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Greyhound Racing in UKIt‟s good to be back with this first article of 2011 and I decided that it would beappropriate to cover greyhound racing in general.2010 in my opinion was a fantastic year that saw some memorable races andoutstanding performances from greyhounds and trainers alike, and I anticipate that2011 will follow in the same vein. I have included some general information that willenable you to cross reference form from track venues in England, Ireland, America, andAustralia and also include some general information on greyhound racing speeds andtypes of race.Grade of Race?In the U.K. an „Open Race‟ (greyhound raceform statistic OR) represents the higheststandard of racing grades. In Ireland all „Opens‟ are preceded by a prefix letterdependent on the distance of race. ie: A = Middle-Distance, S = Sprint and D = LongDistance. In America all top class contests are known as RSA‟s or SA‟s (RacingSecretaries A Class) seen at special meetings like the „Night of the Stars‟. In Australia thevery best competitions are classified as „Group Races‟ and are generally referred to asFFA‟s (Free for All‟s).
UK Open Racing – Major Greyhound Racing Events and Race Venues:Out of all the category one Greyhound Classics held annually, the English GreyhoundDerby (Wimbledon) first staged at White City Stadium, London in 1927 – won 29/05/10by Bandicoot Tipoki trained by Charlie Lister (unatt) – and the Irish Greyhound Derby(Shelbourne Park, Dublin) first run in 1934 – won 11/09/10 by Tyrur McGuigan trainedin Galway by PJ and Conor Fahy – are respectfully considered the two most importantraces that all Irish and UK trainers and owners want to win.Other national “derbies” run in the British Isles include the Scottish Derby (Shawfield) –won 17/04/10 by Nambisco trained by Carly Philpott (Unatt) – first held at Carntyne,Glasgow in 1928 and the previously held Welsh Derby (Swansea) first run in 1928 at theold White City, Cardiff.Famous British greyhound races include the English St Leger originally run in 1928 atthe old Wembley Stadium – won 26/10/10 by Droopys Bradley trained by Paul Donavanand English Oaks (Wimbledon), Irish St Leger (Limerick), Irish Cesarewitch(Mullingar), Irish Guineas, Masters – won 13/11/10 by Tyrur Enda (Conor Fahy) andKrug Ninety Five (Fraser Black) who both dead heated for 1st place – (Waterford). Thisyear‟s Gold Collar sadly due to lack of race sponsorship will not be staged. Laurels – won05/10/10 by Elwick Chris trained in Carlisle by Michael Walsh attatched to Newcastle,Scurry Gold Cup (Belle Vue).Blue Riband and Prestige (Hall Green), Henlow Derby – won 21/10/10 by WestmeadGhuru trained by Kelly Findlay (Henlow). Champion Stakes – won 08/09/10 by RavingBlack trained at Hove by Seamus Cahill – Essex Vase, Golden Sprint (Romford), Eclipse,National Sprint (Nottingham), Pall Mall – won 22/06/10 by Ballymac Ace trained atMonmore by Chris Allsopp. Cesarewitch – won 19/08/10 by Raving Black (Oxford),Irish Oaks, Irish Champion Stakes – won 24/07/10 by Makeshift trained in Ireland byDolores Ruth.600 – won 15/05/10 by Shaneboy Lee trained by P Kiely – Tote Gold Cup and EasterCup (Shelbourne Park), Irish Laurels – won 16/10/10 by Tyrur Enda trained and ownedby the Fahy family – (Cork), Irish Sprint Cup – won 15/08/10 by Sheepwalk Mactrained by Michael Taggart (NI) from Banbridge County Down – (Dundalk), Irish
National Sprint, Cox Cup (Newbridge), Tipperary Cup (Thurles), Arc (Swindon), GoldenJacket, (Crayford), All England Cup – won 11/11/10 by Mill Pinpoint trained by KellyMacari – (Newcastle), Sussex Cup – won 27/07/10 by Head Iton Ellis trained nearSheffield by Steve Race (Unatt) – and Regency won 04/05/10 by He Went Whooshlocally trained by Claude Gardiner (Hove).Classic – won 15/07/10 by Target Classic trained at Pelaw Grange by Craig Dawson.Grand Prix – won 15/07/10 by England Expects trained at Newcastle by Jimmy Wright(Sunderland). East Anglian Derby – won 16/09/10 by Fear Zafonic trained by CharlieLister (Unatt) – (Yarmouth) etc.Other famous UK races include the Cock o‟ the North (Belle Vue), Boxing Day Marathon(Oxford), Dorando Marathon – won in 2010 by Taylors Riviera trained by Ted Soppitbased in Durham – run on derby night at Wimbledon Stadium, London. The T.V.Trophy was held 15/06/10 at Kinsley greyhound track in West Yorkshire and was wonfor the second year in succession by Midway Skipper trained by octogenarian HenryChalkley (Henlow).International greyhound events include the Anglo-Irish International Dundalk – won12/07/10 by Definate Opinion trained by Pat Guilfoyle in Tipperary. Festival of Racing(Lifford), Galway Festival (Galway) and occasional American-Irish Challenges. The newDublin festival week of racing took place this year at Harolds Cross and Shelbourne Parkand included 1st round heats of the Irish Derby.There are also “special meetings” like the Trainers Championship (TC) held 23/03/10 atDoncaster stadium and was won by Mark Wallis (Harlow). Other types of „InvitationalRaces‟ (IR‟s) include The Select Stakes – won 26/10/10 by Jordansollutions trained byCharlie lister (Nottingham). Anglo-Irish Invitation (Wimbledon), Dransfield Invitation(Sheffield) and the odd Showdown – Match Racing (M).Minor Open EventsImportant category two and three UK Open Class Races (OR‟s) include:Northern Flat, Gorton Cup (Belle Vue), Midland Flat (Hall Green), Kent Derby, SilverSalver (Sittingbourne), Guy‟s and Dolls, Kent St Ledger (Crayford), St Mungo Cup
