To many betting fans, the sport of Greyhound Racing is still seen as the poorer cousin of horse racing. In respect of money and profile, there may well be some truth in this, but those who spurn this medium are missing a trick or two in terms of high-octane excitement and profitable betting opportunities. So why should we bet on the dogs?
Firstly – and this is no more than common sense – it is that bit easier to pick winners consistently on the dogs than it is on the horses. The reason for this is purely one of numbers. The vast majority of greyhound races – certainly in the Uk and Ireland – are limited to six dogs. This is considerably lower than the average field size for horse racing which has been steady at just under nine in the UK for some time now.
Another overlooked factor which Greyhound betting has over horse racing is that there are no jockeys to ruin our well thought out wagers with an inconsistent ride – possibly the favourite lament of punters in betting shops around the world. From the moment the traps open, you can be assured that every one of the animals will be chasing after that hare just as fast as they are able on the day. In this regard, many see the dogs as one of the purest sports around. Moreover, betting on the dogs is tough to beat for excitement. A race completed in around 30 seconds or so. The races and - therefore betting opportunities - come thick and fast. Let’s take a closer look.
With it being a broadly similar sport to horse racing, the two sports share many of the most popular betting options:
To Win: The simplest and most popular, this is simply a bet on your chosen dog to win the race.
Each Way: One bet on the dog to win and another to the same stake for the dog to finish “placed”. The win portion will be paid at the full odds listed, with the place portion returning 1/4 of the win odds.
Place Only: Available on the tote, this differs from an each-way bet as it requires only one stake and the return will be the same whether the dog finishes first or second.
Forecast: A bet predicting which dog will win and which will finish second.
Reverse Forecast: Here your selections can finish first or second in either order. Note this bet requires double the stake of a standard forecast bet as it is in effect two bets.
Combination Forecast: Here you may select three or more dogs and you win should any combination of these fill the first two positions. The number of bets can begin to mount up though. Three dogs in a combination forecast, for example, results in a total of six bets.
Trio/Tricast: More adventurous than the forecast, this bet predicts the first second and third in the right order.
Combination Trio/Tricast: Much like a combination forecast, but here your selections can fill the first three positions in any order. A combination Trio of three dogs again results in a total of six bets.
Go Outside When It Rains
Much like in horse racing, it can pay to keep a close eye on the weather when weighing up those greyhound wagers. If the rain arrives, you should, in general, be looking to support the outside traps. As greyhound tracks are contoured slightly towards the inside, any water on the track will tend to flow towards the centre, making conditions on the inside that bit more sloppy and slippery. This can play havoc on a greyhound drawn on the inside to maintain its speed – already having to go around a tighter bend than those on the outside, this can become all the more difficult should the underfoot conditions be far from secure. Should one of the outside runners like to get to the front, then so much the better, as it can be especially difficult for dogs to come from behind in the face of what can be substantial kick back. In short siding with the outside traps in the rain can be a route to profit.
Look To Have Youth On Your Side
As with any form of betting, what we are looking for when seeking a value betting opportunity is a performer whose ability is not fully factored into their price. In the world of greyhound racing, this factor is most likely to be in evidence in a younger animal. Dogs learn through experience and therefore any animal who has only had 15 or fewer runs – nearly always a younger dog - is likely to be open to significant improvement; both through continuing to grow and strengthen, and as it becomes more familiar with the track and the bends it will face. The price of an older dog with a vast number of runs under its belt will nearly always be the right one as the bookies and betting public have seen time and again their capability. With younger pups, this often won’t be the case.
Look Beyond The Obvious
Tempting as it may be to lean towards a short-priced favourite on the dogs, it can often pay to take a moment and look again at a race. Remember that in greyhound racing plenty can and often does go wrong. Do you really want to be nailing your colours to the mast of a short-priced runner with so much depending on the break and luck in running? While favourites can offer value, in the long run jumping on short prices in the dogs is not the route to profit. Is the favourite likely to get a clear run to the first bend? Has it found trouble in running in the past? Considering the answers to these questions can often steer you away from a potentially dodgy market leader and towards the real value in a given race.
Know Your Tracks
At first glance, one greyhound track can appear much like any other. This is a misleading first impression though as the attributes required from one track can be markedly different from those which enable a dog to prevail at another.
Two of the most extreme tracks when it comes to a bias towards a particular type of runner are the relatively short and tight venues of Romford and Crayford. Getting to the first bend first is pretty much always a positive when it comes to greyhound racing. Far better to be out in front taking the corners alone than involved in what can become a melee of dogs scrapping for position in behind. Nowhere is this advantage more pronounced than at the two tracks mentioned above where the tighter bends increase the chance of trouble for those in behind. The shorter straights provide a smaller window of opportunity for the closers to build up a head of steam. Split times – basically a measure of how quickly a dog starts a race – are your best friend at tracks such as Romford and Crayford
At the other extreme, we have tracks such as Hove which place far more emphasis on stamina. The more extended strip, smoother bends and longer straights all give ample opportunity for those running in behind to reel in any leader who may not have the stamina and staying power.
In general, a common sense approach will put you on the right path here. The shorter the trip, the more you should favour those fast starting front-runners, with this attribute decreasing in importance as the length of a race increases.
The Path To Success Is Clear
Many would say that the most critical factor when it comes to picking winners in greyhound racing is the ability to accurately predict which dog - or dogs - are likely to obtain a clear run, meaning to avoid any potential trouble or interference with the other runners.
Thankfully the race cards and race card comments can help us greatly in this regard. Any runner who likes to stay wide in their races will be denoted with a (w) beside their name on the race card. Likewise (m) signifies one who likes to stick towards the middle of the track. Further clues can be found through looking at the in-running comments from a dog's recent performances – also available on the race card.
Rls: The dog made towards the rail.
Rls-Mid: The dog drifted from the rail towards the middle.
Mid-Rls: The dog drifted from the middle towards the rail.
Mid-W: The dog drifted from the middle to wide.
W-Mid: The dog drifted from wide to the middle.
Reading through these comments for each dog in a given race should give you a good picture as to how the race may unfold, which dogs are likely to affect each other’s chances by attempting to run in the same channels, and which are likely to be allowed to plough a lone furrow. Always aim to side with the latter.
It’s Always Best To Name Your Dog on the Betting Slip
A word of warning, having analysed a race and come to the conclusion that Trap 4: Speedy Gonzalez is the one to be on, we would always advise writing the name of the dog on your betting slip before placing the bet online. The reason for this is that should you only specify Trap 4, and Speedy Gonzalez is then withdrawn, you will be on whichever reserve dog takes its place in the line-up. Undoubtedly not what you hoped for when putting in the time to study the race.
It’s not without good reason that the sport of greyhound racing is regularly the third most attended sport in the UK – behind only football and horse racing – as it indeed is one of the most exciting betting mediums around.
Whether you are looking to make a quick profit on a night out at the dogs or seeking a more serious long-term betting opportunity, following the above advice should help put you in front of the pack and well on the way to the winning post.