Making the most of formline comments (2)

The ability of a greyhound to take and maintain a prominent position in the early stages of a race is often decisive in determining the eventual outcome. Many races are won or lost at the first bend, and the dog that goes round in front has a significant advantage. It still may not win for any number of reasons, but the first bend leader, provided it stays and is not racing out of its grade, has a favourite’s chance.

For that reason, greyhounds that are able to show consistent early pace in their races can never be ruled out. Start by looking for the abbreviation EP in the formline. Unfortunately tracks vary enormously in their use of this comment. Some, like Poole, regularly describe dogs as having early pace, whilst others use the term EP much less frequently. A quick check through the lifetime form of dogs running at Newcastle reveals that the compiler there hardly ever includes EP in his comments. I consider the use of the term to be most meaningful at a track like Monmore, where the comments compiler uses EP sparingly. There, a greyhound really does have to be capable of blistering early speed to be so described.

At tracks that rarely include the comment EP, there will instead be a short description of how the dog ran in the early stages of the race. Indications of early speed are comments such as Always Led (ALd); Soon Led (SnLd); Led Run Up (LdRnUp); Led to First Bend (Ld-1); Led at First Bend (Ld 1); Disputed Lead (Disp); Always Handy (AHndy); Soon Handy (SnHndy).

As well as taking note of these comments, you can also confirm a greyhound’s early pace by reference to two other pieces of information in the formline. Firstly, check out the dog’s recent sectional times (that is, the time it takes for it to run from the traps to the starting line first time around). If they are, on average, quicker than those of the other dogs in the race, you can be fairly sure that the dog has good early pace relative to its opponents. To be certain that they are fast sectionals in any circumstances, you need to know exactly what is a fast sectional for that track. Look at the formlines for a number of dogs at the track and note the sectionals on those occasions when they have the comment EP. Again using Monmore as an example, a greyhound that is able to record sectionals of around 4.40 seconds on a regular basis has good early pace, whereas a dog that struggles to run quicker than 4.50 seconds is either a slow starter or lacks early pace. Incidentally, a few tracks, of which Perry Barr is one, sometimes use the comment Lacked Early Pace (Lck EP).

The second way to check a dog’s early speed is by reference to its position at the first bend. As I mentioned in last month’s blog, a dog’s position at each of the bends is found in the formline just before its final finishing position. A greyhound which, in its last five races, has a series of bend positions such as: 2124; 1111; 2133; 3124; 1345; 2222 is clearly a dog with useful early pace.

What about middle pace? A greyhound with the ability to power away from the second bend, showing blistering speed down the back straight and leaving its rivals in its wake, is a wonderful sight at any level of the sport. The added bonus of good middle pace is that it puts the dog in a strong position to avoid trouble at the last two bends and, if good enough, to put the race to bed. Comment compilers don’t use the term Middle Pace, so instead look for comments such as Led ½ (Led at halfway), Led 3 or Led 4 (Led 3rd or 4th bend).

Taking a prominent position at the third or fourth bend lays the groundwork for a successful run, but it may all be in vain if there is a doubt about the dog’s stamina at the trip, or it can only run on at one pace in the finishing straight. In these circumstances it will be vulnerable to the stronger finish of a stout stayer. One of the best bets in graded racing is the wide runner with the enough early and middle pace to stay in touch with the pack and the ability to come with a powerful late run to cut down the leaders close home.

There are several formline comments to note here. To be sure that a greyhound has the requisite stamina, look for a winning performance that includes the remarks Led Run In (LdRnIn) or Led Near Line (LdNrLn). Whether a dog wins or loses, the comments Ran On (RnOn) or Ran On Well (RnOnWll) confirm that it stays every yard of the trip. Even better is the dog that attracts the comments Finished Well (FinWll) or Strong Finish (StrFin). I would always be interested in this type of dog on big, galloping tracks like Nottingham, Sheffield and Perry Barr.

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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