An essential part of a night at the greyhound races is being able to interpret the race card as it contains a lot of information about each race. It is therefore important to understand what the letters and numbers mean at the top of each race in the card as it tells you what grade of race it is, the distance it is to be run over, the type of dogs running and more besides. Here is a quick overview of what the different types of greyhound races are and how to identify them in your race card.
The type (or grade) of race is usually the first thing you see to the top left of the card. This will be in most cases the time the race is due to start. That is followed by a letter (to signify the grade of the race) and a number (which represents the distance of the race in metres). So by way of a quick example if you see something like 19:30 A5 500 that means that the race is due off at half past seven, it is a grade A5 and the distance to be raced is 500 metres. But there are other grades and distances involved which we will cover next.
OR means open race. As the name suggests it is open to all dogs and therefore attracts greyhounds with a higher level of ability. Sometimes there are additional race conditions such as age, maidens (not won a race). The best greyhounds will often travel to tracks away from where they normally race as the prize money involved can be worth the journey.
Now we are in to graded races, which make up the fayre at most meetings. The number immediately to the left of the letter is the grade. The higher the number the better the dog. For example an A2 race is of a better grade than an A6. The greyhounds which run in graded races are based on their most recent times so in theory at least they are of equal or very similar ability.
D means it is a sprint race. This is usually run over a distance of between 250 – 300 metres spanning two bends of the track.
A is the majority grade. Most graded races are A grade. The distance of races is usually between 450 – 500 metres or roughly on lap of the track plus a run-in to the first bend.
S means it is a race for “stayers” – in other words for greyhounds capable of racing over longer distances. These types of races are usually 600 metres and upwards in distance taking place over six bends of the track or around a lap and a half.
P means the race is restricted to young greyhounds (puppies) no more than two years old. The distance can vary from race to race so watch for that in the number next to the P so you are aware of the distance of the race.
Occasionally you may see HCP or just H. HCP signifies it is a handicap race with dogs’ starting positions staggered according to their ability. The best dogs give the poorer dogs a start based on recent performance and ability. H signifies it is a hurdle race over which the dogs have to jump at least three hurdles.