“ Greyhound racing is the sport of racing greyhounds. The dogs chase a lure (an artificial hare or rabbit) on a track until they arrive at the finish line. The one that arrives first is the winner. „
I've now been to two Greyhound racing tracks for two nights out. One with friends (Nottingham), one more recently with work (Peterborough).
On both, we managed to get special deals- At Peterborough Greyhound track £13 for entry, 2 x £1 bets, chicken or scampi and chips, 2 free drinks and a reserved table/ seats. At Nottingham there was a similar deal (£10) for entry, 2 free bets, a free drink and a meal. I preferred the Peterborough track as the Stand consists of two levels, three bars, a restaurant, a take away food area and lots of seats with a view out onto the track. It is larger and plusher than the Nottingham track and the food was better quality. There was more indoor seating with a view over the track.
I am a bit of a novice when it comes to bets, but the guide I was given on the way in explained how the bets work (ie place, to win, trio bets, reverse form, form... what they all cost and what they mean). I found the place full of all age ranges- from parents there with their children to OAPs with their betting money in little bank bags. There are plenty of people there who would hapily explain things to you if you were unsure how to place a bet etc.,
As soon as we arrived, we went to queue for our free food which consisted of standing in two separate queues- one to order, one to collect the food. The food was of a much higher standard than I expected, but we sent about 35 minutes queuing. I had Chicken nuggets and chips- the chips were small like french fries and the chicken nuggets were good quality- nice think breadcrumbs and slightly peppered chicken.
Then it was time to place our first bet. "£1 on [number of dog] to win" is pretty much all you need to say. The evening (7.30-10.30pm) consisted of 14 greyhound races. There was a race approximately every 15 minutes.
6 Dogs are first walked up and down a straight on the track so you can see them, then you have a few minutes to go to the kiosk to place your bets if you haven't already. There are a few places you can go to place bets so the queues are no longer than 5 or 6 people at any one time. Then the dogs are put in the gates and the Hare starts running around the track (a motorised fabric creation with flappy ears that looks from a distance like a Hare). Once the hare passes the gates, these open and the dogs rush out.
Normally most races are over around 420m (one lap), later on you may get one or two races ar 630m (one and a half laps). Over 28 races I have watched, I have seen two dogs fall whilst running. Both were ok, but it was a little shocking the first time I saw a dog lose its footing and roll across the sandy track. When the race was over all the handlers crowded around to see the dog was ok, that showed to me they all muck in and do care a lot about the dogs.
I found both nights to be good fun, The crowd really gets behind the dogs and the races are over in less than a minute, but it is really good fun. The odds are quite small so for a £1 bet, if your dog wins you will get between £3-5. you can place more complex bets such as trying to pick the dogs who will come in places 1, 2, 3 in order etc where the winning are £40-£100. So there is money to be made if you have the knack. I on the other hand, mananged to pick every single dog that came absolute last in every single race I bet on (about 21 over the two events). !
It really is down to random luck. I dont think you can study the form as you can with horses, and this is what makes it a good night. I would heartily recommend going to the Greyhound races if you want a cheap night out (look for offer nights such as Wednesday... or local newspaper promotions). It is good fun for all the family and quite exciting especially if you go with a few friends. I wouldn't want to go every week (with my apt losing abilities) but it is nice to do a few times a year as something different.
I must admit. I used to go to Greyhound racing with my friends sometimes on a Saturday night for a bit of fun. We always had a great night out. Even though usually it completely emptied my wallet.
But once I started to read up about the plight of the poor dogs used for racing I will never go again. I don't want to play any part in supporting this cruel sport. A great amount of research has been done in regards to Greyhound racing. Various cruelties have been identified. Not all breeders, trainers etc are cruel but there is still a big problem and a lack of legislation.
Many puppies that will not be likely to make it as racers are killed. In my eyes, if breeders bring a greyhound into the world then it is their responsibility to provide for it. These dogs should not be viewed as disposable. The breeders should have to arrange for someone to care for the dogs or at least pay a rescue organisation to find a home for them. However, the majority of Greyhounds, over three quarters of them, are bred in Ireland. This makes it impossible to legislate for their welfare. Many bitches are bred until they drop, producing hundreds of puppies in their lifetime.
