By Paul Dolan
I retired from calling greyhounds just over two years ago. September 2018 to be precise.
Quite often, someone will ask: Why did you give the job away? My answer is usually multiple reasons.
One reason, and I haven’t divulged this to many people, is that the increasing number of shortcourse races made, to me, the racecalling job less enjoyable or satisfying. It’s hard to deliver a quality call when there’s dogs getting knocked down left, right and centre from the ‘on the bend’ starts or at the first turn in the increasing number of shortcourse races.
I understand the need for 288 metres races at Ipswich and 331 metres races at Albion Park. Welfare wise, more greyhounds can race for longer. But, purely from a racecalling point of view, I think they are far less desirable than events over 520 metres or longer.
Anthony Collins is a fine young racecaller who covers the three codes of racing in south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales. He phoned me recently and said he was rostered to call an Ipswich Friday meeting, at which nine of the ten races were over 288 metres. The other race on the card was over 431 metres. He asked for some advice. I said – don’t blink or you will miss them.
Which brings me to this question. As a caller, I disliked the shortcourse races and I‘m sure I wasn’t Robinson Crusoe on that one. But – do punters dislike those races as well?
For that Ipswich meeting that Collins called, the lone 431 metres event was race seven. On Utab, there were five races over 288 metres which had a higher win pool than the 431 metres race. And there were four 288 metres races which had a higher First Four pool than the race over 431 metres.
On the New South Wales TAB it was a similar story. There were four races over 288 metres with a higher win pool than the 431 metres race. And three races with a higher First Four pool.
Back in the days of racing at one of my favourite tracks, Beenleigh, clubs received a percentage of off course TAB turnover. One day there were seven races at Beenleigh over 340 metres instead of the usual three or four. I said to the manager Glen Hartig that it would be a losing day for the club and he said no – punters don’t care what the distance of a race is, they bet anyway. He produced figures to prove his point.
So, I guess the conclusion is, then and now, race distance has little influence on betting turnover.
Look at Capalaba. One distance only, 366 metres, and very popular with punters.