In the latest part in his series on greyhound racing, George 'Barker' Bellfield hands out some useful tips on how to devise your own selection system for the dogs.

Anyone contemplating operating a system on greyhound racing needs to be prepared to study form very closely. There really isn't an ideal easy way to travel.

In P.P.M., I have attempted over the last few years to advise on how to compile your own ratings. These have been most effective, and many readers continue to use The Bellfield Ratings with great success.

What I am now going to outline is a direct, points-based selection plan that should enable you to trim down a field and isolate the main chances, and put the roughies to rest. I do stress that you'll need a formguide which gives pertinent details relating to a dog's -last runs. Without such a form guide, you'll be lost. So ensure that if you're in Victoria you get The Cold Guide, and in N.S.W. get the Greyhound Recorder. (I'm not sure about other States' greyhound publications, and I certainly haven't been impressed by anything that's available in Queensland.)

The factors I am going to take into consideration are (a) Box Draw (b) Times (c) Track and Distance Ability (d) likelihood of avoiding interference. These can be considered to be among the most important factors you need look at when assessing any greyhound race's competitors.

Box draw is important, but in this instance we will not have a simple points-for-box situation, as in Box 1 gets five points, etc. Mat you need to do is assess how each dog might go from the box it has drawn. If you think it's WELL DRAWN give it four or five points. If it is only FAIRLY drawn. give it two or three points, and if it is considered to be in a POOR box draw then allot nil or one point. Subjective judgement is needed here, but I feel this is better than allowing a mechanical approach to the box draw problem.

Times are most important (as I pointed out last month in P.P.M.). What you have to do is use the Best Time figure from a dog's last start to get an idea of its speed ability. Please refer to P.P.M. November for details on the Best Time markings in form guides.

If a dog has run a Best Time you give it 10 points. You then allot points downwards. If a dog has run within a length of a Best Time it gets nine points, if two lengths it gets eight points, if three lengths then it gets seven points. We go right down to one point, according to lengths off Best Time.

The table is as follows, with the Best Time on 10 and the others reflecting how far off the Best Time a dog ran:

BEST TIME:10 pts
ONE LENGTH (0.06)9 pts
TWO LENGTHS (0.12)8 pts
THREE LENGTHS (0.18)7 pts
FOUR LENGTHS (0.24)6 pts
FIVE LENGTHS (0.30)5 pts
SIX LENGTHS (0.36)4 pts
SEVEN LENGTHS (0.42)3 pts
EIGHT LENGTHS (0.48)2 pts
NINE LENGTHS (0.54)1 pt
TEN LENGTHS OR FURTHER (0.55+)        

Do this time-checking for each dog's last three starts. In this way you will get a sound idea of its speed ability, instead of simply relying on a last-start performance. Let's say that at a dog's last three starts it had run times of 30.75 (Best Time: 30.50), 30.42 (Best) and 30.55 (Best Time: 30.50). A length in greyhound racing is the equivalent of 0.06 of a second per length. Therefore with the first time mentioned above the dog has run, say, four lengths off the Best Time, and will get six points. In the next race, he has run the Best Time, so gets 10 points. In the third race, he is, say, a length off the Best Time and so gets nine points. For the three races, then, he has points of six, 10 and nine, a total of 25.

Ability to handle individual tracks, and certain distances, are another integral aspect of dog racing. If you satisfy yourself a dog is well-placed at the track and over the distance you can allot three points for each factor, a total of six. If you feel the dog doesn't handle the track well, you give just one or two points and if you believe the dog is suspect over the distance of the race you can allot nil, one or two points, depending on how severe you assess the disadvantage.

Some dogs handle big tracks best; others like tighter circuits. Their form lines will usually reveal which tracks suit them best. It's important you assess these two factors carefully.

Finally, you have to have a considered look at the race and decide how it might be run. Take careful note of the early speed dogs, and where they are boxed, and whether they will lead, and which dogs stand the best chance of settling in 2nd and 3rd spot, and which dogs are most likely to be back in the last three on settling down along the back.

You have to assess the likelihood of each dog. suffering interference, especially in the early stages. If you believe the possibility of a check is high then give the dog NIL points. If the risk is moderate, then give it two points and if you are satisfied there is minimal risk of interference you can allot three, four or five points, depending on your assessment.

Once you have taken into account all the factors I have mentioned, and handed out your points, you should have a very clear idea of the best and most suspect prospects in a race. You have taken into account the key points in dog formability to handle the box draw, speed, track and distance ability, and likelihood of interference. Each dog will have its points and the ones with the highest totals are the main chances.

NEXT MONTH: George 'Barker' Bellfield puts his greyhound selection method to the test at Wentworth Park in Sydney.

Click here to read Part 3.
Click here to read Part 1.

By George ‘Barker’ Bellfield