Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend: NOTRA

Photo by Alicia Bienenfeld

The second day of RCRA's Memorial Day weekend race meets is dedicated to NOTRA. It's been a really long time since I've run my dogs on the oval, and every time I attend an oval meet I wonder why I've been keeping myself, and them, from this awesome sport!

After the LGRA meet the previous day, Gilly was pretty tired, and a little bit sore, so I decided to leave him home and just take the other two boys, plus Hattie Greyhound. Looking back now, it was a good idea to leave him behind, even if he had been feeling up to it, just because of the nature of oval races. Oval racing poses risks that sprint racing does not, because you have several dogs running as fast as they can and turning around a corner at high speed. Traffic is common on the first bend, and if a dog is not very experienced it can be difficult and dangerous for them to navigate around the other dogs, and if they are not accustomed to turning they often run wide. Since Pi and Yumi had never run NOTRA before, it was safer for me to keep the entry low, so as to reduce traffic and risk of injury until they got the hang of it.

Breaking from the boxes
Photo by Alicia Bienenfeld

Boxing the boys was easier this time around than it had been the day before, and Yumi was breaking a lot better, although still a bit late. Nevertheless, Yumi ran fantastically. Oval racing is very different from sprint racing in that a dog does not necessarily have to be the fastest in order to win. Many dogs who do not have a prayer of winning a sprint racing meet find themselves victorious on the oval if they have that special combination of speed and the unique and seemingly inborn talent to run the track strategically.

Yumi hits the rail from the outside box
Photo by Alicia Bienenfeld

The best oval dogs are the dogs that know how to move towards the inside rail and stay there for the duration of the race, even when they have the disadvantage of drawing an outside box. In my limited experience, this is not something that can be trained into the dog; they either do it or they don't.

Yumi, NOTRA meet winner
Photo by Alicia Bienenfeld

A good rail dog is a sight to behold, and Yumi certainly has that quality. Twice, he drew the outside box, and both times he hit that rail and ran with it. He won two out of the three programs, which means he won the meet and took home his first ORC point. The only race he lost was the last program, where he was either really tired or perhaps a little bit cocky, which allowed Pi to surge past him at the last moment on the backstretch.

Yumi says, "You won't beat me again young whippersnapper!"
Photo by Alicia Bienenfeld

Overall it was a great day, and I was super proud of all of my dogs. I promise to make a greater effort to attend more NOTRA meets from now on! To close, here's a video of the very last program where Pi managed to pull off a win:

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