The dogs that do make it into racing are often kept as cheaply as possible in very cramped living conditions. Many Greyhound trainers have 150 dogs or more, this is very common. They will spend the majority of the day in these cramped conditions with very little opportunity to play.
Many of the injuries that happen during a race will result in a dog being put down. They will often run in another race before injuries have healed fully, doing even more damage. As their training is so intense, micro-cracks appear in their bones which don't have time to heal prior to the next race causing stress fractures. Injuries are very common.
Dogs can travel for up to 6 hours in very cramped cages where they can't stand or turn around. I have seen this first hand at a greyhound race which was what originally prompted me to read up more about the subject.
When their racing career is up many of the retired dogs get repaid by being `disposed of'. This can be either being put to sleep, taken to a knackers yard. Some are sold for medical research as their heart size and pulse is similar to that of a humans. Some make it to a rescue centre for retired greyhounds but many don't and they are not always put down humanely. Many just disappear.
If you'd like to try and help with improving the regulation for Greyhound racing then please visit the link below. There is a public consultation being held by the government with a deadline for submissions on the 22nd July 2009. You can make a real contribution by visiting this link.
The RSCPA say `We need to get thousands of people to send a letter to the government asking them to introduce special legislation for racing greyhounds under the Animal Welfare Act. After that, the consultation period closes for good.'
In the UK, thousands of dogs enter racing every year. Many of them will only run a few races. Some of them will be rehomed, but as the Sunday Times reported this summer, many of the surplus dogs are killed if they are injured or if there is no rescue ready to take them.
My own dog retired because of an injury. She has a piece of metal embedded in her leg. She will always limp and has premature arthritis. She is one of the lucky ones.
Her father sired almost 5,000 pups, and he isn't even a famous sire or a particularly successful racing dog.
Greyhounds make brilliant, laid back, comical amusing pets, but the industry is producing far more dogs than can possibly be found loving homes.
You bet, they die. Please don't support greyhound racing.
Greyhound racing is an enjoyable night out. There can surely be no better enjoyment than to see these dogs doing what they were bred to do. I would like to review several aspects of this sport.
THE STADIA AND FACILITIES.
These vary in standard with Walthamstow in London being arguably the best in UK. If other tracks are similar, then you will find restaurants, well stocked bar, covered viewing area outdoors and of course, the ability to watch the racing indoors from the comfort of your restaurant table. Hospitality is a big part of greyhound racing, as it is with MOST sports these days. Evening meal special offers are available at pretty much ALL of the top tracks. For a set price you can get a racecard, reserved table and three course meal for around £13-£20 depending on the track.
Bookmakers are available at trackside and you can have a moderate flutter (£2) just for an interest. Then you can cheer your dog home!
There are greyhound tracks all around the country with some areas better served than others. Sadly, South Wales is particularly lacking in top class dog tracks. However stadia can be found as far afield as Glasgow,Newcastle,Pontefract,Sheffield,Nottingham,Manchester, Birmingham,Wimbledon,Romford,Sittingbourne,Reading,Swindon,Oxford,Poole, Hove and many more including the lesser standard Independent tracks dotted around the country.
These are smaller, privately owned stadia which are often criticised for the lack of facilities.Veterinary treatment is also a concern at these smaller tracks but it should be noted that most dogs at these tacks are family pets and return HOME after racing not to purpose built kennelling facility.Top class vet treatment is available at established training facilities often with state-of-the-art equipment available to care for these very valuable animals.
The Independent stadia tend to be "in need of a lick of paint" and are very basic/poor in standard.NO CANDLELIT RESTAURANT TABLES HERE!!
All tracks have grading times. These vary from track to track
but dogs are expected to run a trial race (often alone) to see if they can complete a given distance in a qualifying time.Dogs who miss the grade at one track can often qualify at another.
