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Understanding Greyhound Form

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Greyhound Form Explained

In this piece I want to teach you how to win at greyhound racing. But before we can do that we need to understand the greyhound racing so today I'm going to explain how the form is recorded for the dogs. I'll then go on to share a strategy that I have used for years whenever I bet the dogs.

So below you will see a screenshot of some greyhound racing form and below that a list of what the various items mean.

Racing Post Greyhound racing form
Greyhound racing form – Click to Enlarge

[1] Starting with the easy, this is the trap that the dog will run from

[2] The dogs name & (W) indicates that this dog is a wide runner and consequently it will be allocated one of the outside traps each time it runs. You may also see (M) which indicates a middle runner and this dog will be allocated a middle trap.

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[3] The best recent (Calculated) time that the greyhound has achieved along with details of the grade and the date. In this case the best time came in a trial, a trial is a qualifying race which helps the racing manager to know how to grade the dog IE what is it's ability what race should he put it in. Trials will usually have less than 6 runners, 3 in this case, and there is no betting on trials.

[4] The name of the trainer.

[5] This is the Racing Post rating for the dog. It is time based and personally I don’t pay much attention to it.

[6] A description of the animal in this case a F b which is a fawn bitch (female) a male will be indicated with a d for dog. This is followed by the name of the dogs sire (father), dam (mother) and the date whelped (Date of Birth).

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[7] Date last in season. Bitches only!

[8] This is the Racing Post's tipsters comment, often vague and and can sway your judgement.

Now we get to the past form for the dog in question. Each line represents one race with the top line being the most recent.

[9] The date of the race.

[10] The track where the race was run.

[11] The distance of the race in metres.

[12] The trap number that the dog ran from on that occasion.

[13] The sectional or split time. This is the time from the traps to the winning line the first time the dog passes the line. This is useful to hep you understand the pace of the dog and whether it is likely to lead early.

[14] Position in race at the start (IE out of the traps), quarter (In a 4 bend race this will be between the 1st & 2nd bends), half and three quarter stages.

[15] Finishing position.

[16] The distance beaten by or if the winner the distance won by.

[17] The name of the winner or the second if this dog was the winner.

[18] The Racing Manager's in running comments for that run (see below for a guide to the abbreviations used)

[19] The time that the winner took to complete the race.

[20] The allowance made for the going. N = normal otherwise plus or minus in hundredths of a second EG – 40 means that the time was adjusted down by 40 hundredths of a second.

[21] The starting price of the dog.

[22] The grade of the race. A lot of people ask what ‘T' means in greyhound form, you might find the past race grade described as T1, or T2 or  T3 etc. T stands fro Trial and it is not a race but a run around the track with a few other dogs so the racing manager can assess how good a dog is so he knows how to grade it. The number after the T indicates how many dogs ran in the trial.

Trials are often run before or after the main races of the day and sometimes on dedicated trials days, they are usually open to the public to view.

[23] The calculated time for this dog. This will be calculated from the distance the dog finished behind the winner and adjusted for the going allowance.

Now that we understand the information (form) that we have available next time we can look at how we can use that information.

The greyhound that leads around the first bend has a huge advantage in the race and we can get a lot closer to finding the winner if we find who will lead.

So my preferred strategy is based around determining  which dogs are likely to get a clear run to and around the first bend.

There are two main factors that will determine whether a dog will make it around the first bend unimpeded. These are how fast it is into its stride and whether it will get knocked, bumped, baulked or impeded in anyway by one of the other five dogs in the race.

Today we'll deal with early speed.

Just like athletes and horses some greyhounds are more suitable to sprinting and some are long distance runners, relatively speaking.

We will be looking at standard four bend races which will be somewhere between about 380 metres and 525 metres.

The majority of the dogs running at these distances will be suited to the distance, but some will be more sprint like, with fast early speed and some will be slower into their stride but will be capable of holding their top speed for longer.

These tendencies will show up in their previous sectional times.

These times tell us how long it took for the dog in question to reach the finishing line the first time in each of its previous races. In a four bend race this time will represent a straight line dash, as no bends will have been encountered yet.

If we choose a representative time for each runner in the race we can get an idea of how they will be positioned first time over the line and with a little imagination we can project this picture forward to give us an idea of how things will pan out at the first bend.

There are a few different methods you could use to work out a representative sectional time for each dog.

You could use their fastest sectional, you could use an average of all their times. Both of these methods allow a systematic approach which removes the decision making from the process.

But probably the best way is to be objective and use your judgement.If a dog has done 4 fast sectionals and 1 very slow, probably an average will not be a true representation of its ability. The slow could have just been a bad day!

So day to day I would say use a judgment, but if you were going to research hundreds of past races then you would have to use a consistent approach like the average or fastest.

On average about 60% of races are won by the dog that led at the quarter position (between first and second bends) in a four bend race.

This obviously varies by track but a recent analysis of 100 races at Hall Green showed 64 of those that led at the first bend went on to win.

