Like horse racing, greyhound racing is another popular pastime in English-speaking countries. If you’ve never been to a dog track before, you may not know how it all works.
This sport has its origins in hare coursing – a form of hunting involving greyhounds. Artificial lures were in place as early as 1876 on a straight course, but it wasn’t for another 50 years until a mechanised, artificial hare running on an electrified rail around an oval circuit was used.
The first modern greyhound race in Britain took place in 1926 at Belle Vue Stadium in Manchester. Although popular in the interwar period and in the aftermath of the Second World War, its popularity has dwindled since.
Each greyhound race in the UK and Ireland has six dogs in it. There used to be some events with eight dogs, and there still are in other countries. British races are regulated by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain.
The trap (a starting gate similar to the stalls used in Flat horse races) that a greyhound is drawn in determines what colour jersey the animal wears, with this colour scheme coming as standard across all British and Irish greyhound races.
Like horses, greyhounds race over a variety of distances, on the Flat or over obstacles, and in handicaps. Betting on all of these is available on-course, but it’s always well worthwhile looking up greyhound tips from expert tipping services like myracing. These pros study all of the form, so it’s always good to get a second opinion.
The on-course betting available at greyhound tracks is pari-mutuel and similar to the Tote in horse racing. If you’re unfamiliar with this, the concept was put into practice by Winston Churchill, who implemented a regulated pool of money where a percentage of revenue from bets taken went back into the sport.
Pool betting has its pros and cons. It requires a large participation to pay out at the same price as regular fixed-odds bookmakers, so you may often find the starting price that a dog is returned at on-course is smaller than if you placed your bet online beforehand.
You can bet on greyhounds just to win or place (finish first or second) or bet each-way like in horse racing. Straight and reverse forecasts, where you pick two dogs to finish first and second in a specified or unspecified order, are also available. Straight or all-ways trios, which work like a straight or reverse tricast in horse racing where you make three selections for first, second, and third in a certain or any order, can also be placed.
As with any sport, there is no substitute for studying recent events and what they mean for the greyhound races you will be watching if you’re having a night out at the track (most meetings are held in the evening).
The biggest race is the Greyhound Derby. A number of qualifying races take place before finals in England, Scotland, and the Republic of Ireland, which are held at Towcester, Shawfield, and Shelbourne Park, respectively.