(Shawfield), Corn Cuchulainn (Harolds Cross) – won 16/07/10 by Kiltrea Kev trained atWexford by John Doyle. Birmingham Cup (Perry Barr), Olympic, Brighton Belle (Hove),Coronation Cup (Romford), Golden Jubilee 509, Pride of the West (Swindon), TrafalgarCup, Oxfordshire Gold Cup (Oxford), National Oaks (Nottingham), Regal Gold Cup(Sunderland), Northumberland Plate (Brough Park), Summer Derby, WarwickshireOaks (Coventry), Peterborough Derby, Fengate Collar (Peterborough), Golden Crest,Super Paws (Poole), Steel City Cup, Yorkshire Oaks (Sheffield), Yorkshire St Ledger –won 16/11/10 by Carbarns Tom trained by Charlie Lister – (Doncaster), Midland GoldCup (Monmore Green) and many other „one offs‟ and minor cup and trophy events.There are „Open Races‟ for both Puppies and Veterans and are represented in theformlines by a standard race prefix: (P) = Puppy and (V) = Veteran. In Ireland puppiesbegin their careers in Novice grade (N1-N3) although competitions are sometimes heldfor dogs previously unraced!UK Puppy events include: The English Puppy Derby – won 03/08/10 by RayvinGiovaani trained by Seamus Cahill – English Puppy Oaks and Juvenile (Wimbledon),Irish Puppy Derby – won 08/10/10 by Melodys Royal trained by Pa Fitz – (HaroldsCross), Irish Puppy Oaks, National Puppy Stakes (Shelbourne Park), Irish ProduceStakes, Munster Puppy Cup (Clonmel), Juvenile Classic (Tralee), Puppy Derby(Newbridge) Puppy Cup (Romford), Puppy Classic, Produce Stakes (Nottingham),Westmead Puppy Derby (Henlow), 64th Two-Year-Old Produce Stakes (Swindon),Puppy Derby and Cesarewitch (Peterborough), Northern Puppy Derby (Sunderland),Midland Puppy Derby (Monmore), Manchester Puppy Cup – won 23/10/10 by BornaCoin trained by Jimmy Wright (Belle Vue), Breeders Forum Produce Stakes andGymcrack Puppy Championship (Hall Green) etc. Veteran races include the famousSenior‟s Derby (Peterborough).All „Open Class Competitions‟ attract the very best quality of greyhounds and overallrepresent the top UK standard of dog racing class.Hurdle RacingOther standard prefixes that precede the race grading and indicate to the type of raceinclude:- (H) = Hurdle and (CH) = Chase – two extra hurdles are added. Trainers may
sometimes give a dog a „hurdle handslip‟ – the greyhound isn‟t started from the trapsbut is released or „hand slipped‟ usually along the straights – in order to slowlyintroduce them to jumping hurdles. Please note: that any runner previously having ahurdle trial or handslip, and was then switched back to race on the flat, is always a goodsign to look for, as the hurdles tend to concentrate a dog‟s mind on its racing andtherefore sharpens them up!The first race over hurdles took place at Belle Vue (Manchester) at it‟s opening meetingheld on 24th July 1926 and was won by Melksham Autocrat.Famous UK hurdle races include the English Grand National (Wimbledon) – won29/06/10 by Plane Daddy trained by Gemma Davidson at Crayford – originally run in1927 at the White City Stadium (London) – Springbox, Champion Hurdle – won29/05/10 by Men of Hope trained by Jason Foster (Wimbledon), Irish Grand National –won 02/11/10 by Junior Mac trained in England by Paul Donovan (Harold‟s Cross),Christmas Hurdle (Oxford) etc.Greyhound Racing SpeedsThe very best of these „canine racing machines‟ are capable of clocking greyhoundspeeds close to 40 mph / 65 km/ph! Although, the very fastest speeds may only beachievable on first class greyhound circuits (galloping tracks) with big trackcircumferences, long racing straights and wide sweeping cambered bends!The fastest time recorded over a distance of 515 metres or 563 yards is 28.88 seconds byAustralian “wonder dog” Brett Lee trained by Darren McDonald from Peacedale(Victoria) in the final of the Adelaide Cup, a Group 1 race held at Angle Park (25/01/01),South Australia, (track circumference 457 metres). This represents an average racingspeed around the track of 39.87 miles per hour!Interestingly, the fastest UK racetime for 515 metres is 29.20 seconds set by the“brilliant” Barnfield On Air trained by Samuel Poots (Unattached) in the final of the2007 Sussex Cup Final, a category one race run at Brighton and Hove greyhoundstadium (track circumference 455 metres) and represents an average cruising speed of39.44mph!
