It’s 4-1 each of six from tonight onwards ... well, in theory anyway!

It’s 4-1 each of six from tonight onwards. Well, that’s the theory anyway. We’re into the new era at Shelbourne Park and while the concerns regarding the changes still exist, there seems to be a genuine hope in the greyhound community that this will have positive repercussions.

What has happened in the past few weeks, with appearance/pool-building money, is of no consequence from this juncture.

It’s now about the integrity of the racing, the quality of the cards and the ability to appeal to race-goers while also satisfying the demands of what can be broadcast into betting shops. It’s a juggling act so let’s hope all the balls can be kept in the air.

As well as punters hoping that it goes well, there are a number of boards at tracks around the country keeping their fingers and toes crossed that it will be successful in the hope that it might spread further afield.

Although I still have concerns about Shelbourne Park being the focal point from the outset, if I’m honest with myself, I know there was no other choice.

The betting shops want something in the region of 124% and, while there have been some concerns among the bookmakers involved, this is the track best positioned to provide overrounds at the desired level: it has the quality of greyhounds, it’s extremely competitive, and it can still attract crowds.

Take a look at the returns from almost any other track and, all other issues aside, you’ll soon see just how far away they are from reaching this sort of level and, consequently, being deemed suitable for wider broadcast.

It’s fair to say that bookmakers have suffered quite a bit in the past number of years, and they have been disappearing from horse racing and greyhound tracks with alarming regularity. But there’s something wrong if the racing provided and the prices offered cannot reach a reasonable balance for punters.

The bookmakers will say there aren’t enough punters out there anymore, which is an argument not without its merit. But I would consider myself a punter and yet it’s seldom I strike a bet of any consequence on course anymore for the simple reason that there’s very little value.

You can’t regularly bet against 200% and expect to win. Well, you can actually win, but your strike-rate must be unrealistically big or you must do intense and consistent study and be patient enough to wait for the moment when you spot a 6-4 shot that should be 4-6. It is really worth it?

And I certainly don’t subscribe to the argument only one or two dogs can win most races. Whatever their abilities in other departments, we have racing managers who are very good at putting together exceptionally tightly graded cards. And, like it or not, that’s how it should be.

In any case, if it was true that only two dogs could win a race, surely the other four would be huge prices. But that’s not the case. In my experience, most bookmakers will not chalk up a five unless there’s a four above or below the line.

Would you like bookmakers to bet to 200% in every race, with only two, maybe three, having any perceived chance, or would you prefer a 124% book and six dogs with a live chance?

I’ll take the latter every time. It might mean a lot more work to be a successful punter, but that’s the beauty of the challenge.

If you go into a betting shop not knowing in advance what you are going to back, then you shouldn’t go in at all. Without going into too much detail, the fact you have every opportunity to know the odds before you go in dictates that you should only be entering the shop (going online, etc) armed with the knowledge of where your (perceived) value lies.

In contrast, with advance odds unavailable, you should enter a greyhound track knowing the form inside out so that when the value appears, you can jump on it straight away. When the overround is 200%, that won’t happen very often.

As it stands, we have little capability of expanding beyond Shelbourne and I would hope that those other tracks with advance notions that they might ride the express (in the eventuality of it being destined for the Klondike) begin laying the groundwork now.

Moving away from the bookmakers for a moment, I would love to see a situation where a bet of a couple of hundred euro would have minimal effect on Tote pool prices. With a greater control of what is coming back into the industry, promotion of such is vital.

This week the IGB signed a three-year deal with Hattrick Sports Group whereby recordings of old greyhound videos will be used by the Dublin-based company for their operations in Spain, Montenegro, Croatia and Macedonia.

If you’ve ever been to a race night, you’ll have a great idea of how it work. At a race night, the organiser show old videos (usually American horse racing), give the horses random names and allow you to bet on them, in the assumption that it’s next to impossible to recognise the individual race.

Well, this is pretty much the same but on a grander scale. Hattrick has 2,500 terminals providing what it calls a “close-to-live experience using real high-quality video footage” and this is where the old greyhound videos come in.

Paradoxically, it’s essentially a form of virtual racing but with real pictures. Even though it makes no appeal to me, I can appreciate how a company which makes money out of betting on virtual racing could enhance the appeal of the product by using real pictures.

The financials of the deal were not revealed but, as far I can make out, it’s money for old rope. At very worst case, it’s a branding exercise as the logo will run with each video.

With the advent of the new protocols at Shelbourne and this selling off of these old videos, I did have a concern that perhaps we’d arrive at a situation where the videos would no longer be available on the IGB site. I have been assured that will not be the case.

Wear your green and white to Limerick Greyhound Stadium on Friday and Saturday night and you could win tickets to Sunday’s Munster Hurling final between Limerick and Cork. There are two pairs of tickets for the Mackey Stand to be given away and racing begins at 7.45pm both nights.

On the subject of Limerick, from this Saturday night there will be a change to the format of the Pick Six and also to the inter-track racing.

The Pick Six was shared evenly across the Shelbourne and Limerick meetings but will now be run with four races from Dublin and just two from Limerick — and, perhaps more significantly, those two races will now be the only two which are shown live on the inter-track.

I made my opinion known on the divided Pick Six and won’t labour it here, though this is a very small step in the right direction. A return to Dublin would be seem a formality and, in the event of the popularity of the racing taking off in the betting shops, wouldn’t it be great to be in a position to gain extra Tote pool sales through these avenues.


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