Distances for greyhound racing vary from 250m - 900m and these can be flat races around 2,4,6 or 8 bends, or hurdle races in which the dogs jump over thin "brush-like" hurdles. Handicap racing is also used where the dogs have individual starting traps that are placed at staggered postions according
to the dogs recent finishing times and the professional opinion of the handicapper.Independent tracks tend to measure their races in YARDS rather than METRES.
STARS OF THE PAST
Famous racing greyhounds through history include: Mick The Miller, Scurlogue Champ, Ballyregan Bob and the present day runner, (possibly the fastest of all time) WESTMEAD HAWK.
There is a growing opinion that all animals should be wrapped in cotton wool and that somehow allowing fast dogs to run fast
is cruel.They managed to ban FOX hunting because dogs chase and kill live animals (have you ever seen a fox rip a lamb apart? - it's not pretty either!!) but, in greyhound racing they chase stuffed teddy bears so it's hardly the same issue! These do-gooders I am sure would like to see cheetahs in Africa fed from plastic bowls rather than allow them to kill.
IT IS ACTUALLY CRUEL NOT TO LET AN ANIMAL DO WHAT NATURE INTENDED. IT IS A GRAVE DIS-SERVICE TO ANIMAL KIND IN GENERAL.
I have a greyhound called Clover. Although Clover sounds like a female name it is actually a Male dog!! Greyhounds are the dog used to race in Greyhound races and there very fast runners when they getting going. We adopted our Greyhound only minutes before it was to be put down! My Sister phoned me up in a right state and told me of a dog, which was to be put down at the place she works. We said we were going to adopt it as I don’t believe in killing a dog if its fit enough to live. When we got there we found out that it was going to be killed because the owner could not be bothered to look after it. We decided then and there to adopt the dog!! When we got our dog home it we had to make some changes. We had already got a Bowl and all the things a dog needs to be happy. My mum came round and decided to help me make it a beanbag for a bed. After about 2 hours of sewing we decided that it was complete but to our dismay the dog did not like. Greyhounds are very lazy dogs even when they are known for being fast runners. Clover can bearly be bothered to get up if the door bell goes. This is not just a problem with Clover but with all greyhounds. The only reason they normal get up is when visitors come or it is diner time!! All I can say is that I love Clover very much simply because he is such a mellow dog. We have only had him a few days and we can already take him off the lead for walks. I would definitely recommend Greyhounds as once they have gone past the age of racing the normally don’t get cared after and normally get put down. WE WILL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER!!
The mention of Greyhound Racing gets me quite excited. I’m not a race buff by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not hunched over a form book either. But it gets me excited all the same. The flirtation began innocuously enough. I had to attend a race meeting as part of a client’s night out with my husband’s company. As the clients were publicans, it was guaranteed to be a night of saucy jokes and toe-curling tales if nothing else. The venue was Walthamstow, not glamorous, just an honest to goodness, night at the dogs type racing track, with the added bonus of indoor seating, waitress served meals and a nice lady who came and took your bets from the table for you. You need never have moved again. Whilst crossing the car park to get into the stadium, a man in a brown rain Mac shoved a small envelope into my hand. I felt like I’d warped into a surreal existence as he tapped the side of his nose and winked. Being unfamiliar with the social etiquette one should display on these sorts of occasions, I simply said, “Cheers!” and walked off, stuffing the unopened envelope into my pocket as nonchalantly as I could. When I’d found a moment of peace and quiet, I opened it and removed a folded piece of paper that had faded printing on both sides. It appeared to be information on each dog that was in the race, the weights it ran at in previous meetings and it’s final positions. “Fair do’s,” I thought and decided to use this as some sort of bluffer’s guide to the meeting. After a better than average meal and with sides aching from comically blunt cockney humour, I settled back and referred to my list of races. I’d set a pathetically small limit of £2 per race, but I’d remembered my Grandad’s advice (an inveterate gambler on the horses) of not betting more than you’re prepared to lose, and using my ‘insider knowledge’ I won the first race. (N
