The debate on attendance v tv watching continues to rage over the columns of the Rust and I thought I might add my ha’pporth in a new dimension, namely ownership. I suggested to the editor that the Rust might own a sporting animal as funds don’t run to a football club. He thought ownership a great idea but paying for that less so. So I approached Uncle Bob Tickler. By chance his Godson Jamie was staying with him so he supported the venture on the basis that the animal was named after Jamie. He advised that a horse was extremely expensive to train even in a syndicate and that a greyhound would be cheaper and more fun.
I did some more investigation and came across a trainer Seamus Cahill who operated locally in Biggin Hill Kent. We all set off to visit him last Sunday. The kennels were virtually impossible to find off a road, down a track and no signage. Confusion arose as in the same road was the Police Doghandling Centre where we directed more than once in asking for kennels. Seamus proved a loquacious and jolly Irishman with a cheerful breezy wife Theresa. Various dogs of different calibre age and price were produced for inspection but a problem arose as Jamie was clearly frightened of any dog bigger than a Chihuahua. I was impressed by Seamus not making a hard sell but urging us to to understand the greyhound world better, visit a few dog tracks, speak to other owners. The great logistical advantage of a dog over a racehorse is that it is aligned to a local track. If your horse is running you get 5 days’ notice and it might be in Thirsk in Scotland. We liked the look of one dog called Boomer and two brothers affectionately known as Ronnie and Reggie but Bob wanted to do some more research as recommended by Seamus. The cost runs from £1000-£2500 for an A4 grade dog. An A1 dog which you would be looking to race at the elite Greyhound Derby goes for at least £30,000. The sport does not carry the best of reputations, a trainer was arrested in Northern Ireland for giving his dogs cocaine and dark stories abound of mustard being tucked up by the dog’s back passage but Seamus seemed a straight open character. We were interested at the lower A4 level. You receive some money for fielding a dog, around £30 which offsets the cost of training. Nancy Bright Thompson was concerned about their welfare but the dogs seemed to be in spacious kennels, well fed and exercised and homes exist for retired greyhounds.
Last night I watched on SKY an event for trainers held at Sittingbourne in which they field a dog in every race. Seamus was there again but did not win the championship. The event was not well attended, this seemed to be one sport where the stay-at-home couch potatoes outnumbered the spectator present but the sheer speed of the greyhound and that they were unaided by any jockey did make for exciting sport. Bob said he used to go with some pals to Wimbledon on a Friday night. You had a decent meal with a race every 15 minutes and it was always fun. We might all taken the plunge and acquire a dog. Watch this track.