Guide To Greyhound Racing | At The Races (2024)

Here’s aquestion: Is it easier to back winners in horse-racing or greyhound racing?

Some wouldsay knowledge is key. If you know little about greyhounds surely the odds arestacked against you? But consider this, many greyhounds run at the same trackand over the same trip on average once a week.

Compare thatto trying to equate horses who can race left or right-handed, at a gallopingtrack or around a sharp circuit, on a flat or undulating course – and that’sbefore you even up weigh up the merits of the jockey.

Evaluating a greyhound’s optimumrequirements is therefore not only easier to determine but comes with moresolid evidence given the greater volume of data available.

But how canthe novice greyhound punter dissect this information to give themselves thebest possible chance of backing winners?

In terms ofform study, greyhound racing’s popularity over almost one hundred years has inno small part been down to the ability of its participants to repeatedlydemonstrate consistency in their performance.

Given a clear run and underoptimum conditions many greyhounds will show little variation from run to run.

Of course,it’s not as simple as merely identifying the fastest dog in each race.Greyhounds don’t race in lanes or even on straight tracks and bumping andcrowding is inevitable as runners vie for position.

But not inevery race. When experts are asked about the three most important aspects whentrying to find the winner of a greyhound race the most common response is draw,draw and draw!

Whatdetermines where a greyhound is drawn? Individual greyhounds are categorised as railers,middle runners (‘m’ on the racecard) or wide runner ('w' on the racecard) depending on theproximity of their running style to the inside rail.

Guide To Greyhound Racing | At The Races (1)

What are Graded and Open races?

Tounderstand the intricacies of the sport it is important to know that there aretwo types of greyhound race – ‘Open’- for the elite runners and the morecommon ‘graded’ races – although there is a strong cross-over between themboth.

While thevery top class greyhounds compete only in the highest level Open races, manyOpens are contested by greyhounds who also run in graded races.

The mostsignificant Open race competitions are deemed Category One events, comparableto Group One races in horse-racing.

There areapproximately sixty of these staged each year (shown as ‘OR1’ on the racecard)and they are contested by the highest-class greyhounds. These are headlined bythe Greyhound Derby but also include many valuable Premier Greyhound Racingbacked competitions such as the St Leger and Oaks.

Category One competitions aregenerally staged over three rounds with the qualifiers from the opening round,usually the first three, moving onto the semi-finals from where from the sixfinalists are determined.

Next in thepecking order are Category Two competitions (OR2) and then minor Open racecompetitions – deemed Category Three (OR3) – followed by one-off Open races(OR).

In all Openraces, the racing manager at the host track will select the runners based onentries received from licensed trainers across the country. Open races oftenhave restricted conditions allowing eligibility only from puppies, bitches orBritish Bred greyhounds.

Graded raceswhich make up the vast majority of races staged are contested by greyhoundswhose trainers are ‘attached’ to a particular track. The highest grade is 1,with the standard four bend (ie full circuit) top grade race at any track being A1 and the lowestperhaps A10 or A11.

Some tracksalso have a second four-bend trip, usually with a slightly shorter run to thebend, shown as a ‘B’ race on the card.

Gradedsprint races, run over two bends, use the ‘D’ prefix with D1 the top grade,while staying races, contested over six bends use the prefix ‘S’.

Lesser used‘E’ races indicate marathons which are staged over two laps or further, while‘H’ signifies a hurdle race.

The prefix ‘T’ is used for trials – for example, ‘T3’ indicates trial race with three runners.

In terms ofthe allocation of traps there is a fundamental difference between Open races -where it is determined using a random ballot - and graded raceswhere the racing manager will allot traps based on a combination of theindividual runners requirements but also with the aim of producing a fair andcompetitive race.

Which takesus back to the importance of the draw.

To be inwith the best possible chance of winning a greyhound requires a race set-upthat will allow them the greatest likelihood of achieving a trouble-free run.

So how can we use the racecard to assess which greyhound has the right conditions?

As mentionedearlier the runners for an Open race are based on the entries received andwhile ideally these would comprise an equal mix of rails, middles and widerunners, that is often not the case.

And at thisstage it should also be noted that while some ‘railers’ have a proximity torace as close as possible to the inside running rail others prefer a racingposition more akin to lane two or perhaps even a touch wider.

