The Red Jacket

If greyhound racing were staged over a straight track, the fastest dog would win nine races out of ten, and there would be few bookmakers willing to offer prices. The fact that greyhound tracks are oval in shape, so that the dogs have to run bends, means that sheer speed is not the only requirement of the racing greyhound. A dog must be able to run a curve without losing momentum, and also be able to hold his (or her) line around the curve. Greyhounds vary greatly in their ability to maintain this line, which is dependent upon their natural balance and their muscular strength and coordination. Greyhounds that can resist the centrifugal forces that come into play as they enter a bend will be suited by a trap draw close to the rails. The small, nippy type of greyhound is most suited to hugging the rails.

True railers will run as close to the fence as they can, and by doing so are at an advantage, since they are taking the shortest way round. Over a 500 metre course a greyhound racing from the middle traps will run approximately four metres further than the railer, and the wide runner about eight metres further. Another advantage that the railer can exploit is the reduced likelihood of encountering trouble in running, since he has only one other dog – on his outside – to get in his way, at least in the early stages of the race. If he can avoid the dog in Trap 2 and secure a clear run, his chance of success will be greatly enhanced. To do this consistently the railer must be able to trap fast and show early pace. A slow-trapping railer is immediately at a huge disadvantage. Before reaching the first bend he’ll be blocked off by faster trappers on his outside coming over to the rails. From then on he’ll be looking for a way through which may never materialise, or if it does it may be too late to matter.

So the first quality to look for in a greyhound wearing the red jacket is the ability to get away quickly from the traps. But what is it that makes a fast trapper? Certainly, natural ability plays its part, and it may be that the best sires pass on their own trapping skills to their sons and daughters. And a good trainer can improve a dog’s trapping. The outstanding trainer, Charlie Lister, describes in Julia Barnes’ book Charlie Lister on Greyhounds (First Stone 2004) how he goes about sharpening up a greyhound that isn’t trapping well: ‘I would start by giving him a few handslips on the gallops. I find that this usually helps.’

Lister is interesting on the different ways in which greyhounds trap. Some, he says, listen for the sound of the hare approaching, and then trap at the first sight of the hare. H. Edwards Clarke, in his book Win at Greyhound Racing (Oldcastle Books 1988), says that he has watched greyhounds ‘cocking their ears for what may be the first mechanical click intimating that the traps are about to spring’. Other dogs, Lister continues, have their eyes firmly fixed on the lid of the trap, ready to go as the lid lifts. This way of trapping benefits the greyhound if there’s a lot of noise in the stadium as the hare approaches, as on finals night of a big competition. The dog may not hear the hare, but if he’s watching the lids he’ll still trap well.

The layout of individual race tracks can affect a railer’s chances, in particular the distance of the run-up (from the traps to the first bend). On tracks with a short run-up, like Romford and Peterborough, the dog in the red jacket really needs to get a flyer from the traps, whereas tracks like Swindon, with a long run-up, would favour a railer with good early pace.

Finally, I have extracted winning Trap 1 statistics for all tracks over the last six years (source: www.greyhound-data.com):

Percentage of winners from Trap 1 (4 bend races only)

Track 2015 (to date) 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
Belle Vue 17 17 16 20 18 19
Crayford 17 17 16 15 16 19
Hall Green 17 19 14 18 19 14
Henlow 22 19 18 18 20 21
Hove 17 18 17 19 18 18
Kinsley 16 17 18 16 17 17
Mildenhall 16 20 19 16 14 13
Monmore 14 16 17 19 20 17
Newcastle 17 17 17 14 16 16
Nottingham 19 16 17 17 17 18
Pelaw Grange 20 18 16 19 20 19
Perry Barr 15 17 15 16 17 16
Peterborough 17 16 18 17 18 18
Poole 16 17 17 16 15 17
Romford 19 18 18 18 20 19
Shawfield (limited data as most races run as handicaps)
Sheffield 19 19 16 18 18 19
Sittingbourne 18 18 15 18 15 16
Stainforth 13 16 17 16 18 17
Sunderland 16 16 16 17 16 16
Swindon 17 18 16 16 17 19
Towcester 20 18 - - - -
Wimbledon 18 17 17 18 17 16
Yarmouth 18 15 15 15 15 15
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
Weight
 
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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