For the first 70+ years of its existence up until the mid-1950s, greyhound racing was simply a one-on-one sport also referred to as ‘coursing’ which was conducted on paddocks throughout Victoria.

Greyhounds raced up to three times in a day – and in some cases six times across a weekend – in a knockout competition that was a true test of speed and endurance.

From those early pioneering days, coursing has been a part of the social and sporting fabric of Australia.

The first coursing meeting in Victoria was conducted at Sunbury on May 28, 1873.

In the summer of 1872, a small group of sportsmen approached Mr William Clarke, the biggest landholder and richest man in the Colony, with a request to form a coursing club and course on his property at Sunbury.

Clarke, who was already president of the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC), was to become president of the Victoria Coursing Club (VCC).

A special train was provided to take spectators from Spencer Street to Sunbury. The main event of the card for the first meeting was the Sunbury Stakes with 32 dogs competing for a 20 sovereign ($2300) piece of plate donated by the VCC.

From 1873 to 1930, coursing clubs were popping up all across Victoria with more than 30 clubs. Inner-city haunts like Fitzroy, Collingwood and Footscray, to far afield places such as Bendigo, St James and Mortlake.


While most people associate greyhound racing with eight dogs exiting a set of starting boxes wearing different coloured rugs and racing around a circle, coursing continues to operate today, albeit on a smaller scale.

Regional Victorian straight tracks in Lang Lang and Longwood host coursing events on weekends during the cooler months.

A person known as the ‘slipper’ has a special pair of leather leads whereby he releases two greyhounds at once, one wearing a white knitted collar and the other with a red knitted collar for identification.

Each coursing season culminates with the Waterloo Cup series (trophy pictured below), which has been the pinnacle coursing event since it all began in 1873.

One-on-one racing is something many greyhounds continue to thrive on, as competing multiple times in a day can greatly improve fitness levels and running up a straight can extend the careers of race dogs who may struggle to run around bends.

For more information on coursing, click here