Alternatively, the quickest time in the UK achieved over a distance of 480 metres or 525yards is 27.60 seconds set by Farley Blitz trained by Barrie Draper (Sheffield) recorded(13/02/10) in the „Peggy Puppies‟ at Monmore Green (track circumference 419 metres)and represents an average speed of 38.91 mph.The Irish national record for 525 yards or 480 metres was recently recorded by LeeveiwJet trained by Graham Holland when setting new figures of 27.88 secs – equilavent toan average speed of 38.52 mph – when winning the final of the Tennants Gold Cup run23/10/10 at Drumbo Park (Belfast). The previous record was held by Catunda Harrytrained by Owen McKenna, who became the first greyhound to dip under 28 seconds onan Irish track, when recording 27.99 seconds in a heat of the Ballygodoon stud PuppyStakes run at Limerick 17/06/07.The quickest ever time recorded in the Irish Greyhound Derby, held at Shelbourne Park(Dublin – track circumference 425 yards) over 550 yards = 503 metres was achieved by2009 Irish derby champion College Causeway trained by Pat Buckley (Ire).When recording the sensational time of 29.21 seconds in the 1st round – equivalent toan average racing speed of 38.51mph. Top greyhound acceleration speeds along thestraights close to 45 miles per hour / 72 km/h have reportedly also been achieved!Graded RacingThe vast majority of races held at greyhound tracks worldwide are known as „GradedRaces‟ (GR) and for the benefit of the „Predictor‟ have been divided into 3 middle-distance race grade categories:-U.K. – Top Grade – (A1 – A3) equivalent to American grades (A, AA, B) and Australiangrades (1, 2). Many of these “top grade dogs” will also compete in major events and arecapable of averaging speeds between 38-39 mph.U.K. – Middle Grade – (A4 – A6) equivalent to American grades (C, D) and Australiangrades (3, 3/4, 4). Many of these so called average-graded dogs regularly run at some ofthe very best greyhound tracks and maybe be the equal of „A1′ graded dogs running atperhaps lesser not so good tracks. These racing hounds average speeds around a trackbetween 37-38 mph.
U.K. – Low Grade – (A7 – A11) equivalent to American grades (E, F, and Maidens) andAustralian grades (4/5, 5 and Maidens). Most dogs begin or finish their racing careers inthese the lowest grades. Most runners competing in low grade races generally recordspeeds between 35-37 mph.When fully fit „graded runners‟ generally run more frequently then „open racers‟ andusually compete in a race at least once a week, although twice and sometimes threetimes a week is not uncommon. However, any dogs thought „over raced‟ will normallysee a decline in racing form and may need a rest to freshen them up!Occasionally other types of racing grades take place during a meeting, these gradestatistics are once again represented in the formlines by a standard greyhound racingprefix, eg: (KC) = Kennel Championships, (KS) = Kennel Sweepstakes, (IT) = IntertrackRacing, (Hcp) = Handicap Racing and the very occasional (QS) = Quickstakes – 2 or 3semi-finals take place with the final being held at the same meeting.Knowing the grade of a greyhound race is extremely important, as it‟s an approximationto the expected level of racing performance and implies to the overall race standard. Iconsider a greyhound‟s grade should reflect past performances and be relative topreviously recorded race times.All „greyhound patrons‟ when studying graded race form, will constantly be askingthemselves, the same age old question.Whether to back (or include in combinations) a good dog „lowered in class‟ runningbadly or a not so good dog „raised in class‟ running well?“If only I had a crystal ball” I hear you say!! The best advice I can give is if a dog hasrecent form that shows it has the ability to win and it has performed to that requiredstandard under similar conditions to that which it will experience in this race thenchances are that it will do so again.Thank you for taking the time to read my article this month and I hope that you havefound it interesting.