Focus on Swindon (2)

With twenty eight tracks racing under Greyhound Board of Great Britain rules, and around a dozen grades at each track, as well as a full schedule of Open Races taking place almost every day of the year, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of greyhound racing. As a result, you may find yourself losing sight of what really matters – the greyhounds themselves. Behind each trap number or name on the betting shop’s wall display is an animal with its own character, preferences, strengths and weaknesses. From a betting viewpoint, the more that the punter knows about the idiosyncracies of individual greyhounds the better.

For this particular punter, the best way to cope with the volume of racing is to reduce it to manageable proportions by specialisation. My approach is to try to know as much as possible about the dogs I bet on. Then, if I have a losing bet, it’s more likely to be due to an error of judgement rather than inadequate preparation.

Swindon is one of the tracks that I like to bet at, and I’m interested in the greyhounds that run in A3. I’ve chosen three greyhounds to write about as examples of the kind of information that I like to have to hand when I’m analysing a race.

Shancol Jay (Trainer: P.T. Maynard)

Shancol Jay is a black April 2013 dog by Black Shaw. At 35 kilos he has the physique to hold his own in a barging match from the middle boxes, though it’s not yet entirely clear what his best line will be. In his last five races he’s twice run rails to middle from Trap 3, and middle three times from Traps 3 and 4. It looks likely that Traps 3 or 4 will suit him best. His trapping is still a work in progress; so far his sectional times have varied between slow to moderate (2.55 – 2.60 seconds) and average to good (2.48 – 2.41seconds). As he is still only nineteen months old, I’m hopeful that he can add consistency to this aspect of his game in due course.

As regards Shancol Jay’s finishing times, they have shown a satisfactory upward curve as he has gained experience and are currently hitting the standard for an A3 winner, which I consider to be 29.38 seconds. Timewise he took a big step forward when winning his first A3 on 18th February, improving from a previous best of 29.63 to 29.39. An upgrade to A2 on his next outing proved a step too far at that stage, one of his slower starts getting him into all sorts of trouble at the first bend. Last time out, again in A2, he showed middle pace to lead at the third bend, but crowded and was left behind by the wide running Corrin Jimbob. He finished second, six lengths behind the winner. It was promising run, and it may have been significant that his price (7/2) was a lot shorter than on his first A2 run.

It remains to be seen whether the grader will keep Shancol Jay in A2. I suspect he will, given the dog’s potential. But if dropped back to A3, and with a decent break, he has the early speed to lead on the run up and repel all challenges.

On The Case (Trainer: Q.P. Bevan)

On The Case is a January 2013 black bitch by Forest Master, a young stud dog standing in County Kildare who is starting to make a name for himself. She made her Swindon debut on 23rd January when starting 7/4 favourite for an A5. Slowly away from Trap 3, On The Case showed useful middle pace to take up the running at the third bend and ran on strongly to win by 4½ lengths in 29.44 seconds, a good time for the grade. The grader was suitably impressed, and when she next appeared it was in an A3.

It’s asking a lot of a young, inexperienced bitch to take a two grade hike in her stride, and at first On The Case struggled to make her mark in A3. On her next four runs she didn’t finish within four lengths of the winner. Part of the problem was her moderate trapping, with her best sectional being 2.49. She needed to get competitive a bit earlier in the race and avoid trouble in order to utilise fully her strength in the later stages. The bookies, though, were taking no chances with her. In those four races she started no longer than 5/2.

On The Case’s most recent run was on 27th February, and it was a real improvement on her A3 form so far. Challenging the eventual winner, Global Alice, from the third bend, On The Case kept on well to be second, beaten half a length, in 29.31, a time which compares favourably with my standard for the grade. On that showing, On The Case is a good bet to break her A3 duck in the near future.

Offshore Cruise (Trainer: P.V. Swadden)

Unlike young, improving greyhounds Shancol Jay and On The Case, my third dog is a stalwart of Swindon’s A3 grade. Offshore Cruise, a February 2011 brindle by Hondo Black, isn’t quite at the veteran stage yet, but with around 130 races on his card, he has nothing more to learn about running this track. Greyhounds like Offshore Cruise are the mainstay of graded racing – tough, genuine, making the most of their ability and a credit to their trainers. I’ve followed this dog through most of its career, and I’ve been impressed with his consistency when at the peak of his form cycle. Most dogs, when they run into form, will maintain it for a period of perhaps three to six weeks. Then, for a variety of reasons, they will decline from that peak and perform at a lower level.

Offshore Cruise’s form has been subject to these same peaks and troughs. But when he is on song he has shown himself capable of remaining competitive for a prolonged period. In 2014, when he was running in A2, he held on to his form from late March until mid-July, winning eight times from twenty-one starts. More recently, as age has started to catch up with him, he has been plying his trade in A3, but with admirable consistency. Since the turn of the year he has won four times in eleven outings, finishing second twice and third twice. He is, admittedly, a bit hit and miss at the traps, and a quick getaway is fairly crucial to his chances. A wide runner, he tends to win by leading early.

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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