Almanac Racing – The mathematics of dish-licker calling

It’s been decades since I had an interest in racing. Once intensely interested, I’m now down to a pick in a sweep on Melbourne Cup day on a horse I’ve never heard of and never will again.



My listening choices on the drive to and from work are usually concentrated around current affairs, news & sport, with an occasional escape to ABC Classical FM when stress defeats that.



Then I chanced upon TAB Radio, another world of helter-skelter race calls, numbers, odds and dividends, all delivered by race-callers and usually a studio lady named Mercedes.



It’s a non-stop world. Will Capellabah clash with Penola? Will the delay at the barrier mean a no-call due to the fifth in Japan? Will the fourth at Albany finish in time for the seventh at Whangarei?



Amongst all this, I was fascinated by the calls of the dish-licker races. Calling these is a difficult art, often done well, sometimes not so much, but I soon realised the science of mathematics could make a significant contribution to improving the race callers stress levels.



There is a formula in calling the dogs. Start with the early leaders & those starting poorly, then call the whole field in order, then call the winner near the post & finish with the final order after they’re close to the handlers.  It’s all a mad dash, in keeping with the race.



On average, the caller has about 25 seconds from start to finish.  That’s not much time and this is where mathematics comes in. It immediately struck me just how much of that 25 seconds is taken up with wasted words.  A lot of wasted words, often using up to 30-40% of the call.



So the maths recommendations are as follows:



At all times, replace ‘they are followed by; with the word ‘then’.



At all times, replace ‘at the head of the others’ with the word ‘then’.



At all times, replace ‘as they come into the straight’ with … well, just don’t use it, actually. Listeners know that they’re going to go around a turn and come into the straight, strangely enough.



At all times, replace ‘coming around the outside’ with… well again, just don’t use it, actually. It’s irrelevant.



So a description, as most do, containing ‘and they’re followed by, at the head of the others, by Bale Bale coming around the outside as they turn into the straight’ would give the caller time for a cup of tea or more relevant information if omitted.



This has been a service to greyhound race-calling by a non-greyhound follower.



They have my admiration and deserve any assistance available.





The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in 2021. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order HERE



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About Lee Harradine

West Adelaide Life Member and Past President. Cricket and travel tragic. Author of 'Flags, Spoons & Knives' an insider's view of the West Adelaide Football Club.

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