Getting a Clear Run

The importance of a greyhound obtaining a clear run in a race is something I’ve touched upon on more than one occasion in this blog but, such is its centrality to the task of finding winners, I make no apology for returning to the subject.

The racing greyhound is a wonderfully consistent athlete. When fit and well, it is capable of running over a given distance over and over again in almost identical times. At least, it is if it is allowed a clear run, and that’s the factor that creates the unpredictable element in a greyhound race. Six dogs converge on the first bend at speeds approaching forty miles an hour, tightly bunched, each fighting against the centrifugal forces acting on its body to push it away from the rail. And if it emerges from the first bend unscathed, there’s still another three more to negotiate in a race over the standard distance, not to mention the possibility of having its run checked in the straights.

Whether a dog is a railer, a middle runner or prefers to take a wide route, its chances of success are obviously increased if it is able to steer an unimpeded course up to and around the first bend. The factor that will do most to ensure a clear passage in the early stages of a race is the same whichever trap the dog runs from: has it got the pace to get clear of the dog(s) drawn next to it?

What we’re looking for here is evidence of superior early pace, and in a dog’s formlines there are three clues to its ability in that department:

Firstly, its sectional or ‘split’ times; that is, the time it takes to run from the traps to the winning line first time round. Split times will vary from course to course, depending upon where the traps are placed in relation to the winning line. This variation may be between 2.5 and 6 seconds. It would be more informative if split times were calculated from the traps to the first bend, since we use them to determine which dog will reach the first bend in the lead. However, this is not how it’s done in the UK, so we just have to work with the data we’ve got. Another minor problem is that the split times given in a dog’s formline don’t include a going allowance as final times do, but from a practical point of view I haven’t found this to be a significant drawback.

When looking at a dog’s split times, I don’t just concentrate on its most recent time, but take into consideration the split times it has recorded in all its races over that distance in the past month, which could be as many as seven. These allow me to estimate with a fair degree of accuracy how a dog is likely to perform in the early stages of a race.

For ease of comparison I convert the raw split times into a ‘split timefigure’; which is a numerical assessment of the dog’s early pace. Let’s take as an example Black Bob, a fictional greyhound running in A3 grade at Sheffield. His split times for the last month have varied between his quickest, 4.42 seconds, and his slowest, 4.63 seconds. To make the mental calculation easy, I give 4.00 seconds the numerical value of 100; in other words, if a greyhound took only four seconds to run from the traps to the winning line first time round, that would be worth 100 points on my scale, one point being equal to one hundredth of a second. However, a quick look at the split times for greyhounds running at Sheffield shows that all split times are slower than that, between 4.30 and 4.80 seconds. So, to calculate a split time, I simply deduct from 100 the fractions of a second that the dog ran slower than 4 seconds. These are Black Bob’s split times and their numerical value:

4.63 secs: 100 - 63 = 37

4.42 secs: 100 – 42 = 58

4.55 secs: 100 – 55 = 45

4.52 secs: 100 – 52 = 48

I would then take Black Bob’s quickest split time and compare it with the quickest times of the other dogs in the race, and especially with the dogs drawn in the traps on either side of him, to decide whether or not he is likely to get a clear run to the first bend.

Using a greyhound’s split times is the most accurate method of assessing its early pace potential but, it has to be said, the most time consuming. The second method is simply to find, in the dog’s formlines, its position at each of the bends in its most recent races. This information can usually be found following the date of the race, the distance, its trap draw and its split time, as in this example:


25 Jly 480 2 4.42 1223 3rd 2

On 25th July Black Bob ran over 480 metres from Trap 2. He led at the first bend, and was in second place at the second and third bends. By the fourth bend he had dropped back to third, and was still in third place at the winning line, two lengths behind the winning dog. A greyhound whose formlines have plenty of 1’s and 2’s at the first and second bends can usually be relied upon to have good early pace. Being out in front or at least disputing the lead is the best place to be in order to avoid trouble.

The third, and perhaps the most obvious, method of assessing a dog’s early pace is to look at the comments made in the remarks section of the formlines, focusing on how the dog ran in the early stages of its previous races. Comments to note include QAw (Quick Away, but be wary, as not all fast trappers have early pace as well); EP (Early Pace); ALd (Always Led); SnLd (Soon Led); and Ld1 (Led at first bend).

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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