I have been a greyhound racing fan for decades. Back in those three day week times with power shut down in the evening, my telephone talk show on BBC Radio London enjoyed much success. Amongst the listeners were a couple of greyhound fans who let me adopt one of their dogs, which they called Robbie Vincent.
Here I was an owner at Wimbledon with a top trainer and a dog that could run. A perfect way to give someone the greyhound racing bug and I have owned many dogs since.
Decades on greyhound racing is trying to claw its way out of a massive pit of gloom and doom. Owners now pay to race their dogs, as prize money in general is terrible, and trainers find the financial going mighty tough. Tracks have closed like Reading, Slough, and Oxford while a true London postcode belongs to just one track Wimbledon. The facilities for visitors to Wimbledon are no advert for racing.
However, cheer up. Towcester, the first new track for ages, is up, running, and might well, with its good facilities give other tracks a good kick up the backside. New competitions have been launched to support lower class dogs who day in and day out provide betting shop fodder for gamblers. Bookmakers have not given up their interest in backing the sport so not all is lost.
All will be lost if even more effort is not put into attracting not just drunken office workers on a Friday night piss up to the tracks but new young blood who want to be owners and take a serious but fun interest in things like form, breeding and so on. They will be the backbone of the sport for years to come.
My least favourite racing moments have been the piss up brigade applauding and cheering a dog that has been knocked over in a race. Often that dog could have been seriously injured and sometimes even put down.
A NEW greyhound track and a new horseracing track (Chelmsford City) to kick off the year. It cannot all be gloom and doom.
If going greyhound racing sounds a bit cold to you sit in your armchair at home and sample some on Racing Post Greyhound TV. Channel 212 on the Sky platform on Freesat and Freeview too. Some of the presenters can be less than exciting but they do not mean it.
In issue two, a love story from inside one of the country’s leading kennels.