Analysis, patience, insight . . . I think these three qualities sum up the successful punter who bets on greyhounds. You need all three if you are to assure yourself of success over, say, a 12-month period. It can't be a hit or miss approach, because the prices on offer at the dogs are not juicy enough to permit too much error.

But we do have to look for value. Always. Just as with racehorses and pacers, the punter has to seek the winners everyone else misses-those winners which arrive at good prices which are higher than their true chance in the race.

The factors I am going to use in the following 'test run' of a couple of races at Wentworth Park take in those I outlined in the first article (JUNE P.P.M.) and expounded upon last month (July P.P.M.). That is, Box Draw Value, Early Speed, Mid-Race Speed, Late Speed, Win and Place Strikes, Likelihood of Interference, Ability At The Track and Recent Times.

First race under the microscope is the NCA Stake (520m, Race 1) at Wentworth Park on June 22. In this race, we had a moderate field of 5th Grade sprinters with very little experience on the Wenty circuit. This made analysis just that little more difficult.

The pre-race favourite was Fox Supreme, drawn awkwardly in Box 6. I allotted only three points (moderate) for this draw. On the three aspects of 'race speed' this dog's past form was all at the minor Dubbo N.S.W. track over 445 and 516 and we had no clues to its ability apart from the fact it had won its last three starts, and had finished 2nd in a two-dog trial at Wentworth Park on June 15. I played cautiously and allotted six points for each factor (18 in all). On the win and place strike rate, Fox Express came in well with four wins from five starts so got the maximum 10 points. No history of interference vulnerability was available, but from Box 6 I anticipated some problems for a dog new to the track, so Fox Supreme got no points in that area. On Recent Times, I gave him six because of his smart times at Dubbo. I refrained from giving the maximum 10 points because of a doubt about the switch to Wenty. In all, then, he got 37 points.

In Box 1, Emmasue had to be considered well drawn (10 points) and her recent form at Richmond and Bulli indicated she had early and mid-race speed to burn, with a lesser emphasis on final stretch capability. I gave her 10-10-6 on the three race speed factors (26 in all). With five wins and 6 placings from 16 starts I gave her the highest mark of 10 points for the Win and Strike factor. Because of her early speed ability I reasoned that she could avoid trouble from the rails, and gave her six points for that. I was wary of her Track Ability, despite the fact she'd run 2nd in a 4-dog trial there and gave no points, but for her good recent times at Bulli and Richmond I awarded six points. She came in with 58 points, well clear of the favourite Fox Express.

Here was another entry who looked to have good claims. I gave him 10 points for Box 2. His form indicated he lacked early speed (six points but showed that he was finishing off his races okay (10 points each for Mid Race and Late Speed). With five wins and seven placings from 15 starts I gave him the top mark 10 points. There were no reports of interference at his recent races and I thought this was significant, so another 10 points went his way. I gave him nothing for Ability at the Track but awarded six points for his recent good form (I was tempted to award 10 but refrained because of the track doubt at Wenty). In all, then, a total of 62 points, putting him ahead of Emmasue.

From Box 3, this dog was the only other runner who could come into serious contention. He got six points for the Box Draw Value, 10 points each for Early and Mid-race Speed, six points for Late Speed, three points for his Win-Place rate (seven wins from 29 starts), 10 points for probably being able to avoid interference, no points for Track Ability, and three points for Recent Times. In all, a total of points.

The other four contenders couldn't match up to these top-rated dogs. Ayrmale Den got 34, Maica Gold 27, Red Joker 30 and Calm Top 33.

The three contenders to look at, then, are Amigo's Farewell, Emmasue and Outback. With only 37 points, Fox Express has to be regarded as being in the 'big risk' category. I naturally leaned towards the two top points-scorers as the main prospects, though I anticipated that Outback's early speed would give it a good early spot.

As I envisaged it, Emmasue could lead with Outback, and there seemed no reason why Amigo's Farewell, from such a good draw, could not be right up there along the back stretch. At his last start, at Cessnock, he had led from the first turn from the same box draw.

