Specialisation (1)

I’ll start with a quote from Betting for a Living, a book by horse race betting specialist Nick Mordin (Aesculus Press 2003): ‘You must find yourself a small group of horses and specialise in those…..You can make money betting on any group of horses as long as you know more about them than other punters.

Here’s another quote, this time from the financial world. Legendary fund manager Anthony Bolton had this to say about stock market investment: ‘To succeed in investing you need to have a competitive advantage. Our approach is to know more about stocks and sectors than others.

There’s a wealth of wisdom in these words, and they’re equally applicable to betting on greyhounds. Bolton makes the point that knowledge is power and, implicitly, that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Depth of knowledge in any sphere of activity brings with it an inbuilt advantage when in competition with others whose knowledge is less secure. Mordin shows how this knowledge can be gained – by concentrating your efforts on a limited, clearly defined group of horses or greyhounds, and learning as much as is possible to know about each individual animal in the group.

By specialising, you can acquire a fund of knowledge that is sufficient to give you an edge. There is such a vast amount of greyhound racing taking place every day in the UK that specialisation is not so much an option as a necessity. It would be impossible to study the form at around 25 tracks, with a variety of different grades and distances at each track, in anything but a superficial way. No one would have the time to digest the amount of detail about individual dogs necessary to gain a competitive edge. You can overcome this problem by specialising, and the amount of time you have at your disposal to analyse form will determine the degree of specialisation that’s required.

The areas of specialisation that you might choose will fall broadly into three categories: track, type of race and distance.


You might decide to concentrate your efforts on your local track, especially if you are a regular visitor. There’s nothing better than watching greyhounds run from trackside to get a real feel for the game and to appreciate the many factors that can affect the outcome of a race. By specialising in one track, or a small number of tracks, you can gain an insight into the particular qualities that a dog needs to be successful there. I have always limited my betting to tracks where there is a reduced risk of trouble in running. Of course, there will nearly always be trouble of some sort in the course of a greyhound race. That is the nature of the sport and it has to be accepted. But I prefer such trouble to be minimised and, where possible, predictable.

When you are deciding which track or tracks to bet at, an important factor to consider is the track’s circumference. In Liam Connolly’s excellent booklet, Greyhound Racing for Profit (written in the 1980’s and now, sadly, out of print), he set out his criteria for the ideal track that would provide the best opportunities for the greyhound punter: ‘A big, wide, galloping circuit with a long run to the first bend; easy, banked turns; and a long run in to the winning post.

A long run to the first bend allows dogs with good early pace to put daylight between themselves and the slower, staying types by the time they get to the first corner. For races over the standard four bend distance, tracks that have a good long run to the first bend, of 100 metres or more, include Belle Vue (103m), Doncaster (105m), Hove (105m), Monmore (100m), Newcastle (130m) and Swindon (100m).

The greater the circumference of the track, the easier the bends, and this gives the dogs a better chance of maintaining a true line around the bend. On a tight track with sharp bends, the centrifugal forces exerted on the dogs are more likely to prevent one or more of them from holding their line, resulting in crowding and bumping. Tracks with a circumference of 400 metres or more include Doncaster (438m), Hall Green (412m), Henlow (410m), Hove (455m), Monmore (419m), Newcastle (415m), Nottingham (437m), Perry Barr (435m), Poole (400m), Shawfield (432m), Sittingbourne (443m) and Swindon (452m).

By contrast, Mildenhall has a circumference of only 325 metres. Other tight little circuits are Crayford (334m), Pelaw Grange (345m), Romford (350m) and Harlow (354m). I’m not saying that you shouldn’t specialise in these tracks, but be aware that they pose a greater challenge for the greyhounds that run there in terms of securing a clear run.

In Greyhound Racing: Make It Pay I compared the incidence of trouble in running at tracks of different circumference. I analysed the results of 100 consecutive graded races at Crayford and Romford (tight tracks) and also at Swindon and Sheffield (galloping tracks). I interpreted ‘trouble in running’ as being defined by the following comments: bumped; baulked; impeded; forced to check; forced wide; fell; knocked over.

These were the findings for trouble in running at the first and second bends, where the majority of incidents are likely to take place. The figures in brackets include incidents of crowding; the figures without brackets do not. Crowding is where dogs come close together, mainly on the bends, without actually causing each other significant interference.

Crayford: 67% (96%); Romford: 76% (84%); Sheffield 54% (70%); Swindon 24% (83%).

More on specialisation next month.

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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