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Old dogs to learn new tricks

The 2019 Victorian coursing calendar has been released with a Catch on the Coursing meeting scheduled to kick off the season on Sunday 7 April at Longwood.

Buoyed by a 15 per cent increase in nominations last season, National Coursing Association President Peter Craig is excited at the season ahead, which will include an increased number of veteran races scheduled.

“We also look at holding Veterans races at each meeting if entries permit as many trainers have mentioned requiring an avenue for their older chasers that may have lost a little desire,” Craig said.

Another important change to take place in 2019 will be an earlier start time across the board.

“In recent years coursing meetings have extended from 10 to 12 events on the program similar to the track meetings. This translates to an extra 14 courses on the day,” Craig said. “Given the limited daylight hours in the winter months we course our greyhounds, there have been a few occasions in recent years where hold-ups in the program have resulted in some late finishes in poorer light conditions.”

“To assist with this issue, the 2019 season with conduct the first course at each meeting 30 minutes earlier, at 9.30am rather than 10am. This will also mean that trainers will be required to present papers earlier, by 9am, also bring coursing into line with the track where kennels close 30 minutes before the first race.”

The NCA introduced Catch on to Coursing meetings a few years ago to give trainers an opportunity to find out about coursing and to introduce their dogs to coursing in a more relaxed, picnic atmosphere.

“At the Catch on to Coursing meetings the greyhounds only compete twice in the day, heats and finals as opposed to the heats, semis and final of normal coursing meetings. It also allows trainers to assess how well their greyhounds cope with more than one run in the day, and those trainers with dogs defeated in the heats may nominate for a consolation final if they wish,” Craig said.

“As these meetings are picnic meetings greyhounds don’t go up in grade if they win and there is no prize money, however the hardworking Longwood Committee does a spectacular job in organizing prizes for the day.”

All trainers and greyhounds are encouraged to compete at the upcoming Catch on to Coursing meeting.

Q&A with Peter Craig

Q. What are the main highlights of the 2019 coursing calendar?
The highlight of the 2019 season will no doubt be the Waterloo Cup to be staged at Longwood over the August 24/25 weekend. Our Age Classics, the Sylvester Doyle Puppy Championship at Lang Lang in June and the Derby and Oaks at Benalla in July are sure to unearth a future coursing star. Whilst a recent innovation, the Slips to Boxes events at Longwood to Shepparton and Lang Lang to Cranbourne have become very sought-after trophies for trainers of track dogs looking for a bit of spark in the dogs racing.  

Q. Does the 2019 coursing calendar differ in any significant way from previous years?
The 2019 calendar is similar to the successful 2018 calendar but we have granted the Benalla Club the Derby and Oaks classics for the first time in many years given the rave reviews their quality track has received. Once again we race for Tier 3 prizemoney for our normal events and start the season with the Benalla and Lang Lang meetings with preference to those greyhounds that are coursing maidens.

Q. For trainers yet to try coursing, why should they give it a go?
For trainers, coursing will remind them why they fell in love with greyhound racing. From the way their charges fire up from the slips and regain their zest for racing, to the camaraderie with fellow trainers and the assistance everyone is willing to give. For newer trainers, coursing will introduce them to new skills of massage and feeding between courses, something foreign to the track racing scene, and improve their understanding of their greyhounds’ requirements. The involvement of family and friends helps make the day of coursing a special one.

Q. Does coursing suit a particular type of greyhound?
All greyhounds will benefit from a day of coursing. The start from slips is a very natural start for dogs as they take off after the lure as soon as it moves. With only one competitor per course, there is a great deal less interference, so confidence is gained and that benefits all. Female greyhounds especially benefit with many events restricted by sex. And many trainers find that two or three runs in a day can bring their greyhound’s level of fitness to a higher standard. The coursing greyhound comes in all shapes and sizes but the champion courser is one that has exceptional speed (as opposed to great reflexes at boxrise) as the start from slips is while the dogs are in motion. This greyhound must be able to rest between courses and come out and do it all again a few hours later. This is the greyhound we all would like to take to Longwood in August!

Q. Does coursing suit a particular type of trainer?
Coursing suits a trainer that loves spending the day with his dogs and his friends. The coursing day can be a long one and is a busy one between the warm ups and cool downs, and that’s only the barbeque and esky!

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