ot me. Obviously. The Greyhound.) And the second. And the third. By the fourth, hubbie was starting to ask which dog I was going to back next. I was holding back with the information, as my bizarre habit of becoming stupidly superstitious crept over me. I won again and cracked under pressure on the next race, giving him the name of the dog. I lost. Cursing, I refused to give him any more information, and won again. If I’d have been given a mirror at that very point in the evening, I strongly doubt that I would have recognised the fevered face that would have shone back at me. I was hooked. THIS was the sport of Kings. Stuff all that hanging around on windswept racecourses, waiting to see the final burst of mud flying off the hoofs as the horses briefly thunder pass. This was fast, furious, and with no possibility of any dog having to be shot because it fell over it’s own legs, I could bay for the animal to run its heart out. The dogs were excited and yapping. Not an annoying yapping, at least not if it was coming from the winning dog that you’d just backed, but a really happy, “That was bloody fantastic,” sort of barking. Tongues lolling, grinning broadly, the dogs were enticed away from the flea-bitten bit of fur they stupidly think is a rabbit, and the excitement winds up again. I loved it. I loved being in the warm, having a laugh and winning money. The atmosphere was heavily charged with emotions both good and bad, but you couldn’t help but get off on the buzz in the place. Nothing fancy, no frills, just honest to goodness, night out at the dogs type of desperate betting. People were keen to know what I was using to win, so I flashed off my crumpled piece of knowledge. They looked amazed. “You’re using THAT? How much did you give the bloke?” “Nothing” came my wide-eyed reply. “You mean he wanted money for this? I just shoved it in my pocket an
d walked on.” The clients found this hugely amusing. By the final race, I’d become so cocky that I placed a bet predicting the first and second place dogs. I held my breath as the dogs hurtled out of the traps and belted round the track. Their coloured vests mere blurs. My eyes narrowed in on the winning line and my mind seemed to freeze-frame the moment that the dogs crossed the line together. But I’d seen my two predictions come home in the right order. I was up out of the chair screaming with joy. It raised more than a few smiles, not just because they’d called for a photo finish. I could feel my husband tugging vainly at my jacket, but I was insistent that I’d won. The lady had taken my slips off me with a bemused grin, but returned a few minutes later in a golden halo of light. That little beauty had won me £80 in one go. Beaming faces surrounded me as I celebrated like a loony, but hubbie’s face was carrying a frown of concern. He knew what I’d be breathlessly asking in a few moments. I didn’t disappoint him. “When are we coming again?” My eyes were shining. “This is how it starts, Sally,” he smiled. “It’s dangerous. Treat this as beginner’s luck, and walk away.” I hated him when I knew he was boringly right about things. I’ve managed to squeeze in two more visits, one less happy return to Walthamstow and an even unhappier visit to the bright and flashy arena at Brighton. I lost both times. Not heavily by any means (Cheers, Grandad), but I hate losing in anyway shape or form, and so any little knock back hurts. I’ll always think fondly about Greyhound Racing though. The dogs are sleek and impish in their nature and the atmosphere seems more intense than at racehorse meetings. I feel more at home alongside Joe Soap from the pub than rubbing shoulders with the well sh
od at Ascot. At least they wouldn’t bat an eyelid at my exuberant behaviour and joyous shouts of “Go on, my son!!!” If the bloke who gave me the envelope in the car park is reading this, I’m sorry mate; I didn’t know I was supposed to pay you for the information. Apparently it’s usually duff and people don’t touch it with a barge pole because of that, but I got lucky didn’t I? <wink> Here. Take this cyberfiver and have a drink on me… And for all you about-to-be punters out there, take it easy. I had a laugh, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it paid my way on our holiday. But it has only happened the once. Be lucky!
