Downgraded Dogs

The smooth functioning of graded racing at the UK’s 26 tracks which race under GBGB rules depends upon the integrity and ability of the racing managers who decide which grade a greyhound should compete in on any particular day. The accurate upgrading and downgrading of greyhounds are crucial to the success of the system. Logic demands that a dog that is winning comfortably in a certain grade should, sooner rather than later, be given a more difficult task to accomplish. By the same token, a runner that is struggling to make a mark in its current grade should, at some point, be given a less exacting opportunity to win by being dropped into the grade below.

I say ‘at some point’ because the length of time that a greyhound is asked to compete in a grade that is clearly too demanding for it can vary widely from track to track. Of course, the decision as to when a dog should be downgraded depends on the racing manager’s professional evaluation of the greyhound’s racing character and overall capabilities, and he knows them better than most. His decision may also be influenced by the number of dogs currently available to race in a particular grade. It does seem, though, that some dogs that are crying out for a downgrade are kept longer than is strictly necessary at a level at which they are uncompetitive. Running up a long losing sequence cannot be good for a greyhound’s confidence.

When deciding if a downgraded dog is worth a bet, the backer needs to consider whether it has been demoted because it is running badly, or because the racing manager has opted to give it a chance to record a win after a series of brave but unsuccessful efforts in the higher grade. Look carefully at the dog’s form over the last month. If it’s an early-paced dog, has it been competitive at the traps and up to the first two bends before being run out of it in the latter part of the race? It may be trapping well and racing handily, but just lacking the pace to go clear. Once it is downgraded, the same dog may be able to put a length or two of daylight between itself and its rivals at the first bend, thus getting the clear run that wasn’t possible against slightly classier dogs.

Similarly, a greyhound that does all its best work from the third or fourth bend to the winning line might, in the higher grade, get too far behind in the early stages to reel in the dogs with good early and middle pace. When it is dropped a grade it’s more likely to be able to lie up with the other dogs down the back straight and pick them off one by one on the run to the line.

The above examples are of dogs that are over faced in their current grade but are nevertheless performing with credit. They are overdue a win, and the racing manager is prepared to reward their efforts by downgrading them. These situations give the backer an opportunity to cash in, provided that the odds on offer are acceptable. On the other hand, downgraded dogs to avoid are those that have been showing little or no sparkle in their previous races. A dog may be jaded after a long spell of racing and in need of a break, or it may be carrying a low-grade injury that is difficult to spot but enough to take the edge off its competitiveness. Whatever the reason, a downgrade is unlikely to bring about an improvement until the cause of the dog’s poor form has been addressed. Once this is done it may give hints that it is ready to win again. The sectional times of an early-paced dog may start to improve, or a stayer may run on more strongly in the closing stages. Then, when housed in its favourite trap and possibly supported in the market, the dog is again a contender. However, it will always be more risky to support a downgraded dog that has been badly out of form in the higher grade than one that has continued to run decent races without winning and is due a change of fortune.

The A3 race at Sheffield on 20th April won by Bandicoot Jock is a good example of what to look for. A fawn dog by Van’s Escalade, Bandicoot Jock had finished third in an A2 in his previous race after taking a bump at the first bend. Prior to that he had run respectably in his other A2 races, and was the only dog in the current race to have been downgraded. Wearing his favoured striped jacket, and with a dog inside him that preferred to run middle to wide, Bandicoot Jock was assured a clear run. Well supported in the market, he went off at 9/4 joint favourite and duly won by 3½ lengths.

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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