Is it worth the time and trouble of studying greyhound racing form? Can the average punter simply follow tipsters or box numbers and make money? PPM's expert George 'Barker' Bellfield gives his view in this special article.

Friends of mine spend a lot of time poring over greyhound form. One chap studies each race in enormous detail, going back 10 or 12 runs if necessary, and comparing times from track to track. He has a fair amount of success, and yet I have another pal who virtually ignores form study and makes just as much money!

So what is the value of greyhound form? And can it be short-circuited? I believe there are positive points in favour of the form study approach, and the 'seat of the pants' intuitive approach. These days, I have eased up on serious form study because I believe my ratings and pricing approach (fully explained in the 1989 P.P.M. Annual) are giving me the best results I can ever hope to achieve.

But to anyone who doesn't mind putting in a few hours work in form study, I say: Go ahead and do it. In greyhound racing, as in horseracing, the study of all characteristics of a race WILL pay off. In the long run, the hard work will reward you, I'm sure.

So, how do you go about checking greyhound form? Firstly, you are going to need a reliable form guide. In Sydney, the Greyhound Recorder is essential. In Melbourne, you will need the Cold Guide (forget about the nonsense form emanating from the Victorian Greyhound Racing Control Board because it simply doesn't have enough detail to make it effective).

For the purposes of this article, I am going to concentrate on the Wentworth Park racing in Sydney. These meetings are fully covered by the Greyhound Recorder.

Let's assume we are going to put down on paper all the facets of form we need to study. I will break these into two parts today's race and past form.


  1. Is the dog drawn well? Does the box suit its racing characteristics (railer, wide runner, slow beginner etc.)?
  2. Is it likely the dog will escape interference in the early stages? To analyse this aspect, you will have to look at each dog's past racing bias and then make an assessment,
  3. Is the dog fancied by a majority of tipsters? Where is it in the pre-post betting market?


  1. Has the dog been racing well, or poorly? A check of its last few starts will tell you this.
  2. Has it been well-backed at recent starts? Has it been ignored in the betting at its recent starts? What is its price in today's race-has there been a significant price shortening or drifting?
  3. How does its box draw in the current race compare with its box draw at its last start? Is it a better or worse draw?
  4. Can the dog muster enough early pace to be among the first four dogs out of the first turn and into the back stretch? If not, can it keep in touch and then run on and win?
  5. Is the dog in one of the top kennels?
  6. What is its previous form on the track like? Can it handle the track?

With these aspects of form in mind, you 'attack' the race. Start with the pre-post favourite. Then work through the field. One simple method is to adopt a 'points' allocation as you go along.

Just allot one point to each dog for each question that has to be answered. By the time you have completed the entire field, you add up the points for each dog and these should tell you which roughies you can immediately eliminate from contention.

I usually find that at least three dogs can be scrubbed at this stage of proceedings. They are the dogs that could only spring a surprise if afforded a great deal of luck in the running. Most times they will run as expected, occasionally one might bob up as a winner or placegetter, but not too often.

The Greyhound Recorder is helpful in that it has a section in which a dog's full form is summarised, as well as its form at Wentworth Park. There also is a description of its beginning ability (good, fair, moderate, slow) and its racing bias (wide runner or railer).

Here's an example:

Sir Magic (Box 6). Best WP win 30.42 (7) fair, wide. Starts 15, wins 8, 2nds 2, 3rds 2. WP form: 4-2-1-1.

This is an extremely helpful service. It tells you at a glance if a dog is a strong Wentworth Park performer. In Sir Magic's case, we would say 'yes', he is extra good at WP, with two wins and two placings from four starts there.

In the form itself, you can quickly ascertain certain aspects of any dog's racing bias. My view is that if a dog is usually 4th or worse away, you can mark it down as a slow beginner, and according to my reckoning a slow beginner is equal to a debit of two lengths wtien you are assessing outcomes.

With dogs that have recent performances on some country tracks, there will be no guide as to beginning ability, so you'll have to give these greyhounds the benefit of the doubt. A typical Greyhound Recorder form line goes like this:

Third (6) 4-1, 4/5th Grade, 486 Gosford, 17/1/89, to Alert Goddess, Bibo 2, V4-length, nose 29.43 (best 28.60) 4th early, 5th back, 2nd for home (6 strts). 28.4 kgs.