The first modern day greyhound race was way back in 1926. It was hosted at Belle Vue Stadium in Manchester which still holds meetings today. For all those who have never seen greyhound racing, it is very simple to follow. Six dogs chase a mechincal hare around an ovoid track and the first dog over the line wins. THE TRAPS Each dogs wears a different colour jacket depending on what trap he is in. Trap 1 wears red, trap 2 wears blue, trap 3 wear white, trap 4 wear black, trap 5 wears orange and trap 6 wears black and white stripes. The coloured jackets make it very easy to identify each dog as it is running around the track. The process to choose which dog comes out of which track is a very simple but important one. Dogs are either classed as railers (this means the run close to the rail), middlers (the just run down the middle), or wide runners (this means that as they run around the bends, they go to the outside of the track). Based on this fact there is a draw between the two railers for traps 1 and two and another for the wide runners for trap 5 and 6. This makes the race as safe as possible as well as being fair to all the dogs involved. THE DISTANCES There are four distances that dogs can run. The two main ones are 484 meters (this does vary from track to track). This are known as A races. The second is a slightly shorter distance of 442 meters, known as Q races. Some dogs can run for a longer distance with ease and these are known as "stayers". These dogs are entered for marathon races which cover a distance of 660 meters. These races are known as S races and are very exciting to watch. They cover six bends rather than four and that extra distance means that the start isnt so important. What is fantastic to watch about these races is that the dogs knows excatly when to stop pacing himself and run at full speed. The final distance is quite rare but it is a short sprint. These races dont come up that
often at meeting as it doesnt suit very many dogs. Greyhounds can also run hurdle races. These are run over all distances expect the sprint. Dogs that do hurdle races are often dogs that have "turned" on another during a race and the hurdles make it more interesting for them. GRADING Each track has a grading system that goes from 1-9 (with 1 being the best). Before a dog is allowed to race at a track, it has to have at least three trials to the racing manager knows which grade the dog is most suitable for. The dogs grade is reviewed after each race so that if he does a very good time, he will be moved up to the next grade. If a dog isnt doing very well, and his times have gone right down, then he will be put down a grade. This system means that each dog should be up against five other dogs that are capable of silimar times. The best dogs in the country arent called graders but open racers. This means, unlike the graders, they can race at any track in the country. These dogs are the best of the best and you can always guarentee a good race with opens. This is reflected with the prize money. The average 1st prize for a graded race is £100, the winner of the Greyhound Derby walked away with a £50,000 cheque. Enough said I think!! THE NRGC The National Greyhound Racing Club looks after all the licensed tracks. It was set up 1928 and its aim was to make sure fair racing was in play. It makes sure that none of the dogs can be tampered with in anyway prior to a race. Each dog is weighed before each race and a major increase or descrease will mean the traing facing the stewards to explain why. The most important thing that the NRGC do is to stop the use of drugs. A urine sample is taken from all the dogs prior to their race. If a dog runs a race that is alot faster than its previous form, another urine sample is then taken. If answers still havent been found then the trainer is forced infront of the stewards
to explain. Another huge part that the NRGC play is to register all racing greyhounds. Owners as well as trainers are monitered and anyone deemed unfit will be banned from owning or training greyhounds in the future. Not all tracks are controlled by the NRGC. These tracks are called falpping tracks and most arent very nice places. They have hardly any controls and I dread to think what happens inside these tracks. I would avoid these tracks and stick to the licensed ones where the rules have to be followed and obeyed. GOING RACING Although every track is different you will pay about £5 on average. This will include your race card that gives you all the races as well as the history of all the dogs racing. This helps to give a picture of what each dog is capable of and so, in theory, pick the winner. You dont have to bet but it does add to the fun if you. Each stadium will have a tote and some independant bookies. The minimium straightbet on the tote (again it varies) is 50p. If you would rather bet in notes, then bet with the bookies as you will get better odds. Each staduim has an outside area that is brilliant for the atmosphere. You can always pick out the owners shouting and screaming their dogs home. The is an inside area with a bar and usually some sort of food area for things like burgers and chips. Some of the larger stadiums also have large restuarants which makes a brilliant night out. Most stadiums have racing three or four times a week in the evening. Some also have afternoon racing known as BAGS. This stands for Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service and these are the races that are shown at the bookies in the highstreet. It is worth contacting your local stadium as many offer special deals to try and draw in more system. This may include a drink, a burger and a £1 tote bet all included in your admission fee. I hope that I have laid to rest some of the myths of greyhound racing. Its not full
of men in camel coats smoking cigars and you will find a lot of families with children going there. Greyhounds love to race and are very well cared for. There are strigent rules that have to be followed so all the dodgey dealing that are shown in TV shows (such as dogs being swapped) are impossible in real life. Just remember that you cant force an animal to run if it doesnt want to and once a greyhounds has had enough, it will certainly let it be known. Greyhound racing isnt just a summer sport but runs all year long (weather permitting of course!) So support your local track and go and have some fun!!
