Advice From The Greyhound Betting Experts (1)

This month sees the first of a series of blogs reviewing the advice on betting provided in books written by greyhound racing experts over the years. Compared with the number and variety of books available to assist the horse racing punter, fans of dog racing haven’t been anywhere near as well served. Nevertheless, those books that have found a publisher often set out sound principles on which a solid betting strategy can be built. In this and subsequent blogs I intend to highlight a selection of the salient points that illustrate the writer’s thoughts on how greyhound racing form may be assessed. I must add that, while these are not necessarily representative of my own views, they are equally valid and quite possibly more useful!

This month we’ll look at a book – sadly, long out of print – that has had a lasting influence on my own betting, and I acknowledge my debt to the writer in my book, Greyhound Racing: Make It Pay. The book in question – actually more of a slim, paperback booklet of only 48 pages - is Greyhound Racing for Profit, written in 1988 by Liam Connolly and published by Raceform. It contains a foreword by Alex Bird, one of the most fearless and successful punters of the twentieth century, in which he endorses the value of recorded racetimes in both horse and dog racing. Bird says that he learned a lot from a greyhound time specialist when evolving his own approach to using the clock in the evaluation of racehorse performance. He remembers evenings spent at the greyhound track, and going home with his pockets ‘full of white fivers’.

Today’s fivers may be of a rather less appealing greenish hue, and worth a mere fraction of Alex Bird’s wad of notes, but it would still be nice to have a pocket full of them after the last race. That being the case, what hope does Connolly’s book offer of such a felicitous outcome? Here are Connolly’s insights into:

1. Backing favourites

Connolly advises punters not to be influenced by a dog’s position in the market, especially if it has been put in as favourite or second favourite by the bookmakers. He argues that favouritism does not necessarily reflect a dog’s form, and may not even be the dog that most pundits consider to have the best chance of winning. He makes the point that the favourite is often simply the dog that the bookmakers believe will be most popular with punters. He contends that the initial prices offered by bookmakers are often based on their reading of punters’ intentions, rather than actual demand.

2. Understanding greyhound form

Connolly compares the assessment of greyhound form and horse race form. He is of the opinion that greyhound form is easier to evaluate because it is much more straightforward. As long as they can see the hare, greyhounds will run as fast as they can until the winning post is reached. Given a clear run and good health, they will reproduce their best running time and again, so that a dog that is two lengths better than its rival in one race will still be two lengths better the next time they meet. By contrast, a racehorse may beat another by two lengths, but that margin of victory may have much to do with the tactics employed by the jockey; it’s quite possible that he could have won by further had he so wished. In other words, you can’t always take horse race form literally; it’s open to interpretation.

3. Which races to bet in

Connolly is quite clear on this: graded racing offers the best betting opportunities, so long as you stick to the higher grades. He suggests concentrating on grades A1 to A3, which cater for the faster and more reliable type of greyhound.

4. Which types of races to avoid

As a general principle, Connolly advises avoiding betting in Open races, believing that it is too difficult to compare form from different tracks. However, he makes an exception of Open race competitions which require the greyhounds to run in heats. In these cases greyhounds that have made it through to the semi-final or final will have form over the track and distance that is easily comparable.

Connolly is not keen on handicap racing, even though they would appear to give the punter a reasonable chance of success. He considers that the advantage gained by the minimisation of crowding at the first bend is nullified by the difficulty in evaluating the effect of the imposition of extra distance as a penalty for a previous handicap win. Similarly, he doesn’t feel that hurdle racing offers many opportunities to the punter, as there are not enough races run to accumulate a solid body of form.

5. Time and grade

Time is the fundamental building block of greyhound form. Connolly discusses the ways in which the grader can penalise a greyhound that wins in fast time: he can upgrade him, compel him to run from a different trap, or pit him against dogs whose running style will make life more difficult for him. The grader has, theoretically, an easier job than the racehorse handicapper, who has to allocate weight for future races on the basis of his own subjective interpretation of the value of a win. However, the grader’s decision is complicated by the limited availability of dogs to choose from in any particular grade. Owing to illness, injury or bitches on seasonal rest, the grader may not be able to grade a race as closely as he would like, and this can be exploited by the backer.

More from Liam Connolly’s book next month.

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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