Identifying Improving Greyhounds

In horse racing it’s possible to make a profit by latching onto a horse that is improving more quickly than the handicapper can keep up with. A recognised ploy by shrewd trainers in the past (less so now that the stewards are much more vigilant) was to get a horse ‘handicapped’ by running it down the field in maiden races as a two year old. It would then start its three year old season carrying less weight in handicaps than its latent ability deserved, and the plan would be to run up a sequence of victories before the handicapper got its measure.

A similar principle (entirely within the rules, of course!) applies in greyhound racing. The aim is to spot a greyhound that has the potential for improvement, and to back it until its winning run comes to an end. Whereas a racehorse is given extra weight to carry as it improves, the greyhound is penalised by being moved up the grading scale. The grader obliges it to compete against dogs of better class, until it finds its true level. So, where do we look for greyhounds that are likely to improve on what they’ve shown on the track so far – and, importantly, are a step ahead of the grader?

1. Newcomers to the track

These are dogs that have been racing at another track with success in a similar, or higher, level of competition. Prior to its first graded race at a new track a dog must run in three trials on separate days. At least two of the trials must be over the distance it is to compete at, and a minimum of two trials must be with at least two other greyhounds. A newcomer may need a bit of time to acclimatise to its new surroundings. As it does it will show improvement in its trial times, but its best trial time may still be short of what it was capable of at its previous track. On the basis of its best trial time, the grader will enter it in graded races appropriate to that time. But if there is further improvement to come, an opportunity may arise to back a greyhound that is competing at a lower level that its ability dictates.

For that reason it is well worth checking up on what a greyhound was capable of at its previous venue. You can find this information on the Greyhound Board of Great Britain website. On the home page click on ‘Results’ and type in the dog’s name. With the exception of the top tracks like Wimbledon, the grading scale at most tracks is broadly similar in terms of the dogs’ ability; for example an A3 race at Oxford and an A3 at Swindon would cater for dogs of similar class. Not only will you be able to get an idea of what a newcomer is capable of, you will also see under what conditions the dog produces its best form, and its favoured style of running.

2. Young dogs rapidly improving through the grades.

Look for dogs between eighteen months and two and a half years old whose trial times and / or racetimes are on an upward curve. They are clearly learning how to run the track as they gain experience and should be able to translate this into success. Particularly interesting are dogs that haven’t won yet, but have been supported in the market to do so. Connections will be aware of their ability, but immaturity or bad luck may have prevented them from showing their best form.

You may not manage to cash in on their first success. But once they have won, note the ease of their victory and the finishing time. It is useful to know what the average winning time is for each grade. Then you can gauge whether a dog’s winning time is moderate, good or outstanding for the grade. Average grade times can be calculated by taking the average of 50 recent winning times. For example, if the average winning time for A5 grade at Swindon was 29.75 seconds, then a young dog winning on its A5 debut in a time of 29.50 seconds could reasonably be expected to possess the potential to win in A4 in the not too distant future. Conversely, if it won in 29.85 seconds, it would be sensible to wait for further evidence of its ability rather than rushing to back it next time out.

3. Bitches returning from seasonal rest

When they return from seasonal rest, bitches often make startling improvement. They may not be able to show their best form immediately, but they often begin to show evidence of a return to form around sixteen weeks after their seasonal date. There is, though, considerable variation between individual dogs. Please go to my January 2012 blog for a fuller discussion on this.

September 2018
Focus On Poole
August 2018
Focus On Perry Barr
July 2018
Focus On Nottingham
June 2018
Focus On Newcastle
May 2018
Focus On Monmore Green
April 2018
Focus On Hove
March 2018
Focus On Doncaster
February 2018
Focus On Crayford
January 2018
Focus On Central Park
December 2017
An Index Of Previous Blog Posts
November 2017
Focus On Belle Vue
October 2017
Young Graders To Follow (2)
September 2017
Young Graders To Follow
August 2017
Getting A Clear Run
July 2017
Essential Tools For Greyhound Betting (2)
June 2017
Essential Tools For Greyhound Betting (1)
May 2017
Specialisation (2)
April 2017
Specialisation (1)
March 2017
Qualities Of The Successful Backer
February 2017
Compiling Race Ratings (2)
January 2017
Compiling Race Ratings (1)
December 2016
Racecard Comments : S - X
November 2016
Racecard Comments : M - R
October 2016
Racecard Comments : H - M
September 2016
Racecard Comments : H
August 2016
Racecard Comments : E - H
July 2016
Racecard Comments : B - D
June 2016
Racecard Comments : A - B
May 2016
Form Cycles
April 2016
Keeping An Online Formbook (3)
March 2016
Keeping An Online Formbook (2)
February 2016
Keeping An Online Formbook (1)
January 2016
The Striped jacket
December 2015
The Orange jacket
November 2015
The Black jacket
October 2015
The White jacket
September 2015
The Blue jacket
August 2015
The Red jacket
July 2015
Upgraded Dogs To Avoid
June 2015
Upgraded Dogs
May 2015
Downgraded Dogs
April 2015
Focus on Romford
March 2015
Focus on Swindon (2)
February 2015
Focus on Swindon (1)
January 2015
Exploiting Formline Comments (2)
December 2014
Exploiting Formline Comments (1)
November 2014
Greyhound Racing: Make It Pay (2)
October 2014
Greyhound Racing: Make It Pay (1)
September 2014
Greyhound Betting Expert Advice (6)
August 2014
Greyhound Betting Expert Advice (5)
July 2014
Greyhound Betting Expert Advice (4)
June 2014
Greyhound Betting Expert Advice (3)
May 2014
Greyhound Betting Expert Advice (2)
April 2014
Greyhound Betting Expert Advice (1)
March 2014
The Time Test
February 2014
Recording and Reviewing Your Bets
January 2014
What’s a "grade within a grade"? (2)
December 2013
What’s a "grade within a grade"? (1)
November 2013
Trap Draw
October 2013
Sires To Note
September 2013
Racing Post Summaries (3)
August 2013
Racing Post Summaries (2)
July 2013
Racing Post Summaries (1)
June 2013
Laying Greyhounds On The Betting Exchanges
May 2013
Spotting The Ungenuine Dog
April 2013
Compiling A List Of Greyhounds To Follow
March 2013
Specialisation (2)
February 2013
Specialisation (1)
January 2013
Winter Ground Conditions
December 2012
Front Runners v Strong Finishers
November 2012
October 2012
Identifying Improving Greyhounds
September 2012
Race Ratings (2)
August 2012
Race Ratings (1)
July 2012
Following dogs in form
June 2012
Adopting a professional approach (3)
May 2012
Adopting a professional approach (2)
April 2012
A Greyhound's Win / Lose Ratio
March 2012
Adopting a professional approach (1)
February 2012
Warning To Speed Fans
January 2012
Following Bitches After Seasonal Rest
December 2011
Early Paced Dogs
November 2011
Speed Handicapping (5) : More FAQs
October 2011
Speed Handicapping (4) : FAQs
September 2011
Speed Handicapping (3)
August 2011
Speed Handicapping (2)
July 2011
Speed Handicapping (1)
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