Golden Jacket Whippet Racing at Dawdon


A Layman's Guide

Around 150 whippets took part in the two day Club and Open events at Dawdon, Seaham over the weekend of 29/30th June 1996. They arrived at the Green Drive Grounds from Doncaster, Preston, Rotherham, Nottingham, Derby, Livingstone in Scotland and from all points of the compass. They came in cars and caravans. Men, women and children of all ages. All of them with one thing in common - their love of whippets and whippet racing.
For those of you who are new to whippet racing we will try to explain some of the action in laymans language.

Here goes....

In accordance with National Whippet Racing Federation (NWRF) rules:

Each whippet was assigned to a racing category according to age, weight and sex.
Once this process had been completed the racing began under the control of officials appointed by the NWRF National Whippet Racing Federation.
Race officials Keith Fowler and Dave Thompson. The Dawdon event was officiated by Keith Fowler (pictured right), Secretary, and David Thompson (pictured left), Registrar of the Federation.
They were ably assisted by local officials Albert Johnston (Trap Control), Jim Kennedy (Lure Control) and Kevin McCrea of Winlaton (Half-way Judge).

Into the traps...

Each trap was set up at the start line to allow for the handicap which had been assigned to the particular whippet using it.
Owners placed their dogs in the traps. The Trap Controller checked that the trap grid was properly closed. At this stage of the race, there was a lot tension about. Owners spoke of palpatations and severe attacks of butterflies in the stomach.
Whippets racing at Dawdon.

They're off...

As the owners left the trap area to walk the full 165 yards of the straight course they shouted and whistled to encourage the waiting whippets which howled in anticipation of the chase. As they reached the end of the track an official flag was raised to signal that the Lure Controller was ready. The Trap Controller signalled back to indicate that the traps were ready. The Lure was set in motion. As it streaked past the traps they "cracked" open and the straining whippets were released. They howled and barked in pursuit of their "prey" at speeds of up to 35 miles an hour. The air was suddenly filled with the hoarse cheers of the hundreds of enthusiasts who lined the full length of the track.

Whippets crashing into the sandpit at the end of a race.

Into the sandpit....
Within seconds the leading whippet steamed across the winning line. Suddenly, the lure was stopped by the Controller,right in the middle of the specially prepared sandpit. The lead dog braked and twisted wildly in an attempt to continue the chase. The following whippets arrived almost as one, braking into the sand and throwing up a huge cloud of dust. The sandpit ensured that injuries were avoided. Not all courses have a sandpit and the possibility of injury due to braking on hard ground is a major concern to all the owners. The race was over. The owners lifted their small affectionate pets away from the lure. The Lure Lad picked up the lure and began his walk back to the start.

When the meeting was finally over, there had been no betting. There were no dog droppings left behind when they left. That is the nature of these responsible whippet enthusiasts who will be travelling afar again next weekend in pursuit of their first love.

Your comments, enquiries & suggestions are welcome.

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