On Tuesday night Curraheen Park hosted the first of its meetings being beamed live into the betting shops, and from the outside looking in it must be said it went well.
The production from TurfTV looked very good, showed the track in a positive light, and there was a good mix of results, to please punters and bookmaking firms alike. The commentaries of Tim Kelleher, who has a voice which lends itself so naturally to the job, also added to the experience.
Of course there were teething problems, not least one race not being shown live, due to a clash with a race from an American horse racing track.
Those who wished to find issue believe they had cause in the first race, when a greyhound, whose name is inconsequential to the incident, found some time on the clock and won by a wide margin.
Such things have to be looked into, as much to say they’ve been looked into as to find fault. I’ve been going racing at Curraheen long enough to know that the track is in top condition right now, and fast times are being posted.
Seemingly exposed greyhounds have been posting career-best efforts in recent weeks, while two that spring to mind immediately broke their respective duck with times of 28.21 and 28.33, having had plenty of opportunities.
Curraheen is a fast track, suited to front runners, and when a fast one gets loose early, it can post a flying time. That’s essentially what happened in Tuesday’s opener.
Leaving that one aside, there were good finishes to a number of the races, and four winning favourites from 10 races is only just above the average expected. In amongst those were two 5-1 winners and a 13-2 winner. Over-rounds were at a level which should provide value for punters, opening at around the 40% mark and closing a few percentage points lower.
While it’s far too soon to run away with ourselves, there were grounds for optimism in relation to what could be achieved.
On the flip side, the racing starts an hour earlier than usual and when most of the runners are supplied by people who are gainfully employed elsewhere that creates its own problems. Having a complete card, with no non-runners, is the aim, but that’s much easier when there are contract trainers.
That’s not an avenue that would be desirable here, but many owners and trainers are not happy with the current situation.
It is something which will have to be addressed in the long-term, for now, though, the most important thing is to ensure this is a product the betting shops want in to the future. If that’s the case, then there may be some cards with which to play.
Mullingar gets its first run out in the betting shops on Sunday, while Youghal gets going on Monday night, with a 10-race programme which gets underway at 7.03pm and wraps up after the 9.19pm race. Weigh-in is from 5:50pm to 6:20pm.
At Curraheen, the €10,000 Open Bitch Stake gets underway on Friday fortnight, September 18, and final entries will be taken on Monday week, September 14.
The quarter-finals of the Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby take centre stage on Saturday night at Shelbourne, and Ballymac Matt remains a hot favourite (as short as 2-1, no bigger than 3-1) for outright honours.
Drawn to wear the red jacket once more, the sponsors put him in at 4-9 to win the second quarter-final, but have already cut him to 2-5. Red-jacketed runners could run riot in this round as they are favourite or joint favourite in the early market for every heat.
An accumulator on the four - Farloe Blitz (11-10), Ballymac Matt (2-5), Tyrur Tommy (2-1) and Cable Bay (3-1) – were it to oblige, would pay almost 35-1.
On Saturday night Tralee hosts a benefit night for John Mitchells GAA Club, while on Derby final night (better known in those parts as ‘eve of the All-Ireland Football final’), September 19, there will be no racing, but the track will be open to show all the action from the Derby card at Shelbourne.
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