This week’s big race comes from Hatrick raceway. After an outstanding round of heats last Friday, we have a classy set of dogs chasing group one glory in Friday night’s big race.
The race is over 520m and the lids are up just before 9pm.
Over the 520, our stats show there is a definite bias in favour of box 1 – around 20% of winners wear the red rug. The outside for boxes fare poorly – 40% of runners of 520 metres will come out of boxes 4-8 while 60% will be drawn 1-4.
This is the point in the article where we make the same point we make every review – being in the right position is critical to greyhound racing.
Over the 520m at Hatrick nearly 40% of winners have led at the first bend, while the winner has been either first or second in more 60% of races. At the other end of the spectrum, since 2011, just 15% of races have been won by dogs who were 5th or worse at the first bend.
The speed map shows Me Jane with more speed than Tarzan. She has been prominent in her recent racing although general from more favourable draws. The box 8 may negate some of her box speed.
Conversely American Warrior (7) loves the wider draws and has a strong finish.
Both Allen Ablett and Dirk Bale will appreciate drawing in a little closer to the rails and have the box speed to get on the lure.
As we noted above box 1 can be a real assist by Letron James has yet to win in the red although interestingly he has won 5 from 8 in box two. And it’s easily overlooked given the great times last week by Letron James opened with 5.04 in the heat from box 1 and was less than a length behind Nature’s Gent at the first bend.
Runner by Runner
#1 Letron James – The lack of success from box one worries and in this field it looks like there will be a ton of pace on his outside. If he gets crossed, which seems likely, then the box 1 draw could be a trap instead. The bookies don’t rate his chances but he did run a pretty decent opening sectional last week and his middle sectional wasn’t the worst either.
#2 Thrilling Raider – has drawn well but in this red hot field, there’s a real risk he will end up playing catch up. Hasn’t been running the recent times that the others has but put in a slashing effort to record the second best closing sectional last week. If he can get a clean start and a clear passage, he could make things interesting.
#3 Allen Ablett – it’s remarkable that AB and his brother Dirk in box have both had just the 15 starts each. In the heats, AB started with a 5.06 opening split, in the top 10 for the evening. His middle sectional was the third best of the evening. With a repeat he is definitely going to be in the mix.
#4 Dirk Bale – almost broke 5 seconds for the opening splits and ran a scorching middle sectional only bettered by favourite Nature’s Gent. The worry was the closing sectional where he seemed to drop away. While that is a concern, with his box speed he is likely to be in the race a long way.
#5 Nature’s Gent – The NZ Cup winner really stamped his authority in the heats. He ran a 5 seconds opening split to set up his win and absolutely dominated the middle sectionals with a stunning 13.21. Only two dogs managed anything like that …and they are both drawn inside the Gent. The big question is whether he can run those types of times from a squeeze box.
#6 Bigtime Paddy – back from a competitive outing in the heats of the canine Melbourne Cup, he is yet another quality contender. He may not appreciate the green rug and as we’ve noted there is a ton of pace in this field. He ran a pretty decent opening split from the same box in the heats but this is much tougher.
#7 American Warrior – is the only runner who has made it back from last year’s final. Yet another top class chaser who in this case has been drawn to suit his racing style. Has one of the best closing sprints and if any of the runners is going to swoop, it could well be the Warrior. Just has to watch out for Jane on his outside.
#8 Me Jane – has been showing plenty at the start of races but this is a lot wider than she has been and a lot tougher. That said, she has enough to put herself in the race and from box 8 with box speed could potentially avoid any trouble at the start. She ran a similar opening split to Nature’s Gent but that was from box 3. To be fair, doesn’t mind the outside boxes. The place money could be quite tempting.
Based on what we have seen, Nature’s Gent is a deserved favourite. He won the NZ Cup from box 4 although the flag with that was he got back to 5th in running before storming home. He ran the standout times in the heats was outstanding in the opening stages but particularly the middle part of the race. A reasonable touch of luck in running and he is right in this but he still may need a little luck in running.
If the favourite is beaten, there’s a couple of different scenarios to consider.
First, if there is trouble at the start, then the on-pace runners will be advantaged which strengthens the case of Dirk Bale and Allen Ablett especially given his effort last week.
On the other hand, with so much early pace, it could set up the race for a swooper like American Warrior or Thrilling Raider.
If you love the roughies, there’s a lot of reasons to say why Letron James can’t and won’t win and he is the outsider in the field. However he showed enough in the heats to suggest it’s not impossible that he could hold the rail just inside the leaders especially with the dog in 2 likely to be slow away. And if there’s problems at the start he could be a very grateful recipient of any luck. Currently $4.30FF.