Greyhound racing in Britain celebrated its fiftieth anniversary on Monday (26 July). However, the bowler-hatted?
(MUTE & BLACK & WHITE)
GV PAN Belle Vue race track
SV Dog handlers loading dogs into starting traps and start of race (2 shots)
GV Dog handlers catching greyhounds after race
SV Dogs paraded before race
SV Tic-tac men and bookmakers in ring
SV Start of race and race in progress (2 shots)
GV PAN Large crowd
GV Chasing hare
(COLOUR & SOUND BEGIN)
SV Bookmakers taking bets and tic-tac men (4 shots)
SV INT People betting on tote (2 shots)
SV Dog being led out for race
GV Attendants moving starting traps onto track
CU Hare being uncovered and dogs into starting trap (3 shots)
CU Electric tote board
CU Start of race and race in progress (3 shots)
CU Photo finish
SPORT: GREYHOUND RACING
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Greyhound racing in Britain celebrated its fiftieth anniversary on Monday (26 July). However, the bowler-hatted brigade of ex-Army officers who introduced the sport in the United Kingdom would barely recognise it now.
SYNOPSIS: Big money has turned the sport into big business. A great difference to when a dog called Mistley won Britain's first greyhound race at the Belle Vue track, Manchester, in 1926.
Mistley's great effort brought his owner GBP 20 sterling in prize money.
It didn't take long for the greyhound craze to get to London. The White City Stadium was one of the first tracks in use and it has been the home of London's dog racing ever since. Large crowds have been a standard feature of greyhound racing's 50 years history. It's rated the second biggest spectator sport in the U.K.--with only football attracting bigger crowds.
Bookmakers and tic-tac men (people who relay the betting odds from section to section throughout the racetrack) still play a major role in greyhound racing. The government operated tote also has a large cash turnover at each meeting. But now greyhound racing is really a sport that everyone can afford to be involved in. The cost of buying, training and feeding a greyhound is far less than the cost of keeping a racehorse. The racing itself has become far more sophisticated than it was in 1926.
Prize money now ranges from 100 pounds sterling (177 US dollars) for the provincial races to 15,000 pounds sterling (26,550 US dollars) for a race like this -- the Spillers Greyhound Derby. Many business companies are now sponsoring the sport, continually boosting stake money at Britain's 100 registered greyhound tracks. Breeding has also become big business. For a dog to win a prestigious race like the derby means large stud fees for his owner, as well as the winner's purse.
And with large amounts of money involved no chances are taken. All courses are equipped with photo-finish cameras and all races are strictly policed by the official stewards. In Britain at least, greyhound racing seems set on a course of continued expansion and prosperity. It's no longer just "going to the dogs."