NZ Futurity Final (Group 1), 520m Hatrick Raceway, Friday 11 May 2018
We’re back again at Hatrick for the running of the Group One Futurity over the classic greyhound middle distance of 520m.
After the Derby and Oaks which earlier in the season found the best young male and female dog respectively, the Futurity brings together the boys and girls to do battle.
Our stats show a distinct bias towards box 1 – 20% of winners over 520m have come from box 1 at Hatrick. There’s no particular bias elsewhere although boxes 2-4 have a slightly higher strike rate than the four outside boxes.
For 520m races at Hatrick, 40% of winners lead at the post the first time around with 62% of winners being in the first two.
At the other end of the spectrum, missing the jump can be lethal with just 15% of winners coming from 5th or worse with a round to go.
In many ways, this is a fascinating speed map.
First, not unexpected given the race features the cream of the younger dogs, most of the runners have great box speed so it will be a case of who picks the jump on the night. Favourite Bigtime Paddy comes out of one of the squeeze boxes – box 5 – while second favoutie Dirk Bale is out in box 8. Dirk Bale has a pretty good record from box 8 and if there is a mad scramble at the start, box 8 could prove to be an advantage.
At the other end of the spectrum, the dog in the prized box 1 is a notoriously slow beginner. Idol Tom will definitely get back at the start but he has a strong finish and a pretty good record from the inside boxes.
Our sectionals (time splits) tell the story last week – Bigtime Paddy didn’t have the fastest opening sectional but he was almost four lengths faster than any of the other dogs in the crucial middle section.
With a similar start, he is clearly the dog to beat but there has to be questions about his ability to get away quickly and cleanly, especially with Bigtime Wendle on his outside and and another of the favourites Avenger Bale on his inner.
The big question for me is the start. If Paddy runs into trouble at the start, then he will need the burn in the middle to simply make up ground and that in itself is problematic as he will need to evade other runners trying to do the same.
Depending on the start, there’s a number of possible scenarios that Paddy has to overcome. If Dirk Bale can make a similar start from a similar box as last week, he is right in this. From the outside draw, he’s a chance to lead and would be difficult to peg back.
At the end of the race, three dogs stood out with their closing sectionals – Idol Tom, Avenger Bale, and Cawbourne Krusty. Of the three, Avenger Bale is the one most likely to get a decent start and put himself into the race. These five dogs should have things covered.
In terms of selections, definitely Bigtime Paddy for class but he looks like he will need some luck. Both the Bale dogs have genuine chances but different in different likely scenarios. If there’s trouble at the start, Dirk Bale has the box speed and draw to get a break and hold on. On the other hand, with a clear passage through the middle sections, Avenger Bale looks the most likely of the swoopers.