Greyhound racing was once one of the most popular pastimes in the United Kingdom — second only to football. In fact, in the years following the Second World War, tens of thousands of punters flocked to stadia up and down the country every week in a bid to get their fix of the action and enjoy the thrills of a small wager in the greyhound betting.
Nowadays though, the industry is a fraction of the size it was in the second half of the 1900s. There are just 20 licensed tracks in the UK and attendances are down massively since its peak years. Unfortunately, that appears to be a common theme around the globe — as the industry is in serious decline, leaving greyhound racing’s future in doubt.
It’s a sad state of affairs for a once so popular sport, but it still has a small, yet dedicated support and races like the prestigious Greyhound Derby are still a staple in the sporting calendar. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the places greyhound racing still operates at a high level in this day and age.
There might not be as many tracks in the UK as there once was, especially in London — where there were some 33 greyhound racing destinations, more than the entirety of the country today. But the sport is still alive and kicking via its 20 stadia and wealth of major contests, mainly situated in its new spiritual home of the Midlands — like the Derby, the Oaks, the Golden Jacket and the Laurels.
Who knows how much longer it can keep going on like this though? Attendances are rarely more than the hundreds on average, while the number of people looking for tips on the greyhounds today is also on the decline.
Just across the other side of the Irish Sea, greyhound racing also took off in Ireland following World War II — with the working class really taking to the sport as they looked to get back to normality. But just like their UK counterpart, greyhound racing in the Emerald Isle has fallen off and interest in the dogs is on the decline.
Greyhound Racing Ireland (GRI) do still operate 14 licensed stadiums, however, with Shelbourne Park in Dublin the main gravitational pull of the sport. Opened in the docklands area of the Irish capital in 1927, the venue hosts the majority of Ireland’s major races today — including the Irish Greyhound Derby, the Oaks, St Leger, Easter Cup and Shelbourne Cup.
While greyhound racing has been banned in some parts of the country in recent years, most notably in the Australian Capital Territory — which houses the capital Canberra — it continues to thrive in other areas. In fact, Australia boasts one of the largest commercial greyhound racing industries in the world.
The Melbourne Cup at Sandown Park was the richest greyhound race in the world with a prize purse of $435,000, but the Million Dollar Chase at Wentworth Park has blown that figure out of the water. The Australian Cup ($300,000) and the Golden Easter Egg, worth a quarter of a million, are just a couple of the other big-money prizes of offer.
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