To many people Greyhound Racing tends to conjure up the image of a dodgy looking old blokes wearing flat caps and sly rich looking blokes in suits doing many a dodgy dealing... 'tis not true... ok, it's partly true, but they aren't the only characters you will find at your local dog track. This opinion is aimed to give you a brief insight into experiencing a night out at the dogs and inform you of how enjoyable it can be. There are many dog tracks scattered around the UK, including Nottingham, Peterborough, Walthamstow, Sheffield, Great Yarmouth (and many more). Generally admission price is about £4.00, but this varies depending on the track you visit and sometimes what night you go on. A typical example of a race night includes 12 - 14 races, normally with 6 dogs running per race. On admission you are given a race card (more like a booklet) with all the runners and races in as well as the form (information about each dog). In theory this should give you a guide to help you pick a winner... At all of the tracks I have visited there are both tote bookmakers and independent bookies ready and willing to take your hard earned cash if you are interested in placing a bet, however, there is no obligation to bet on each race, and you can have just as much fun without gambling (you must be over 18 to gamble in England). Before each race the dogs are paraded, wearing their numbered jackets. This is helpful if you'd like to see which dog you have backed, or to help you choose which dog to back. Each numbered jacket is a different colour to help you identify the dog as it runs its race. Colours are the same across the country, so wherever you go you will always know that if you have backed the dog running from trap 1 it will be wearing a red jacket etc. Just before the starting time of the race the dogs are taken to the traps ready for their race. You'll then normally hear a tannoy announcement along the lines of 'The
hare is on the move!' - this is obviously when the hare starts to move around the outside of the track. Once the hare reaches the traps, the trap doors are opened and the dogs rush out chasing the hare / running around the track. The winner, of course, is the first greyhound past the winning post. A night at the dogs doesn't have to be spent outside watching every race... most tracks have bars, restaurants, corporate entertainment facilities, and private boxes. These facilities make it enjoyable for friends, couples, families or huge parties. The following paragraph is taken from the official British Greyhound Racing Board website (www.thedogs.co.uk), which I think helps sum up a night at the dogs: "The hard-bitten gamblers are still there, many of them colourful characters, but move away from the arm waving, odds-calling bookmakers track-side and stadiums are full of couples and parties simply enjoying a unique night out." For more information on greyhound racing take a look at thedogs.co.uk as it can give you much more detailed and specific information about greyhound racing that won't fit into this opinion... Thanks for reading, Angeelu :o)
As an owner of two retired ex-racing greyhounds, I have seen the damage it does to them. At first, the dogs used to run after anything with a bit of fur - a rabbit, cotton wool and clothes! Whenever they hear a loud BANG their natural instinct is to run - this was awkward at first when we used to take them out for short walks. A firework went off - they took themselves home. One of our dogs, Squire, has a permanently injured foot from racing. Originally he was worth £8000 until he got injured and was going to be put to sleep without us rescuing him when we did. He has already cost the insurance company £1000s just trying to put his foot right - we were told it's not worth spending all this money for something which is now part of his character! Although greyhounds have plenty of myths that put people off having them, we chose ours over hundreds of different breeds! Most people think they need long walks and eat loads! We take ours for a 15 - 30 minute walk twice a day, and feed them half a large tin of dog food each - and it does them! Next time you think about going to the dogs - think again! Think of the damage that YOU are creating! If everybody stopped going the sport would be gone! That's not what I expect from this message, but I certainly don't think YOU should encourage it! I mean, you're such a nice person! Thanks for listening!