The easiest way to visualise the positions of the dogs on their way up to the first bend is to either draw out their positions on a piece of squared paper, which is what I used to do, or easier still use a piece of software to show the positions.

(If you use squared paper then you need to convert hundredths of a second into a dogs length, the standard measurement is that a dogs length equals 8 hundredths of a second)

The graphic below is part of a screenshot from a piece of software called Bags Beater (sadly no longer available).

winning greyhound graphic

As you can see it looks like trap five has a definite advantage heading in to the first bend and it subsequently went on to win returning 5/1 but available at 7.2 on Betfair.

But times are not the whole story when it comes to who will lead at the first bend we need to know how the dogs will run to the first bend

Baulking

So we looked at which dog had the fastest sectional times and was likely to lead.

But times don't tell the full story. There are other factors that effect the run up to the first bend and they can all be grouped together into one question.

That is will the dogs, or at least the one we are interested in, get a clear run to the bend and that's what we'll look at today.

Greyhounds run in a number of distinct styles and track positions.

There are those that want to run close to the rail and those (usually bigger dogs) that prefer to run out wide where the bends are easier to negotiate. Generally speaking when a dog leaves the trap he will aim to get in the position that he prefers.

This will be clearer if I use an extreme example.

If we have a dog that is too big to negotiate the bends near to the rail and needs to run wide around the bends then somewhere between the traps and the first bend he will want to get into the position that is most comfortable.

If that particular dog was starting in trap one then somewhere along the way he will cut in front of, or behind the dogs in traps two to six.

He will most likely bump into or impede some of these other dogs on his way to the bend.

This means that the sectional time that we expect from any other dog that is impeded will not be what we expect it to be. So for example in our screen shot we looked at earlier our trap five may not have had an advantage if he was impeded by others along the way.

To assess the likelihood of any dog getting to the line as quickly as we expect we need to look at its previous races and those of the dogs around it to predict any problems.

Predicting likely trouble from the traps is more of an art than a science but there are clues a plenty in the race card.

First off you want to look for comments in the previous races of the runners. If a runner is slow or very slow away consistently then this is an advantage for the adjacent runners as they will have clear space around them.

Also look for comments regarding a dogs position at the start. You might find an indication that a dog heads for the rails at the start or heads wide at the start EG RlsStt would indicate that the dog in question headed for the inside rail at the start.

When you see comments like this you have to put them into the context of todays race. For example if a dog earns the comment RlsStt but is in trap one today then the comment is not relevant. However if he is in trap two then it may have negative consequences for trap one but be a positive sign for trap three.

Also look at what trap each dog has been running from if a dog is used to trap one but is today in trap three then it may be that he will head to his regular position near the rails.

Use all of the relevant comments and information to build a picture in your mind of how the run to the bend will pan out.

Greyhound Racing Videos

Before I get into the specifics of finding winning dogs by reading the form I want to just give a bit more background info and talk about a method I used to use when I was full time betting the greyhounds…

Finding the winning greyhound in a graded race is about a lot more than the times it has achieved in the past.

Graded racing is the greyhound equivalent of a handicap race except that greyhounds are not allocated any sort of handicap to slow them down.

Instead they selected to be as closely matched as possible.

The Racing Managers job is to put together races that are as closely matched as possible and to, if you like, create a puzzle for the punters.

On course bookmaking at greyhound tracks is notoriously hard, mainly because when money talks in a small market there are not the opportunities to balance out a book. This is the reason that on course overrounds are huge at greyhound tracks and the reason that the Racing Manager does his best to make the races as decipherable as possible.

Don’t let any of this put you off, though, because winners can be found if you are selective and if the meeting is covered by Betfair then fair prices can be obtained also.

As with any activity knowledge equals power or in this case the more you know the more profitable you can be. The ultimate level of knowledge is to have watched every race ever run by every dog in the race to hand and to know how each has been performing at home. (Many trainers these days have some sort of track at their own kennels).

It is unlikely that you can get inside info on every dog in a race but you can often get to see every race a dog has run. For some years now tracks have supplied videos of all races run to those prepared to pay for the privilege. And the backer who focuses on one particular track can, given time, watch every run of a particular animal. However this is an expensive, although ultimately profitable, approach.

I will briefly touch on the things to watch out for when race watching here and next time we'll get on to a more form based approach.

Racing Videos

When watching greyhound racing in the main what you are looking for is

• Dogs that have had a hard race (bumped and blocked) but still performed well indicating they are faster than the time recorded. They are likely faster than the bare form suggests. If you are in the bookies watching the BAGS racing and you see a dog that had a hard race make a note of it and check the results to see what tine it did and estimate what time you think it should have done,. It may be a good bet next time out.

• How a dog breaks from the traps EG do they run straight to the rail, which would cause trouble for the dog inside them but hand an advantage to the dog on their outside. This info can be useful in assessing the chances of the dog in question and other dogs.

• Are they on the bunny! IE doing everything in their power to get in front and win or did they give up easy & just follow the pack home. Chasers, who are not really up for it will win less than their share of races because they don't like to be in front.

