The Sunday Afternoon "Finish On"

At its inception, the Speed Star series at Sandown Park represented a new direction for greyhound punters on a number of levels.

Peter Davis

16 May 2021

At its inception, the Speed Star series at Sandown represented a new direction for greyhound punters – wagering on head-to-head contests – with the outcome of the ‘race’ (the fastest trial being the winner) a little confusing at inception.

Once bedded down, punters warmed to the concept and, with this tenth series set down for June 2, excitement and expectation builds.

And now its clear that Paws Of Thunder and Temlee winner Wow will be heading south for the 515m series.

The star sprinter has not raced since finishing second to Tommy Shelby in the Golden Easter Egg at Wentworth Park on April 10 yet a blazing trial over 440m at Goulburn on Friday was ‘çhilling’.

On a day when wind chill had ambient air temperature at only 2 degrees, race times on the day – over 440m – were up to four tenths (or six lengths) slower than expected such was the wind’s affect.

Wow, after the final race, went solo and trialled 24.54 as compared to new track record of 24.26 posted by Melcat Big Boy on April 16.

The x-factor in the 515m series may be the unbeaten Zipping Kansas.

There are many options for Zipping Kansas – the rich Flying Amy series at Albion Park comes quickly to mind – but his relative inexperience will not detract in a Speed Star.

Opportunity to trial (solo) in readily available and the conditions ($10,000 to the series winner over each distance and $5000 to match race winners) makes the Speed Star an appealing target for the explosive, powerful juvenile.

Imagine the fawn dog’s profile, at start four, if he can match or even better the best in the land at just 22 months of age.

This is about speed, it’s about courage, it’s about taking your shot, it’s the best versus the best.

It’s a race for the ages, a battle worth winning and something which really highlights a resume.

THE PECKING ORDER

As of Friday May 14, the fastest qualifiers are Shine Shine (29.003), Zipping Rambo (33.659) and Hank The Hustler (41.380) for the respective distances but there’s time for the pecking order (top eight times) at each distance to chance.

“Trials can be booked for any dog looking to qualify for the Speed Star on any day we race,” Sandown’s Racing and Media Manager Mick Floyd said.

“All qualifiers go through the same race-day process, so interstate dogs tend to trial on Thursday’s while Victorians are restricted to Sundays.

“The dogs on the cusp of getting into the Speed Star are Nangar Rust (29.181 over 515m), Riccarton Rick (34.001 at 595m) while Let’s See holds position eight in the Lizrene over 715m at 41.82.”

For the first time, there will be a draw where dogs ranked one through to four will compete against the four slowest ranked qualifiers.

The boxes dogs attain in the match races works this way: Odds numbers (1, 3, 5 & 7) will start from box one while the even numbers dogs (as per the formguide) will all start from box three.

The make up of the Speed Star will be finalised on Sandown Cup night (May 27) at which time Dave Hobby will have a call to make.

Does Zack Monelli back up for the Lizrene (715m) or some back to 595m? He sits fourth ranked over 595m and second behind Hank The Hustler over 715m.

SO CLOSE

A run which could not have been mixed at Sandown on Thursday was the effort of Silver Chief winner Lakeview Walter.

Cut out soon after the start from box seven, the strikingly marked black and white dog rallied to finish second to NSW raider Fire Legend in 29.49.

Finishing second fails to qualify just how close this finish was. In fact, .001 or one thousandth separated the pair and, as the $2.80 favourite, punters around land waited for some time to be delivered the news.

There is a discernible margin (on high resolution images) but the one below suggests this was too close to call.

Tight: Fire Legend (inside) holds Lakeview Walter at bay at Sandown on May 13. Pic: SGRC

CLOCKED IN

Time is everything in greyhound racing and, over an extended period, Finish Linx times have been significantly adjusted post-race.

At Dapto on Thursday, Opal Rocks dazzled in an all-the-way win over 600m and, to the eye, was really putting time on the board.

Winning by a clear seven lengths, Opal Rocks’ time went up on the back straight semaphore at 34.6 but was soon amended to a record breaking 34.08.

