Whippet racing, it’s what I do on a Sunday.
It’s a Sunday morning. Having driven for miles we turn into the gate leading to the field, I jump out to open it. About this time is when Alan asks me where I want him to park. I’m not good at last min decisions so we have a little discussion about it. <wry grin>
Parked in the field are an assortment of cars, vans, caravans and motor homes. There are also people, some setting up awnings and gazebo’s others standing around having a chat with friends and yet more walking their whippets to stretch their legs and empty. The organisers are scurrying around, they are setting up the weighing point and putting the final touches to the track and racing equipment and just generally well panicking slightly.
We park up and start to get ourselves organised for the day. The dogs are glad to be out of the van and to have a look around. Time also for a bit of catching up with friends and to sort out who is helping whom and in what races. Then weighing in starts.
We queue with the rest and once the dogs are weighed in we walk the track with them. We are checking the ground to see if we need to protect the dogs stopper pads with vetwrap (strapping) and the general state of the track. As we walk we look at our dogs draw and see what dogs they are racing with and what trap they will run out of and maybe have a good moan about our luck, well lack of it. <grin> The dogs meanwhile are having a sniff around and chilling. We arrive back at the van and it’s the calm before the storm. Now is the time to grab a coffee or tea and bacon butti from the van. Now is the time to rub the dogs down, stretch them out. The dogs racing jackets are piled up ready to put on, the muzzles and catching leads are left hanging up in the right place. After that we sit and wait.
Then the racing weights of the dogs are being called out and we fill in our program accordingly and the next thing the racing has started. We have heavyweight dogs so we get to cheer on our friends smaller dogs, we also get to help catch or trap them and we sometimes get a chance to take some photos of them racing. Oh and of course we keep our racing program filled in correctly. <wry grin>
The racing is fast and furious. No sooner has one race ended than the next is ready to start. The only delay is the time that it takes for the lure to be ‘biked’ from the finish to the start then the flag goes up, the lure moves off down the track and the traps open and the dogs explode out of the traps. (Yep even little 16lbs can explode from traps <grin>). The time comes round fast to the heavyweight races. The call comes for them to come to the paddock. Time for a last cuddle and kiss from me and I tell them to be safe and to run as hard as they can and that I’ll see them at the end oh and that I love them, then the dogs and Alan are off down to the start and I’m walking to the finish to pick the dogs up.
The group before my dogs comes and goes and then it’s my dog’s race and I can’t remember what coat he’s in and what trap he’s coming out of. And anyway it’s too late now because they are out and they are running and they are hurtling up the track towards me as fast as they can move their legs. And then in 10 secs approx it’s all over and I’m rushing to the lure to pick up my dog and if it’s one of my better racing dogs I most likely haven’t a clue where they’ve finished and if it’s one of my slow show breds well then they’ve come last. So I pick my dog up off the lure and I tell them what a good dog they are and make a fuss of them. Then I check to see where the dog has finished and it’s well……….. it’s race over.
Then I repeat that with all of my dogs and it’s time to work out who’s wearing what coats in the next round, what traps they are in and who they are running against. Any Quarter Finals are run and it’s lunch break for 30 mins or so. Then it’s on to the semi’s and with any luck we won’t fall out at this stage and at least some of the dogs will go into the finals, main for our faster dogs and con’s for the slow ones. Soon the finals are run. Now is the time to share hard luck stories or congratulations or commiserations with friends, the dogs are back in the van, rubbed over and having their nosh.
Time for the trophies etc to be given out, time for photos of winners to be taken, time for them to be applauded. Then it’s back to the van to pack everything away, some dogs to travel home in the porta mag box and one special little old chap to travel home with the other humans up front in the van.