Is the Greyhound Fast Enough

Once we have found a dog that looks like it will have a favourable position, ideally in front, at the first bend and will not get any trouble on the way to the bend then all you need to know now is whether it is fast enough to hold onto its lead.

It is very common to find a dog that will get a clear run around and will lead most of the way in a race only to lose in the closing stages.

These sprint type dogs just don’t have the stamina to hold on to the winning line and are a trap for anybody using the kind of strategy that we have discussed here.

The key clue to whether we are dealing with this kind of dog is its past race positions. If it has led previously all the way but still not won then you need to find a reason why it might hang on today. EG If in a previous race the positions are shown as 2111 but the dog didn’t win the race then this is a danger signal.

Maybe it is an easier race today maybe a lower grade. Maybe it is fitter today, if the last run came after rest or it is a puppy who is improving. If you can’t find a reason then maybe you should give this one a miss.

Because graded races are in theory constructed such that any dog could win, other than the types mentioned above, I tend to not pay too much attention to the previous times recorded by each dog. As long as my selection is not way slower than the opposition then I am likely to go with it.

The exceptions to this are where I can see a reason why one of the opposition might improve. These include…

Puppies. Young dogs that are just starting out on their careers and can improve in leaps and bounds.

Rested dogs. Dogs that have been off for a rest and are not yet running to their pre rest form. EG If they were running A4 grade before their rest but are now reappearing in an A6 then it is likely that at sometime soon they will return to the previous grade IE they are better than their opposition.

Bitches that have been in season. Bitches don’t run when they are in season. When they return they tend to find significant improvement at around 16 weeks after their season commenced. This tendency is significant enough to be a profitable strategy in itself.

One final point to keep in mind is that you don’t have to bet just one selection in a race. If you have narrowed a race down to two or three contenders then consider splitting your stakes between them.

Splitting stakes across multiple selections is a strategy I use a lot in greyhound racing. You can either bet the same stake on each dog or adjust your stake so you make the same profit whichever of your selections wins.

You can use our dutching tool that will help you determine the correct stakes for dutching selections.

And that is the method that I use to find winning greyhound selections. As with any betting method you are looking for a dog with a strong chance of winning and one that has a better chance than the available odds suggest. There is no clear cut selection ever, because if a dog is an obvious winner then the odds will reflect that.

But that said I have frequently found selections that I am sure will win, barring accidents, at 4/1 and 5/1.

This free greyhound betting system has worked consistently for 50 years

Greyhound Race Card Abbreviations

Because of limited space greyhound race cards use a lot of abbreviations, some are obvious some not so much, below we have listed them all.

A – always
Aw – away
Awk – awkward
B – badly
Blk – baulked
Bmp – bumped
Bnc – bunched
Bnd – bend
Brk – break
Btn – beaten
Chl – challenged
Ck – checked
Ckg – checking
Clr – clear
CmAg – cameagain
Crd – crowded
Crmp – cramped
Dis – distance
Disp – disputed
DNF – did not finish
Drpd – dropped
E – early
EvCH – every chance
F – fast
Fcd – forced
Fd – faded
Fin – finished
Fr – From
Hgh – high
HldOn – held on
Imp – impeded
Jkt – jacket
Jp – jump(ed)
Lcd – lacked
Ld – lead/led
Lm – lame
Ln – line
Lse – loose
Mid – middle
Mod – moderately
Msd – missed
Mzl – muzzle
Nr – near
Nv – never
Outp – outpaced
P – pace(d)
Pkd – pecked
Q – quick
Rec – record
ReRn – re-run
Rls rails/railed
Rn – ran/run
RnIn – run-in
RnUp – run-up
S – slow
Shw – showed
Slp – slipped
Sn – soon
Stb – stumbled
Stk – struck
Stt – start
Styd – stayed
Swv – swerved
T – to
Tbl – trouble
Th'out – throughout
Tp – trap
V – very
W – wide
Wll – well
Wn – won

What does T mean in greyhound racing form?

A lot of people ask what ‘T' means in greyhound form, you might find the past race grade described as T1, or T2 or  T3 etc. T stands fro Trial and it is not a race but a run around the track with a few other dogs so the racing manager can assess how good a dog is so he knows how to grade it. The number after the T indicates how many dogs ran in the trial.

What colour is Trap 1 in greyhound racing

Trap 1 wears the red coat

What colour is Trap 2 in greyhound racing

Trap 2 wears the blue coat

What colour is Trap 3 in greyhound racing

Trap 3 wears the white coat

What colour is Trap 4 in greyhound racing

Trap 4 wears the black coat

What colour is Trap 5 in greyhound racing

Trap 5 wears the orange coat

What colour is Trap 6 in greyhound racing

Trap 6 wears the white and black striped coat

Which trap wins the most in greyhound racing

At most tracks either trap 1 or trap 6 wins the most because they have the advantage of no other greyhound to one side, but it's not always the case and you should check the stats published by the track you are betting at.

Last updated September 2022

Image courtesy of Saris0000 under Creative Commons 2.0

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