Such a vast amendment was due to the lure not tripping the clock on passing the winning post. The system’s camera aperture is opened during the race with the lure in addition to every dog being ‘clocked’.

With the lure’s time ignored, the second time is posted as the winner’s official time and third become second etc.

On this occasion, the lure did not trip the timing so it was runner-up Nikolina’s time (34.6 and corrected to 34.58) which was initially shown on the semaphore for Opal Rocks.

The explanation might be convoluted but the outcome was correct and such was her strength at the finish, Opal Rocks’ final section over 600m compared favourably with some smart 520m winners on the night.

Correction: Opal Rocks’ record breaking effort at Dapto.

NEW DATA

Seems like breeders in NSW might well receive the stud dog performance data which Greyhounds Australasia seems to think is unimportant or not relevant.

Surely all metrics around a stud dog’s performance should be made available by a regulator and if that’s not GA, then state bodies need to step up.

Fortunately, in NSW, GWIC has seen the light and is working on processes and access for breeders on stud dog performance.

“We want to provide as much information to breeders as we can,” GWIC Chief Executive Steve Griffin said.

“It’s something the industry would expect to happen and the Government wants us to release as much information as possible. We collect fees and regulate breeding, the data is readily available.

‘In the end this is critical information for breeders and we hope to expedite the data as soon as we can.”

When GWIC publishes sire strike rates, pups per litter, method of insemination and the veterinary practitioner, breeders nationwide will have a clearer picture of who’s performing … and who’s not!

DRIVING AND JUDGING

There’s a good deal of backroom negotiation going on in NSW regarding the employment of race day staff.

Unlike the equine codes, greyhound racing relies on one person on race night to be on his/her game for every contest – the lure driver.

For the moment, there is a dearth of experienced lure drivers about and some are entering ‘veteran’ status to say the least.

If greyhound racing is to have certainty around such a critical role, full-time lure drivers, Finish Linx operators/Judges must be in place.

Affordability might be argued in terms of adding more bodies to the GRNSW staffing levels but the day will come – unless moves are made – when a meeting will not be conducted in NSW due off-track staff being absent.

In recent months, GRNSW has taken ownership of the problem but it’s not stemmed the tide.

Rank-and-file participants might not be aware of the issues at hand but they’re real.

CHASING THE DREAM

Sunday May 16 was a big day for greyhound racing in WA and nothing to do with the 12-race card at Mandurah.

After months of planning, Racing & Wagering WA’s Chasing The Dream initiative came to life with more than 60 newcomers to greyhound racing given a first hand insight into the ‘back story’ of how greyhound racing evolves.

The concept has been designed to assist anyone thinking about greyhound ownership to learn what is involved and then to feel supported into taking their next steps.

The “Behind the Scenes Experience” experience, fully funded by RWWA, included visits to Christine and Dave Robartson’s new Stake Hill property before heading to Linda Britton and Chris Halse’s establishment at Nambeelup.

A guided tour of both properties, getting insight from industry icons, the chance to handle three month-old pups, an insight into post-racing outcomes (from Greyhounds As Pets) all before a free lunch at the popular The Cut pub in Dawesville (Mandurah).

RWWA holds three different events for potential new owners and all participants are eligible to win a 10 per cent share in a pup to be reared by Christine and Dave Robartson.

The lucky 10 winners will have all costs covered until the puppy is 18 months of age.

The Chasing The Dream program is a significant step forward for newcomers seeking a safe entry point into greyhound racing and, interestingly, it’s something similar to an outcome GRNSW has under construction.

“The RWWA program looks fantastic and we’ve been fine tuning similar concepts for aspiring NSW participants,” GRNSW Chief Operating Officer Wayne Billett said.

“Syndication is something which we see as a priority in the promotion of greyhound racing and I’m sure the WA concept will be a winner.”

For the moment, all syndicate members need to be registered as participants but it’s something which GWIC is working to streamline.

“We are proposing that only syndicate managers need to be registered persons and they attain integrity, welfare and post-racing responsibility,” GWIC Chief Executive Steve Griffin said.