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    Dog evaluation and class assignment
Dog evaluation and class assignment
Greyhound evaluation. Source: uk gambling sites

Dog evaluation and class assignment

The race always involves dogs of the same ability level, mainly in terms of speed. This ensures the integrity of the competition and the reliability of the results.

Determining a Dog's Abilities

Greyhound racing at UK racecourses is overseen by the Greyhound Board, GBGB, except for Thornton's clap track. The GBGB Racing Office coordinates racing and qualifications for new or young dogs, collaborating closely with trainers, owners, veterinary services, and track services.

Each dog is unique, with varying speed, endurance, temperament, and mental abilities. The crucial data for evaluation is the speed of each dog. Race managers at GBGB racecourses assess dogs and place them in speed classes, organising qualifying races which are crucial for a dog's career progression.

Greyhound trainers know their dogs well and declare them for the most suitable distance at the track - sprint, stayer, marathon, or average. Dogs participate in qualifying races over their chosen distance to determine their abilities. If needed, additional tests may be required to assess a dog's readiness for a specific class.

Each class has standard speed indicators, with dogs being assigned a class based on their qualifying times compared to the standard table. Once a dog is classified, it can enter races, have its name listed on race cards, and be included in the race calendar.

A1 class race at Oxford Stadium. Source: greyhoundstar.co.uk
A1 class race at Oxford Stadium. Source: greyhoundstar.co.uk

Graduated racing

The race program includes various types of races such as sprint, intermediate, stayer, marathon, handicap, and steeplechase, each designated by a different letter code. There are also races specifically for puppies and inexperienced dogs. Each race type is graded based on the dog's speed in trial tests, with lower numbers indicating higher capability. For example, A7 would indicate a middle-distance runner with average abilities, while P2 would represent a young dog showing promise in trial runs.

2024 Race 2 winner Kent Silver Salver. Source: greyhoundstar.co.uk
2024 Race 2 winner Kent Silver Salver. Source: greyhoundstar.co.uk

 Moving through grades

Dog ratings are not something immutable, given once and for all. Having left the kennel and started running at the hippodrome, over time the greyhound gets used to the new environment and lifestyle, its abilities grow, and accordingly the results improve.

For example, a speed of 38-39 mph corresponds to grades A1-A3, a speed of 37-38 mph corresponds to A4-A6, and a speed of 35-37 mph corresponds to A7-A11.

The principle of changing the rating is obvious: if the greyhound wins the race, it is moved to a higher class: from A7 to A6. That is, our conditional athlete, participating in the race of his A7 class, won with the best time, his speed was above 37 mph, and he deservedly moves to a higher class, A6.

And if he loses and worsens his time, the class is downgraded: A7 changes to A8.

During the season, a greyhound can rise as a result of a successful series of races from position A10 to A1.

Greyhound Grading System. Source: Craps:DICE CONTROL for Casino Craps
Greyhound Grading System. Source: Craps:DICE CONTROL for Casino Craps

The Hartwell grading system adopted at greyhound racing in the USA, which no longer exists, is indicative. If depicted graphically, these are connected ascending and descending stairs. At the beginning of a greyhound's career, it is on the bottom rung of the ascending ladder, moving higher and higher with each winning finish. Finally, she reaches the highest level, this is the maximum possible results that she can achieve while being in the best physical shape, and this is the maximum class of her performances.

Then the greyhound passes the peak of its physical form, wins fewer and fewer prizes, its class is lowered, retirement is ahead and, at best, a foster family or shelter.

Graded races are mainly held at one racetrack. It is not profitable for trainers and owners to take risks and change the conditions of the race for their dog. They change from racecourse to racecourse, and a greyhound that performs well on one track may turn out to be an outsider on another.

Open Race competitions stand apart in the greyhound racing system. These are high-class elite races, where the best champions from different race tracks participate, the prize fund of these races is large. These are, for example, the English Derby, St. Ledger, Oaks and others. The prize fund for the English Derby in 2024 was £235,000, with the winner receiving £175,000. By comparison, prizes for Group A races can range from £350 to £450.

If a greyhound consistently shows good and even outstanding results in class 1 races, for example A1, S1, P1, then it is approaching the Open Race.

There is its own gradation, OR1, OR2 and OR3, races of categories 1, 2 and 3. Whatever the class of the Open Race, these races are more prestigious than graduated races; they identify national champions and national heroes. Participating in, let alone winning, such a race is a dream for any greyhound owner. There is room to strive and improve results.

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