Important information about Racing Championship Runoffs
By: Bob Franklin
an avid fan of Jack Russell Racing and over the years, I have done as
much as I can to make JRT Racing safe, great fun for everyone and as
fair and unbiased as possible for all competitors.
Recently though, I was an observer in a part of racing that must
be explained and fully understood by all Trial Chair people and anyone
who judges racing.
Many racing judges choose to remove
some of the hurdles for the Championship Run-offs to presumably make
run-offs part flat and part hurdle racing.
The theory is that some dogs are faster than others on the flat
while other dogs are better hurdlers.
Removal of some of the hurdles for Championship Run-offs is an
attempt to make it so that either type of race winner has an equal
chance of winning the Racing Championship.
However, I believe that there are very
important factors that need to be considered when hurdles are removed
for JRT Championship Run-offs.
To explain, consider the following.
In some other types of racing over jumps or hurdles, the spacing
of these jumps is crucial.
In human hurdle racing for example, total disaster would occur if the
hurdles are even a few inches differently spaced than prescribed by the
rules. Same is the case with
competition horse jumping -
mostly for double and triple jumps that are in short sequence.
Training for human hurdlers and horse jumpers is done over the
prescribed spacing for each type of competition.
Both human hurdlers and human ridden horse jumpers practice their
jumping over and over and use precisely the same number and length of
steps (strides) between each hurdle.
If hurdles are not properly placed, the human or horse would most
likely crash on the “out of sequence” jump.
I also, believe that spacing of hurdles
is important for JRTs.
Granted, the dogs are smaller than humans or horses, dogs are excellent
and nimble athletes and JRT hurdles are relatively small.
Also, the length of space available between hurdles is relatively
greater than the length of the stride of the dog so does not exactly
dictate how many strides a dog uses unlike the requirements for human
and horse hurdlers. I
personally like to see JRT hurdles spaced 10 yards apart because that
seems to be a space most good racing JRTs can perform satisfactorily,
but this exact spacing does not appear to be critical.
However, once the hurdle spacing is established on any
given day of JRT racing, I feel that all the rest of the hurdles on the
race-track should be placed at that same spacing.
Change the spacing between hurdles or alter the spacing mid-day
and frequently the best and fastest hurdle racers will crash and burn.
Why is this the case?
I believe that during the first heats over hurdles, the dogs
quickly learn the existing spacing of the hurdles and can then judge how
many strides they must take between successive hurdles.
The fastest and best hurdlers are just barely clearing the
hurdles and I believe that even a small change in that spacing from
hurdle to hurdle often
causes them to misjudge and hit a hurdle since there is so little room
for error on their part. The
slower “dum de dum” racers rarely have a problem because they are not
going as fast and they usually clear each hurdle by a “goodly” amount.
But of course, these slower racers seldom make the Championship
Run-offs -- only the fastest hurdle racers make the runoffs along with
the fastest flat racers.
On this day to which I referred in the
first paragraph, the racing judge was working with six hurdles on an
approximately 75 yard track.
The judge elected to remove the second, fourth and last hurdles for the
Championship Run-offs. Out
of the six racing categories having runoffs – adult, veteran and senior
(overs and unders) – three
of these run-offs had dogs hit the second hurdle (originally the third
hurdle). Since the hurdles
were foam, no dogs were hurt, but of course the race results were
totally bogus. The number of
dogs hitting that second hurdle was so dramatic that numerous people
were commenting and wondering why.
Then after discussion, most
realized why. The
judge by removing every other hurdle, had changed the spacing
between hurdles !!
An interesting sequel happened the next
day with essentially the same dogs in the runoffs, when that day’s judge
took out the first and last two hurdles.
No dogs in the runoffs on that day hit hurdles because even
though the first hurdle was further down the track, the rest of the
hurdles had the same spacing as they had been all day.
I hope there is a well understood moral to this story.
Never change hurdle spacing for Championship Run-offs.
Depending on how many hurdles the judge wants to remove, always
remove hurdles from the beginning and/or the ending – not in the middle.