While in theory the sport seems simple – eight dogs chase a mechanical lure around a circle – finding a winner can be anything but.
There are numerous strategies to consider when you decide to place a bet on a greyhound race and, while lucky numbers, funny names and omen bets work occasionally, you are far more likely to to succeed when you take the time to study the form and make informed betting choices.
Box draw: The box from which a greyhound starts in a race will significantly impact its chances. Some greyhounds race better when they are closer to the rail, while others like room to move and are better suited out wide on the track. Greyhounds are also affected by the dogs drawn alongside them – for example if a railer is drawn on the outside of a wide runner it can lead to a disaster soon after box rise if they collide.
Early Speed: A greyhounds ability to ‘get out and go’ is another major factor in its chance of scoring. A dog that can jump swiftly and accelerate straight away it is less likely to find interference and more likely to get a clear, unimpeded run out in front.
Stamina: Early speed does not mean much if your chosen greyhound cannot run out the distance of the race they are in. If your dog is suspect at the trip you will be relying on interference behind it in order for it to be able to get a big enough mid-race break to hold on and, while this may work some of the time, it is not a good habit.
Running style: As mentioned above, some dogs like racing close to the rails, while others prefer room to move out wider on the track. A perfect dog will have the combination of both of these traits and will be able to go under and around dogs as required, but most will either be one or the other. It is a massive point to consider when having a bet – for example a railer drawn in box eight will need to begin exceptionally well in order to find the fence and have a winning chance.
Another trait to watch out for is whether your dog is a front runner or a back marker – some dogs need to be able to lead to win, whereas others will have no hesitation barging their way through the pack from behind. This is where your study of early speed and stamina will come in handy – if a dog has early pace and needs to lead to win its races but is drawn against a field with an abundance of speed, it is going to face an uphill battle to get everything its own way, particularly from a poor draw.
Track suitability: Pay close attention to how your selected dog has performed at the track in the past – not all tracks are the same and, as such, will not suit every dog. For example, a large greyhound (say 37kg) is likely to have more trouble navigating its way around a tight two turn track than a greyhound smaller in stature. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, so just check the form to ensure your greyhound is suited.
You will also be able to check your dogs best time over the track and trip and, while half a second may not seem like much, it equates to just over eight lengths in reality. Ensure your dogs personal times will place it as a genuine contender against the other runners in the event.