It is difficult to know how to go about eliminating greyhounds from a wager. You must decide which greyhound or greyhounds will not finish in the money.

If you have a fairly accurate method of eliminating greyhounds, then you should accept the results and stick with them. You have to draw the line somewhere.

No method will give you 100 per cent accuracy, but the worst thing you can do is to use a different approach in every single race.

Greyhound races are very evenly matched. For this reason you must establish rules to use when deciding which dogs must go.

If, say, the mechanics of a race show that a greyhound you are considering eliminating has a positive box draw then I think this is the only situation in which you should deviate from your established method. The advantageous draw will provide an opportunity for the worst dog in a race to actually win.

If it's not feasible to add this greyhound to your bet then you should pass the race. Add the dog, or pass. No other options.

There are about five approaches you can take in locating greyhounds to drop from consideration in a race. Let's look at them:

The first and safest greyhound to eliminate is the one with the average slowest time. When you handicap a race you are trying to determine which dog will finish the race the fastest; therefore, you are always handicapping for speed.

Some punters claim speed is not important. They claim they are evaluating which greyhound has the best chance of getting around the first turn ahead of the pack, or which dog has the most class. Both of these factors are intertwined with speed, and speed is actually a very important part of their evaluation process.

If you calculate the average speed of all the dogs in a race you'll find that the best candidate for elimination is the one with the slowest average speed. In most cases it takes more than six lines in the formguide to identify this dog but only using six lines (last six races) it's still fairly accurate.

This greyhound will not finish in the money in the vast majority of races unless it has just been lowered in grade OR if it has a good box draw. In fact, the dog will finish in the money less than 20 per cent of the time.

Now, if the slowest dog has just dropped in grade you may not be able to count it out of your multiple. Its finishing times in the higher class races may have distorted its times because it was outclassed.

Use extreme caution whenever you drop a dog posted in Box #1 or #8, since these boxes can very easily offer an advantage. This is not to say you MUST bet a greyhound in either of these boxes, but rather that they must be scrutinised with great care before a decision is taken to eliminate them.

A second method of elimination is to omit a greyhound that went off at fairly high odds at its last start.  But take care not to dump a dog like this if it is being dropped in grade, and also make sure that the dog did not perform extremely well last start.

I don't eliminate dogs being lowered in grade because they have been running with superior greyhounds and have been unable to win at that grade. Even though these dogs may not win a race the first time they are dropped in grade, they will still finish in the money with enough frequency to be a strong threat.

A dog that ran really well at its last start may be back in form. For this reason you do not want to eliminate this runner, even if it went off at the highest odds last time out.

Why do I use odds to help me make my elimination decision? Two heads are better than one, and the fans at the track are not that far off when selecting greyhounds. You can bet that if the crowd says a greyhound does not have a very good short of finishing in the money then it will usually finish OUT of the trifecta.

A third candidate for elimination is the dog that has demonstrated that it cannot compete in the class of the race. But be careful. Don't automatically drop the greyhound that is moving up in class.

It's better to cross out a greyhound that has just been lowered in grade because of poor performances than to dump a greyhound that has just won a race and is moving up in class for the first time.

This dog should only be dropped if it decreased its lead between the back straight and the finish at its last start, or if it is totally outclassed in the present race. A dog that has just won a race may also be dropped if it does not have an advantageous box draw.

Once the previous eliminations have been made, a fourth approach is to evaluate the "grades" in the past performance lines.

Single out the two dogs with the lowest grades in their past performance lines. Evaluate them and the strength of the field to determine which of the two has the lowest chance of finishing in the money. It's statistically difficult for both lower-grades dogs to finish in the trifecta; therefore, eliminate the weaker of the two.

You can feel fairly certain about eliminating one of the pair, if there are four or more runners that have competed at higher grades. If four dogs show higher grades in their form lines, they all have the ability to win at the grade of the race being looked at. Given these circumstances, it will be extremely difficult for the greyhounds with the lowest grades to finish in the placings.

The fifth and final approach is to evaluate the mechanics of the race. This is an extremely difficult process.

Due to different running styles and the makeup of races, certain dogs may benefit from their box draw while others find themselves at a disadvantage. In some cases, the most talented dog is badly boxed.

These races should not be played. Other races should be played because a greyhound with very good odds has picked up a large advantage.

A certain dog may get pinched by two adjacent greyhounds that run toward the dog in the middle. This dog may not be able to get free fast enough to get into the race. If he hasn't got any late speed the race could be over for the dog before the first turn.

Conversely, if the dog running from Box #8 is a rails runner with a great deal of early speed, it can give the dog in Box #7 a substantial advantage. After the 8-dog slashes across the field going to the first turn, the 7-box dog may be the first runner to find racing room. This is especially true if the greyhound from Box #7 is a later breaker.

Most fans are aware of the benefits that Box #8 gives to a wide runner, but many do not realise what an advantage the wide running 8-dog creates for the Box 7 runner.

Let's look now at the greyhounds with the strongest, or greatest number of correlations who should possess the ability to win a race.

  1. The two greyhounds with the highest grade in the formlines. These are the class runners in the field and are superior to their rivals, particularly if they are just being lowered in grade. This class has a strong correlation with speed and these dogs should be able to race regardless of how bad their past performances may be. They can often overcome the disadvantages of a negative box draw.
  2. The greyhound with the lowest average odds. The crowd has determined that this dog is extremely consistent. If it is competing in the same grade as its last race and it went off at relatively low odds last start then this dog is probably the most consistent runner in the race.
  3. A greyhound that has finished in the money over 50 per cent of its past eight or more races is always a threat to take a spot in the trifecta, even though it may not always be a winning threat.
  4. The dog that has won the most races in the current grade of race. However, it may be difficult to pinpoint such a dog if you have only limited formlines available.
  5. The dog with the best winning strike rate percentage is probably the most dangerous greyhound in the race.
  6. A greyhound in an exceptionally advantageous box position, even if it's the worst dog in the race, can win. For instance, the 8-box by far offers the greatest advantage for avoiding trouble. The slowest dog in the race can win from this draw.
  7. A greyhound that is a front runner plus is one that consistently breaks first or second and is consistently in the first two after the first bend. This dog is able to avoid trouble at the first turn and if there is a shuffle-up behind it the dog can easily establish a lead that cannot be overtaken. Greyhounds with this running style will win more races than any other running style.

*Pender Noriega is one of the world's best form experts on greyhound racing. His books are available from Internet book shops which specialise in greyhound racing publications.

By Pender Noriega