Form Cycles

The racing greyhound, as I never tire of pointing out, is an amazingly consistent athlete. When a greyhound is fit and healthy, and assuming a clear run, he (or she) can reproduce his optimum time, or very close to it, again and again. From the backer’s perspective, supporting a greyhound that is brimming with good health and running out of his skin will always provide the best chance of being on a winner. Even when the grader makes life more difficult after a win, by upgrading the dog or moving him to a less favourable trap, the benefit of being fit and well can often outweigh the penalties imposed. The in-form greyhound most likely to defy the grader is the fast trapper with good early pace. Using these attributes to go clear on the run up, the really fit dog can take advantage of any crowding or scrimmaging behind to supplement his previous success. An added bonus comes in the shape of attractive odds, since the dog is, in theory, racing out of his comfort zone.

Of course, no greyhound can hold its form indefinitely. Sooner or later there will be a dip in performance, which makes it even more important to cash in when the dog is at the top of his form cycle. In most races there will be one or more greyhounds that are not at the peak of their health and/or fitness. For some, it will be only a temporary problem; they may be suffering from a low-grade muscle injury or an infection not yet identified or remedied by the trainer. It may be so slight as to be scarcely noticeable, yet still sufficient to prevent the dog from producing his best times. For others, it may be symptomatic of a gradual decline in performance due to ageing or chronic injury. Backing dogs on the basis of what they were once capable of achieving, despite their current poor form, is usually a recipe for grave disappointment.

Greyhounds with a sound, tough constitution will be able to remain at or near the peak of their form cycle for several races in succession. Those with a more fragile musculo-skeletal system may not be able to maintain their best form for more than two or three races. If they continue to race it will be at a lower level of performance, and at some stage they will need time off for rest and recuperation.

Graded dogs that are generally sound and healthy will usually keep running through the peaks and troughs of their form cycles. So it’s useful to be able to recognise clues as to where exactly the tipping points are in that cycle; firstly, the point at which a dog that has been in top form begins to show signs of that his good run is coming to an end. Then, the point in the cycle where the dog gives hints that he is about to leave recent below-par performances behind and operate at a higher level.

One straightforward indication is his placings in recent runs. A sequence such as 12113213545 suggests that this particular dog, having maintained an excellent level of form for a certain period of time, is now struggling to sustain it. A sound and healthy grader will often run in five, six or seven graded races a month; so this sequence might represent his last two month’s form. Of course, there may be other reasons why the dog’s form figures have deteriorated. He may have been raised in grade beyond his capabilities; while still running well, he may simply have been over-faced. Back in his proper grade, he may resume his previous good form. So it’s important to look behind the figures to ascertain whether they do in fact provide evidence of a decline in performance.

Similarly, the form figures 6564543232 tell an encouraging story of gradually improving performances, giving cause for optimism that a winning run is not far off. A useful way to confirm that a dog’s form cycle is on an upward curve is to check out his sectional times (the time it has taken to run from the traps to the finish line first time round, also referred to as split times). A dog that is out of form will often be unable to show the early zip that he’s capable of at his best; but if his sectional times are improving, it’s a sign that an upturn in form is imminent. Better sectionals will also usually translate into improvement in final times.

The way a greyhound runs his race may also give a clue to impending improvement. An early paced dog that wins his races by leading from the traps or on the run up may struggle, when out of form, to take a prominent position, and so never get into the race. When his form cycle is on the up, and his split times are improving, he will be more competitive early in the race, even if he doesn’t go on to win. A dog that stays the standard four-bend trip, but only just, will win when in form, but when in the trough of his form cycle will weaken well before the finish line. As he starts to regain his form he will last for longer before giving best, until he finally has the strength and fitness to see out the trip. Likewise a normally sound stayer, if below his best, will just run on at one pace from the fourth bend to the line. When approaching his peak, he will find it much easier to pick up the front runners and to finish off his race strongly.

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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