If there is one thing we can all agree on – there is just too much racing.
Everybody says it so it must be true.
But what exactly is there too much of?
Clearly – too many races.
Or is that just idle thinking lacking any real basis for debate?
Last Monday, there were 138 races staged in Britain at 11 different meetings. Ten years ago, on an equivalent Monday there were 101 races from 8 different meetings. Around a third less.
But how about a proper look back? How about Monday August 1 1994?
Early afternoon you might have headed to Bristol (12 races) or Monmore (12) both including some 8-dog fields.
In the evening, you had a choice of: Canterbury (12), Catford (12), Crayford (12), Hackney (12), Middlesbrough (11) Mildenhall (12), Nottingham (12), Perry Barr (13), Peterborough (11), Ramsgate (10), Romford (12), Stainforth (12), Swindon (12), Wembley (13).
I make that 16 meetings and 190 races.
Ah yes! But there were many more tracks in those days. They didn’t have to race as often!
Interesting how the memory can play tricks.
Although Stainforth (as was) were only racing twice a week, all the others raced at least three times.
Bristol, Canterbury and Catford raced four times a week. Romford held five weekly meetings. Hackney and Perry Barr raced six times every six days (although Sunday racing had just been legalised, virtually nobody was doing it).
The difference of course is that the majority of those meetings were held in the evenings. BAGS racing started at 1.48pm and finished at 5.20pm with only two tracks being covered.
Last Monday, every single race was beamed into betting shops or homes via RPGTV.
I wonder, did anybody suggest there was too much racing in 1994?
Did we even consider that there a welfare issue back then?
That is an interesting debate. I don’t have an inventory on what track preparation equipment was available but I will guarantee would have been a fraction of what it is now.
We have high powered tractors (often with back-ups), deep harrows, scarifiers, crumblers, bowsers and bore holes. No matter how much fund income has plummeted, it has never affected track preparation.
So are the injuries related to over racing or warm weather?
I entirely take on board Mark Wallis’ comments last week ‘yes we know there will be more injuries in a hot summer, but that doesn’t explain why they happen’.
He is 100% correct in my opinion.
Lazy thinking argues ‘it is because the tracks are so much faster in the summer’.
Study the ‘fastest of the year’ chart and June produced 18 of the year’s best times, followed by April and May with 16 each. Injury ravaged July, with 11 FOYs, was on par with January.
Surely, there is something there that needs investigation?
There is an argument that says that the ‘over racing’ issue is based on the decline in the number of greyhounds being born.
It is true that in 1992, the year that would have produced the largest number of runners in 1994, there were combined 5,090 litters born in Britain and Ireland, a figure halved by 2016.
But they were providing runners for 37 NGRC tracks and 43 independents. What’s the current total, about 29?
So – before anyone starts blaming the media rights battle for all the industry’s ills, everything from lame dogs to non-runners, let’s try and keep to the facts.
The one message that I get from looking back to racing 24 years ago is that it was much more exciting to watch.
Quite frankly, I wouldn’t watch an average 2018 sterilised, unvarying typical ARC/SIS meeting if I lived in the middle of the circuit.
On a very average summer Monday in 1994, Monmore and Bristol both staged a variety of six and eight runner races. Monmore also staged a handicap hurdle. These were BAGS meetings remember.
Six of the tracks staged Monday night opens. The Romford all-graded card included three 575m races, a graded hurdle and a graded 750.
The Saturday night BAGS meeting at Bristol featured opens over four distances, plus graded racing over four distances and included a handicap hurdle.
And the reasons that the tracks provide less variety for racegoers is. . . . .
We would like to but there’s too much racing!!