I must start this series of articles off by saying that greyhounds are not my specialist area, that is horse racing, but I know a few people who are specialists. Unfortunately I was unable to persuade them to write articles for us but they have provided me with a lot of information about greyhounds.
Since a number of you have asked if we can build a greyhound rating system I thought that the best way to proceed was to find out as much information as possible first and then structure a possible ratings method around this information.
Of course what this means is that I have embarked upon a series of articles that I hope will increase your knowledge of greyhound racing and allow us to develop a method of rating them at the end. Any comments, suggestions and thoughts are welcome.
The Different Grades of Racing
Like horse racing there are different levels of quality in greyhounds. In horse racing we call these official class levels, in greyhounds they are known as Grades and this is what we will focus our attention on this week.
As well as Graded Racing we get Open Racing (OR) and Hurdle events. Hurdle races will have a prefix to the race grading of H or CH which stands for Hurdle or Chase. In a Chase race two extra hurdles are added.
In these hurdle races an owner may choose to give their dog a ‘Hurdle Handslip’. When this is done the owner releases the dog by hand, usually along the straight part of the course, in order to give them more time to see the hurdles.
Important Note – If a dog raced in a hurdle race last time out and is coming back to race on the flat then this can be a good indication of a good performance. The hurdles require the dog to concentrate more and they usually keep this heightened level for the next race.
In the UK the majority of races are Graded and the grades go from A1 to A11. These are roughly broken up as follows:
A1-A3 – The top grade races have the best runners and the dogs will usually average 38-39mph.
A4-A6 – The middle grade level runners still race at some of the top grade tracks. These are still good racers and can often equal an A1 dog at a lower class track. The average speed is 37-38mph.
A7-A11 – The low grade races will usually contain the runners beginning or finishing their careers. Average speeds are 35-37mph.
It is not unusual for graded runners to race once, twice or even three times a week although a decline in performance indicates that the dog needs a rest. As with horse racing, knowing the grade (class) level of the race is very important in predicting the outcome and the same questions apply to greyhounds, such as ‘Do I back the runner moving up in class or dropping down in class?’ We can ask ourselves the same questions we ask in horse racing to help us find the winner.
Predicting the results of graded races is much harder than open races. These are similar to handicap horse races, except possibly better handicapped, where the dogs are graded exceptionally well by the graders with only the tiniest of differences between the runners. An open race is, as the name suggests, open.
This means that it may be easier to find a profit at the Open races although this will limit the amount of races available to us as the majority in the UK are Graded.
In the next article we shall take a look at greyhound tracks and the types of conditions that they can be in and whether this affects the results of a race.