The major point that worried me about Amigo's Farewell was that his previous good form had been displayed over shorter distances-A00m at Maitland and 457m at Cessnock. Could he adequately get the 520m journey? In contrast, Emmasue had won over 537m at Richmond and 689 at Gosford, so there were no worries about her ability to get the trip. Outback had won three in a row at Moss Vale over 503m, so he should get the trip, even if the Wenty 520m was probably a lot tougher.

In the end I swayed towards Emmasue as the top selection, with Amigo's Farewell the second pick and Outback the third pick. Well, I was wrong in that I should not have gone off the top points scorer, because Amigo's Farewell won, paying $12.55 (Qld TAB) and very well, too, on other totes. Emmasue ran 2nd, and the unfancied Calm Top was 3rd. The quinella paid $15 plus.

This race, then, was an example of how careful application of all the form factors can lead you to the main prospects. In the second race of that Wentworth Park meeting, the points tally pointed to a closely graded event, with only eight points between seven of the runners. This is the sort of race I tend to bypass.

As it was, I narrowed it down to just Melanie (48), Playing 11(,okey (44) and Witches Cape (43). After looking at their various pros and cons, I decided there was just the slightest leaning towards just Melanie. She finished 2nd to Becker, which had come up with 41 points, with Pied County (40) in 3rd place.

The fifth race was far more inviting and here's how I assessed the runners. using Greyhound Recorder form as usual.

The pre-race favourite Camden Dancer, from Box 1, came in quite well with 41 points. He got no points for early pace but six and 10 for Mid-race and Late Speed, three points for his Win-Place Strike, six points for the interference factor (remember here that the less interference expected the more points are allotted), three points for Track Ability and three points for Recent Times. He also got 10 points for his Rails Draw.

A much more interesting runner was Busy Princess from Box 2. She came in very well by amassing 50 points, even though getting none for her Track Ability (no runs at Wenty). What brought her in was sound form on country tracks like Orange, Temora and Cootamundra, where she had won her last three starts, the latest over 518m at Cootamundra, indicating the 520m would hold no terrors for her.

Of the remaining runners, the dog with the highest points tally was Citizen's Image, which got 36 points, including 18 for early, Mid-race and Late Speed, a guesstimate really because the bitch's country form record gave no indication of her racing style. In cases like this I tend to give the middle six points figure.

The next two points-scorers were Marley Man and Frosty Legend, both with 33. I narrowed the final three contenders to Busy Princess, Camden Dancer and Citizen's Image, but studying the form in-depth I had to tip towards Camden Dancer, mainly because of his proven Wentworth Park record. He had a 30.52s qualifying trial time, and last December had finished three-quarters of a length 2nd to a 30.29s winner.

Against this, though, was the fact that Camden Dancer had failed to win at Wenty in nine previous starts there, though he had been placed seven times. He also was a notoriously slow beginner. I felt that Box 1 m might enable him to overcome trouble so I didn't challenge Camden Dancer's right to the top selection spot. What I thought was ideal would be to couple him with the other two in quinellas and a trifecta. On the trifecta side, I was tempted to play Camden Dancer as a banker and link it with the other four top points scorers.

Mat I hadn't expected was the tote value on offer about Citizen's Image. I was actually holidaying in Queensland when this meeting was held and backed Citizen's Image on the TAB when I saw that it was paying more than $30 for the win! Those odds seemed amazing considering that it came into the race as definitely one of the three prime chances. When you strike instances like this-long odds available about any of the top three prospects -it is advisable to bet on them. You are always chasing value! When it offers itself, grab it.

Citizen's Image won the race, paying $31.55, with Busy Princess in 2nd place and Marley Man 3rd. The quinella paid $72, the trifecta more than $1500.

These are just some examples of how you can 'strike' at the greyhounds by studying form in a logical, consistent fashion. Much of it will be your own subjective judgement, of course, but after an initiation period of trial and error you will soon learn that you can, indeed, trust your own judgement in matters of form appraisal.

For those of you who would like to concentrate on Wentworth Park meetings, but who do not live in Sydney, I suggest you order Priority Paid delivery of the Greyhound Recorder newspaper-formguide. A three-months' subscription for each Saturday meeting costs $71 to interstate subscribers. Delivery should be on Friday mornings to major centres.

Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 1.

By George ‘Barker’ Bellfield