NEW ZEALAND DERBY (GROUP 1) FINAL - R/AF - 457M $40,000
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The long Easter Weekend kicks off with Group 1 greyhound racing at Cambridge.
The “Horseshoe” Effect
For those readers who have a passing knowledge of dog racing at best, Cambridge presents a different challenge than middle distance races at Auckland, Whanganui or Christchurch.
Cambridge has a much wider circumference (remember your third form maths?) which means the middle distances races have just two turns compared to the smaller tracks where the dogs complete over a lap of the course. As a result, you may hear the commentators refer to the track being “horseshoe” shaped.
What can be challenging is trying to compare performances across different types of tracks especially when many of the field have only had one or two runs at Cambridge. Only one dog – Thrilling Surge – has had more than 10 starts over the track and distance. Three are having just their second career start at Cambridge over the middle distance.
Another challenging aspect of the race is that like the equine equivalent, the Derby is a restricted age event with dogs coming from both different racing circuits and different classes. The final field ranges from C2 dogs through to open class C5 chasers.
Box and Running Style Stats
It’s pretty standard for the inside boxes to have an advantage and that is the case at Cambridge with the most wins coming from the inside two boxes – box 1 at 17% and box 2 over 15%.
Interestingly, the outside two boxes have the next best record – over the 457m, 33% of winners come from the inside two boxes with 27% of winners from boxes 7 and 8. The worst performed box is 6 with less than 9% of winners in the green.
It’s not unreasonable to think that the longer straights might be an aid to dogs who miss the jump but the converse appears to be the case. A whopping 47% of winners at Cambridge over 457m are the first dog at the end of the back straight while almost 70% of winners will be first or second when the dust settles. At the other end, just 2% of dogs have managed to win when 7th or 8th away.
So box speed looks to be a real asset and could well dictate the outcome.
What stands outs from our stats is that pretty much every dog has shown box speed in their previous races. In other words, it’s highly possible that some dogs will experience pressure they haven’t come across previously which isn’t surprising given the importance of the race.
Also, keep in mind our stats are based on the position at the end of the first straight. A dog like Vikings has sometimes taken a stride or two to get into his work.
If Vikings is slow away, the speed could well come from the outside boxes. As the runner analysis below shows, there is a real chance that the inside runners could be heading a little out, putting the squeeze on dogs in the middle boxes.
#1 Bigtime Dazzler – The positive of the prized red rug is likely to be negated by his tendency to head a little right at the jump. He’s not a railer either so will likely look for space in the off the rail which could spell big trouble.
#2 Spare Some Time – Another dog who would seem to be poorly boxed. Is likely to head right from the jump and look for the middle of the track. Has just one win in ten starts from the inside two boxes.
#3 Vikings – A short priced favourite but as noted above, will need to jump and find the lead. Warning lights are flashing about the dogs inside which will almost certain head right and the dog in box 4 likely to head a little left. In the heats took a few strides to get going and was helped by very slow starters inside. With an uninterrupted run has to be in the mix but worth noting he has not rated over 50 when not getting to the lead at the first bend. Is C3 rated but did win the Futurity at Addington leading all the way.
#4 Min Ho – Stormed home for second in the heats but the speed map suggests he is likely to be one of the slowest out of the boxes and that could be fatal unless he gets lucky. Best times have come when he has got an uncontested lead and that is unlikely here.
#5 Thrilling Surge – One of the better-performed dogs in the race (C4) but doesn’t have the greatest box speed. That said, is up against many dogs who have been racing in lower classes. Ran the fastest heat time which is also the best track and distance time of all runners. Proven record at Cambridge with 5 wins from 11 starts. Needs luck from the start.
#6 Bombs Falling – Got the most of box 1 in the heats and made ground for second in the heats. At the same time, was a little slow away. Coupled with the wider draw, will need to make his own luck.
#7 Allegro Gun – Top sprinter who has run a blistering 17.17 at Hatrick. However, the middle distance is likely to challenge him over the final 70 metres – has yet to win over middle distance. The main upsides are that he has proven box speed against top sprinters and has a good record from the box draw. If there was trouble at the start – and the speed map suggests this is entirely possible – he could end up with a cheap lead and the question would be whether he could hold on. Could easily spice up exotics.
#8 Storm Warning – Just 2 starts in NZ for 1 win and a total of just 5 starts for 4 wins. Hasn’t shown blistering box speed but box 8 could well suit his style as he doesn’t appear to be a railer. Could possibly get a drag into the race if Allegro Gun gets off to a flyer. Has been well backed and appeals as a genuine chance and the outside box could well be a bonus.
A race where much will depend on the start.
Vikings and Storm Warning appeal on class although Vikings, in particular, has to negotiate the start. With a clear passage, they should fight out the finish.
For value, Thrilling Surge appeals – a C4 runner with a great track record but he will likely get back and could be running on. At the other end, Allegro Gun may not see out the distance but he could easily find the lead which is always an advantage.
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