commentators might suggest it guards against owners and/or trainers winning with the outsider of two or more in a betting coup…

I reject that notion and point to an episode of Only Fools and Horses where Del Boy asks Lord Maylebury if his racehorse will be “trying” when it runs in the Derby. It’s the Derby! We will all be trying is the somewhat inevitable riposte.

Another method of overcoming this for betting purposes is the concept of ‘coupling’ which is used in trotting races in some states of the USA and even in the short-lived provision of trotting at Wolverhampton racecourse, whereby if two horses from the same stable compete the bettor wins if either is successful no matter which particular horse he has actually selected. Readers might know this as the Ecurie system used in French racing.

Sowing the seeds

Seeding has changed only a little over the years – we have been familiar with dogs being seeded rails or wide for many a year but in the mid-eighties I attended a greyhound conference in Russell Square London where, almost without exception, the delegates were in favour of adding middle seeding to the railers and wide runners…

For reasons which I still don’t understand the governing body at the time, the NGRC, were strangely reluctant.

Of course we know now that the clamour for middle seeding was too loud to be ignored and eventually this important contribution to safety was authorised.

While all tracks accept middle seeding as an option for dogs entered in open races, by no means do they all extend that to their own graded races…

The fact is that they don’t need to as the Racing office may, in accordance with the rules of racing, allocate traps in these races in such a way as should be conducive to good racing…

It might be argued by extension therefore that they don’t need to show which runners are wide seeds either but that is an issue for another day perhaps.

But back to this year’s Derby and no matter what the trainer or owner might think, the Racing Office and, more particularly, the Racing Manager is the final arbiter as to what seeding is attached to any runner.

This year we have had five seeding changes between the first and second round and I would be interested to know whether these were requested by connections or unilaterally applied by the Racing Office…

It would also be interesting to know if any other alterations were requested and rejected.

As we look into this a little further I would like to take Conors Blake as an example…

In round one as a middle seed he ran from trap 4. However the seeding is now changed and hence he is officially a railer.

I don’t dispute at all that coming out of trap 4 there has been some contact with the 3 dog on his inside in round one but it seems to me that he ran wider than the Hatmore Black in 6 at the first bend and 6 was of course seeded wide.

At Towcester on 18th April the official comments on Conors Blake included the term middle and the same thing at Harlow on 19th March.

Of course I am not privy to any discussions which may have taken place prior to the change being made but it concerns me a little that a dog who was previously deemed a middle seed is now running in the second round heat six, out of trap 1.

Compare this with Searchforahero who has retained his middle seeding and who drew 5 in the first round and 5 again in the second round largely due to the preponderance of railers in the competition…

It lends some credence to the opinion of one online acquaintance who believes that some connections of middle runners are seeding their charges as railers and taking their chances of getting trap 3 or 4 rather than risk being drawn in the wider berth of 5. I couldn’t possibly comment of course and by no means do I suggest that that might be the case with Conors Blake.

What we can be assured of is that there are some very interesting match ups and we may well see some more very fast dogs failing to qualify…

Most, if not all, bookmakers will pay out the place part of an each-way bet for a selection simply reaching the final and with 96 dogs still in with a chance that might be the value bet at this stage.

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