The second of the two group one races at Manukau today is the Auckland Cup. Run over 527 metres, in greyhound terms it’s a middle distance classic.
The heats have seen some outstanding chasers make the final – as an example of the depth, the NZ Cup winner Nature’s Gent could only make the emergencies.
One stand out statistic is that most of the field have little experience around Manukau. Bigtime Paddy is the least likely to need the GPS but, in relative terms, he’s not a frequent visitor to Auckland with just 6 starts. The rest have had just one or two starts at Manukau.
The box starts show a bias towards the inside three boxes and particularly box 1. Box 1 is the “winningest” box with over 17% of winners over the 527 metres at Auckland wearing the red rug. The next two most successful boxes are boxes 2 and 3 – in total, 45% of winners will draw boxes 1-3.
The remaining boxes are reasonably equal chance although the worst box again at Manuakau is box 6 with just 9.6% of winners wearing the green rug.
In run position
“In run position” is just a fancy way of saying where each runner ends up at the first bend.
And here we go yet again. We make this point any race – in run position is a significant predictor of likely success in greyhound racing, regardless of the distance.
The winner will lead at the winning post the first time around in 42% of middle distance races at Manukau. 83% of winners will be in the first 4 with a lap to go.
Again, it simply highlights how important it is for dogs to have box speed to put themselves into a winning position.
All that we can be certain off, is that something has to give at the start.
So it’s most likely easiest to see who is NOT likely to get on the pace.
Almost unbelievably, only two runners (Quistis Bale and Bigtime Paddy) have landed in 7th or 8th position in their last 6 starts and that covers a total of just 3 races. It simply underlines what a competitive race this is and in particular how competitive the start will be.
The one runner likely to get back is Opawa Timo in box 7. Quistis Bale also looks to lack the outright speed of some of the others. However this is just his fifth start from either box 1 or 2 in a career so far of 38 races. And while Bigtime Paddy has had one blot at the starts, in general he is a reliable starter.
The likely pace setters are Shally Pallay, Allen Abblett and possibly Bigtime Paddy who as we noted above also has the most experience around the track.
If there is trouble at the start, one who could benefit is Tom Tee in the pink (box 8). He also has plenty of box speed and will likely have an edge of Opawa Timo on his inside. He’s not a hard and fast railer and has a reasonable record from the outside boxes.
We’re used to greyhound races where the favourite is paying around $2.50 and often shorter than that. However, in this year’s Auckland Cup, the bookies have priced 4 dogs – half the field – between $3.80 and $5.00.
Allen Abblett is a deserved favourite based on his past record but box 5 still presents challenges with a fair bit of speed on his inside.
One of those is Shallay Pallay, the second favourite, who could easily get the first use of the rail.
At his best, Bigtime Paddy, is a clear chance although he’s been run down a couple of times recently. However, that didn’t happen in the heat and the rating shows he’s getting back to his best.
The fourth of the favourites is Avenger Bale who, based on his ratings over the last month, is arguably the form runner. The downside is that he maps to be slow away and with the class of dog ahead of him will need to be either exceptional or exceptional lucky to win from there.
For value, I would include in my quaddie Tom Tee. He’s another who’s been running consistent, top times over the last month or so and box 8 could well be an advantage if there’s jostling at the start.
A great field has been assembled for the 2018 running of the Auckland Cup and a great race beckons.