With middleand wide runners also having their own individual running traits, it thereforeisn’t difficult to appreciate the significance of the draw in any Open race.For example, the considerable advantage a ‘rails hugging’ greyhound drawn intrap one might hold when facing five rivals all of whom are seeded middle orwide.

While in agraded race it is the Racing Manager that determines the race make-up(rails/middles and wides) and how they are drawn, these races also frequentlyprovide winning opportunities for well-drawn greyhounds. The racing official isonly able to select from the runners available and this does not always equateto the optimum distribution of runners.

Look forgreyhounds with an unfamiliar draw e.g. a regular trap two runner whose racecomments suggest a propensity to edge to the rails being drawn in trap three.Or a sole wide runner in trap six drawn outside a trap five rival with ‘middle’race comments that usually competes from trap four.

Guide To Greyhound Racing | At The Races (2)

The importance of early speed

If agreyhound's draw is key to its chance, its early speed is arguably the secondmost important ingredient and the expression ‘early pace wins the race’ isalways one to keep in mind.

For manyexperienced punters it is not the greyhound’s final time on the racecard thatis considered the most significant but rather its split – the time from thetraps to the line first time.

This is particularly the case when assessing fourbend races. For greyhounds who compete in graded races the card will displaymultiple lines of form for each runner over the same track and trip making iteasy to compare individual split times.

Interest isaroused when a greyhound appears to have an obvious chance of poaching anuncontested lead - for example a railer in trap three whose splits areconsiderably quicker than the two dogs to its inside. The key component isconsistency and a greyhound that produces a series of fast split times faroutweighs one who can occasionally ‘fluke’ a break.

A consistentpattern of official racing comments indicating ‘Quickly Away or QAw’ will soondraw your eye to this type of runner and while they can sometimes be deemed onedimensional they will yield plenty of success especially when handicapped at alevel below their peak.

For manyexperts however ‘Early Pace or EP’ is considered an even better attribute –that is a greyhound’s ability to ‘pace up’ or noticeably quicken in theinitial stages of a race even if they do not ‘ping’ the traps. While its splittimes still need to be competitive it is the ability to secure a clear run tothe turn that is considered the most important.

Guide To Greyhound Racing | At The Races (3)

There islittle that will thrill and impress a true greyhound enthusiast more thanwitnessing a top class greyhound unleashing an electric burst of early pace buteverything is relative and any dog, whatever its level, that can inject achange of gear on the run-up will win plenty of races.

Whileidentifying the ‘speed of the speed’ in a race will unlock plenty of winners,there will always be examples of races that are similarly set-up for thestronger finisher. Those dogs that find themselves in a racelittered with early pace types can of course be just as valuable.

What about age and sex?

Chiefamongst other winner finding tools must be improving puppies (greyhounds undertwo years of age), particularly in graded races where the speed of theirprogression can constantly outwit the handicapper.

Watch outalso for bitches returning from seasonal rest particularly as they approach 16weeks after their season date which is generally considered the time they willhit peak form. Often those running in graded races will have returned at aslightly lower level than the one they were competing in pre-season and oncethey start to find form the hint should be taken. On a more general note,following a bitch in form, regardless of whether or not they have been inseason, remains one of the greyhound racing’s best sources for winner finding.

What otherapproaches are worth considering?

Whilegreyhounds grades are not interchangeable across the tracks, for examplean A1winner at one track would struggle to hold its own at another venue with astronger profile of greyhound, the grading system itself holds up well acrossindividual tracks. In other words, an experienced greyhound dropped from say A4to A5 would generally be seen to be more competitive at the lower level. Lookout for well established greyhounds first time back in a lower gradeparticularly with a winning line of form at that level still showing on theracecard.

Trainers whoswitch to a different track can also be a good source of winners especially iftheir greyhounds are seemingly contesting weaker races than at their previousvenue. Be ready to act as soon as the kennel hits a winning streak. Similarcomments also apply to individual graded greyhounds that move to a new trainerat a different track. Some are simply better suited to their new surroundingsand/or new ‘home’ track.

There are,of course, many ways to find winners but if you’re planning on taking aserious approach to cracking the code there is no substitute for using youreyes. Watch as many races as you can, note the greyhounds you deem unlucky orthe ones you think can win again. By all means specialise in one or two tracks,or in certain disciplines – Open race stayers maybe or if it works for you A1runners at your preferred track. But whatever your chosen method of play, ifyou put the work in the rewards will come.

Guide To Greyhound Racing | At The Races (2024)

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