There are, I suggest, three aspects of greyhound racing handicapping. As a crowd, we tend to ignore at least one of the three.

I shall list these aspects of greyhound racing in the following manner:

  1. Statistical.
  2. Situational Evaluation.
  3. Bet Structure.

Okay, firstly let's deal with the statistical side. I'll call it Plan 1. This relates to the general form analysis we do, whereby we assess the various factors relating to past performances and times.

Plan 2 is the angle that often is ignored. Here we try to assess how each dog's chances are going to be affected by the other runners, in regard to box position, early pace, possibility of interference, and how the race will actually be run.

Plan 3 is structured on Plans 1 and 2 and it's all about how you will bet your selections.

If we assume that luck plays a 10 per cent role in any race, how should you apportion your time in working out the three aspects of the approach. I believe that you need to spend half your time on Plan 2. It's that important! You can then spend, say, 25 per cent each on the other two areas.

Most fans, of course, will devote almost all their time to the form analysis, or the 'statistical handicapping'. But it is only one step in the game.

It's certainly the start of the process, but once completed it's not the end of the task. Having isolated the dogs that you feel are the main chances, you then need to bring in Plan 2 to determine how each is going to be affected by all the other 'situational' factors.

I've found over the years that in most races there isn't all that much between the best and the worst. Often, there is just a length or two between the entire field and, as we know, this translates in speed terms to only about 6/100th to 12/100th of a second.

It doesn't take much, then, for the best dog to cop interference that can cost it the race. You can spend all the time you like poring over speed figures to discover which dogs are the fastest and by how much, but on their own they will mostly not tell you the winner of the race.

How will everything come together in the race itself? This is the onerous task facing the committed punter. No two races are ever going to be the same. With this in mind, a dog may well win from box 8 in one race but when he starts from the same box next time out he is going to face a completely different scenario to the previous one.

The best dog in a race may not be suited by its box draw, but even if he is, what about the dogs on the outside, or on the inside, as well? How are they going to affect his chances?

You may well find that the worst dog in the race has got such a good draw that he might miss all the likely interference. If there are only a couple of lengths between him and the best dog, then it could be that a good box draw slips him in with a great chance.

How do we then predict how a race is going to work out? I think we can split it into various areas, as follows:

  1. Assess the speed capability, of each runner; that is, determine the time they can run, based on past performances.
  2. Look closely at each dog's starting ability from the boxes. Are they likely to be slowly away? Fast away? Are they medium breakers likely to be caught by outside runners veering in?
  3. Early pace. Which dogs have been shown to possess early speed and how does this relate to the box they're in, and to those dogs around them?
  4. Late speed. Which dogs will finish hard, and will they be able to produce late speed and win? How do their rivals shape up in this area, and how will the early speed of the race affect their ability to come from behind and win?
  5. The track itself. Examine each dog's experience there. Do some dogs have an advantage?
  6. The running habits of each runner. Are they railers? Wide runners?

Late closers? Erratic? How will their individual habits affect other runners? Can a wayward-running dog affect the best dog?

NEXT MONTH: How to bet the final selections!

Click here to read Part 2.

By George 'Barker' Bellfield