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How Far How Fast by Garry Robinson

Sky Channel watchers and radio listeners and mug punters in general, are often taken in by what seems to them to be superior performances. Many years ago when I attended my first greyhound meeting as a late teen, I noticed the dog in box four virtually climb over the backs of the opposition before scoring a runaway win at Beaumont Park. I was impressed, and said as much to a fellow nearby.

"Don't get carried away" he said " have a look at the time." As it turned out, the race was run in a couple of seconds more then the usual time for the class. The dog had simply found himself up against a far inferior opposition. It was about this time that I started to develop my time rating method for the horses. It was something that nobody else was doing at the time and even few are today. It is easy to understand why.

November 29th and we are at Murwullimbah. Winform's top rated horse Maizelle, is there because of a tenth of fourteen performance, beaten ten lengths in 1.10.5 over 1200 metres. Her time to run today is therefore about 1.12.5 without taking into account any weight adjustment or barriers or improvement. She has had just three starts and today is second up after being beaten at Doomben first up on a heavy track by 9 lengths.

Maizelle jumped well and led by a length or less to the 600. At this stage, she gained a break of two lengths by the turn and eventually won by seven, yes that's right, seven lengths. A most impressive performance, or was it? The overall race time was 1.11.96 and she came home the last 600 in 35.49 so her first 600 was 36.2. Her pace, apart from a brief spurt at about the 600, was fairly even. The facts here are simple. Maizelle had improved about three lengths on her past performance which is about normal for a three year old. The opposition fought out the placings as if she wasn't in the race as none of them were in the same "class" and for "class" read "ability to run this very ordinary time.

For a comparison, let's have a look at Atom in race one. Atom was having her very first run. Understandably, she missed the start before recovering to settle fourth about three lengths behind the leader which we reckoned could run about 1.11.6. in the straight, Zac Purton angled for a run and it the lead 200 out before winning by three lengths. The race time was 1.11.8 and the last 600 35.7 but the difference is that Atom was three lengths back at the 600 so her actual last 600 was run in 35.1. Both winners were impressive but a seven length win will be remembered more than the three length one yet Atom's run was far better and of the two fillies met, you would expect Atom to win easily, probably by about two lengths or more.

On the same day at Narromine, Box Head Prince led all the way in an Open Sprint over 1100 metres in 1.4.1 or only .3 slower than the course record. Earlier in the day, Lofty's View came from near last at the turn to Dead heat over 1200 metres in 1.12.94, nearly fifteen lengths slower then the record yet few will forget the run and few will bother to notice the slow time which enabled the run to look so good.

A better run on the day was Velsontas in the Open Handicap over 1600 metres. In this race there was a tearaway leader which ensured a solid pace. Velsontas also came from near last to win going away in course record time. This run was both memorable and genuine.

If you can learn to tell the difference between what looks good visually and audibly, from the actual times and circumstances of the race, you go a long way towards becoming a real rather then a "mug" punter.

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