The second of the two group one races at Manukau on Sunday is the time-honoured Auckland Cup.

The nature of the group one races is that it attracts runners from around the country which adds to the challenge of finding a winner – just ONE runner has had more than 4 attempts over the course and distance.

The Auckland Cup is race 9 on the card at Manukau and starts at 3.41.

Box statistics

There is a clear advantage for the inside box, as there is across most courses and distances. Around 17% of winners wear the red rug.

After that, it’s pretty even although box 2 and 3 have a slight edge on the others, confirming the inside bias.

However, as the saying goes, box speed is gold so we need to try and find the runner with the best early speed.

In run position

“In run position” is just a fancy way of saying where each runner ends up at the first bend.

We make this point in the preview of 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 41% of middle distance races at Manukau. Around 84% of winners will be in the first 4 with a lap to go. Or to put it another way – just 16% of middle distance races are won by the dogs that are 5th or worse at the post 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.

Speed map

There’s a lot of early speed in this race which is to be expected. As we’ve noted, early speed is a strong predictor of success and these are the top middle distance dogs in the country. To be successfully – consistently – generally requires early speed.

Of the dogs that have made the final, Blazin’ Carter had the best opening sectional in the heats, running a scorching 4.59. That’s less than half a length slower than the best in the last couple of years (Bigtime Paddy rang 4.57 in 2017). Blazin’ Carter also has the benefit of drawing box 2 (box 3 in the heats).

All About Space ran a competitive 4.64 in the heats and has the advantage of box 1.

Out wider, Pinny Mack has been struggling a little from wider box draws so the speed map be a little optimistic.

At the other end. Avenger Bale is likely to be one of the slowest out but on his day, he can jump well.


As we’ve said time and again, the jump will be all important. Based on recent racing, that makes things a little tougher for the bookies favourite, Pinny Mack. He’s likely to find a few quicker off the boxes and that will make things tougher for him.

Based on box speed and the sectionals from the heats, Blazin’ Carter is drawn to feature for a long way and is the likely early leader.

If we’re looking at the dog with the strongest closing sectional, then Ringside is the standout. He came home in 14.72, almost 2 lengths faster than the second best and five lengths off Blazin’ Carter’s time. The question is whether Ringside can get away quick enough to put himself in the race – the sectionals say he can be in the leading bunch and he has Avenger Bale on his outside which is a help. His winning time of 30.14 was outstanding and he also has a great record from box 5.

For longer odds, ideally we want to find a dog that is consistently quick off the boxes – or at least has the potential – and likewise has a good closing sectional. Diddilee fits that criteria – he was a little slow in the heats but had the second best closing sectional. In the St Leger, he jumped handy and had the ability to close for the win – a repeat would put him in the mix.

Best opening speed – Blazin’ Carter (2) – fourth 
Best closer – Ringside (5) – second and a tab unlucky too
Big value runner – Diddilee (4) – currently $12FF – first $11.90


David Archibald
Formpro Ratings

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