Now this is a most succinct and helpful 'nutshell' profile of a dog's last run. We can see he ran 3rd from Box 6 at 4-1 in a 4th and 5th Grade race over 486m at Gosford on January 17. The winner was Alert Goddess and Bibo was 2nd. The dog was beaten V4-length and a nose in 29.43s, which was .83s outside the best time for the distance that meeting. The dog was 4th away, held 5th spot along the back and had improved to be 2nd turning for home. His weight was 28.4 kgs and there were six starters in the race.

This particular greyhound's previous form showed that it had led all the way in a couple of races, and in another two had been l st or 2nd away from the boxes. On one occasion it was 6th early in a race at Newcastle and then was checked and fell. For the purposes of assessing its beginning ability, I would definitely place it in the 'OK' category.

If, after looking at all the aspects of each dog's form, you are left with three or four chances, it could well be a race you should leave alone except if you are betting to 'true value' chances and have worked out an acceptable price for each greyhound. With this approach, you are betting only on the runners at value odds.

There are several important factors I feel you should treat most seriously. They are as follows:

  1. Change in price from, last start. This is vitally important, as followers of my P.P.M. 1989 Annual ratings approach will know. If a dog was, say, 15~1 last start and today is 2~1, then you are immediately alerted to the fact that it looks like being ideally suited in this race. This is even more defined if the dog lost at 15-1 last start and is now 2-1! The price change could mean 2 significant drop in class. I would urge you to place the closest attention on this factor. You are able to do it right down to the last minute of betting if you attend the track. Subscribers to the Viatel service via computers can also have access to last-minute tote prices.
  2. Good form at last four starts. I have found that dogs which have won two or more of their last four starts usually go on and run bold races. This is especially so if they have, say, two wins and two placings from the last four outings. This form indicates fitness and sharp placement on the part of the dog's connections.
  3. Dogs unplaced at recent runs but beaten less than three lengths. Greyhounds in this category should be closely watched for surprise wins. A recent example was Heather Park at Wentworth Park. This bitch had run 2nd, 4th, 4th at her last three starts. When 2nd, she was beaten ONE length, when 4th on the first occasion she was beaten 2.75 lengths, and when 4th at her last start she was only two lengths from the winner. Heather Park won at 12-1 and around 20-1 on the TAB. (She also was a value winner for my ratings/pricing method).

A further point to remember, if you want to take form study to the final limit, is a dog's weight. Most punters can't be bothered checking weight changes, but serious professionals do. If s an idea to check on a dog's weight when it won or finished close-up in the placings. Generally, you will find that dog's ideal weight range. When you see it racing outside that weight range, it could be time to be very careful.

Example: Rikasso Girl: She won on September 14 last year weighing 27.6 kgs, she won at that weight on December 5, and won at that weight again on December 24. In between those December wins she ran. 4th weighing 28.0 kgs, and 2nd weighing 27.8 kgs.

It looks as if she was just a shade overweight in those two runs. You'll find a similar pattern with many other greyhounds. To do this, of course, you'll need to listen closely to the radio calls of the final weights. Miss them-and you've blown it!

In regard to boxes at particular tracks, I suggest you obtain a record of performances in the last 12 to 18 months, to work out the percentages of winners from each box over the various distances.

For example, at Wentworth Park the following win percentages apply for each box:

520m: Box 120.5%, Box 2 12.46%, Box 3 10.56%, Box 4 12.64%, Box 5 10.73%, Box 6 11.16%, Box 7 8.91 %, Box 8 12.38%.

72Om: Box 116.37%, Box 2 12.06%, Box 3 12.50%, Box 4 10.77%, Box 5 9.48%, Box 6 9.05%, Box 7 21.12%, Box 8 11.63%.

As you can see, Box 1 in sprints has a definite edge, and Box 7 in the longer races has an excellent winning record.

It would pay to keep these statistics in mind if you are caught between deciding if one dog should be chosen over another. You might have two dogs in a distance race and one is in Box 6 and the other Box 7. You would have the percentages on your side by deciding to back the Box 7 dog.

By George ‘Barker’ Bellfield