Greyhound racing is close to the top of the list of most popular sports in the United Kingdom thanks to a combination of two factors: we love dogs and it’s easy to understand. Whereas sports like rugby and football have a wealth of rules that you need to get your head around in order to figure out why a foul is given or a try is disallowed, the very notion of greyhound racing is wonderful because of its simplicity.
Races involve a number of greyhounds running around a track, chasing the hare. The dog that crosses the finish line first is the winner and takes the spoils. It’s that simple. Yes, we can add complications when it comes to our betting choices, with far more than just a bet on the winner available, but that doesn’t take away from the simplicity of the sport itself. Like horse racing, it’s popular precisely because of how easy it is to enjoy.
The Best Bookies for Greyhound Racing
When it comes to wondering which bookmaker is best for which sport, there are numerous things you need to consider. When it comes to greyhound racing those things are even more stark, simply because it’s a sport that not every bookie actually covers. Obviously all of the ones I’m going to mention here do, so weigh up what you’re looking for from a bookmaker when it comes to your personal take on greyhounds and see which one looks the most appealing.
Betfred are a good bookmaker all round, but they’re particularly interesting when it comes to looking at their greyhound racing coverage. Their odds are always very good for one thing. A quick look at a selection of the races from Swindon taking place on the afternoon when I’m writing this piece shows that they’ve got the best or equal best odds in the majority of races. They’ve also got even more UK races on offer than RaceBets had, adding Monmore, Swindon, Romford, Peterborough and Central Park to the four I mentioned earlier to their list. They take their Virtual Greyhound Racing seriously too, offering good coverage of such made up courses as Brushwood and Millersfield.
As you’d expect from one of the most successful bookmakers in the UK, Betfred have decent Live Streaming options for you. They show all Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service races and Racing Post Greyhound TV races live via their website and mobile site. All you need to do to be able to tune into them is make sure you’ve placed a small bet on the race you want to see. Though they don’t have any promotions in place specifically for greyhound racing, they do regularly have offers on the likes of accumulators that you can take advantage of with your greyhound bets.
BetVictor have made their way on to the majority of my betting guides, simply because I really rate them and love both their app and website. BetVictor’s history is also steeped in greyhound racing. The company was originally set up by the man who owned Walthamstow Stadium, William Chandler. When he died both the bookmaking business and the stadium were passed down to four of his sons, with the remaining one Ronnie being a greyhound trainer. The modern company is vastly different to the original one in so many ways, but one of the chief things that they have in common is the fact that they still have a clear love for greyhound racing.
One of the main things that sets BetVictor apart from their rivals is their ante-post coverage of greyhound racing. They aren’t the only company that allows you to place bets well in advance on certain races, but they do it better than most others. It’s normally reserved for the biggest races, with odds available to me right now for the Greyhound Derby that isn’t due to take place for the best part of eight months. The likes of the Select Stakes, the East Anglian Derby and, of course, the St. Leger are also covered will in advance by BetVictor. That’s ideal if you are the type of bettor that enjoys placing a few ante-post bets in and then having a look at the field a bit more closely once the event draws closer.
BetVictor have opted for a Timeform overview of individual races. You’ll be able to read about the dog that Timeform’s stats boffins think has the best chance of winning, as well as which one might be able to take advantage if they’re not up to scratch. I prefer the Racing Post approach if I’m totally honest, but it’s still handy to see a bookie give you some advice and tips without needing to go hunting for it.
Paddy Power is a bookmaker that’s often included on lists such as this for one main reason: their promotions. The Irish bookie has long made a name for itself by offering crazy odds or performing other such stunts and they’re one of only few companies that regularly have promotions on greyhound races. That’s not to say that they have offers all of the time, but yo will find some interesting ones from time to time.
When it comes to betting on greyhound races with the company you’ve got numerous different options. One of the first things you’ll want to consider doing is creating your own race card by selecting different races that you think you’ll want to have a bet on. It’s a neat little feature that makes life a lot easier when you’re wondering who to bet on. If you’re not overly bothered which dogs you’re betting on then their QuickPick feature is also worthy of your time. All you need to do is scroll down through all of the races and click on the tick box next to the number you’d like to bet on, with the Favourite or 2nd Favourite also being valid choices.
If you’re a bit more selective about what you want to bet on then you can you choose to view the Next 3 Races, only today’s racing, just tomorrow’s racing the Greyhound Cups, virtual greyhounds or simply the Top Trap by looking at the dropdown menu under the A-Z Betting section. In other words, Paddy Power have set their site up to be as useful as possible for as many greyhound lovers as possible. It’s a site that will appeal to those who love to pour over the race cards just as much as bettors who don’t mind being random with their selections, which is a tricky balance to pull off. You can watch most races live, too.
Betting on Greyhound Racing
According to a survey carried out by the pet food manufacturer’s association in 2017, there are around eight and a half million dogs ket as pets in the United Kingdom. That means that roughly a quarter of all households have a dog, making it the most popular pet by some distance. It goes without saying that racing greyhounds isn’t the same as having a pet Labrador, but I think it does explain the British obsession with this very particular sport. We love dogs, so even those that might not necessarily love betting will be tempted by a trip to the greyhound racing track in order to see these amazing animals at the peak of their powers.
Indeed, in many different countries around the world there’s no such thing as professional greyhound racing. The sport is entirely amateur in these locations, ran simply for the amusement of locals rather than for the purposes of gambling. Greyhound racing as a sport has its origins in coursing, with the first known attempt to to run greyhounds around a course taking place in Hendon in 1876. It wasn’t until an American named Owen Patrick Smith invented the artificial hare in 1912 that the more popular version of it we know and love today came into being. Smith actually wanted to stop the killing of rabbits that were used as lures and his long-term aimed was for us to see ‘greyhound racing as we see horse racing’.
In Britain, we didn’t get the oval track and mechanical hare that was first introduced in America in 1919 until 1926. That was when the first greyhound meeting was run at Belle Vue Stadium in Manchester and, despite the fact that only 1,700 people turned up to watch, it soon caught on. The following week around 16,000 people arrived at the stadium and the idea of watching greyhound racing as a national pastime was born. It hit its peak in the post-war years when 34 million people turned out to see the dogs racing, but it remains a popular thing to bet on more than seventy years later. That’s why I decided to add greyhound racing to my list of specific sports to tell you about, with tips for those that know the sport well and those they are new to it alike.
How to Bet on Greyhound Racing
Some people know exactly what they want to bet on and how they want to bet on it. Others like to find out their options and weigh them up, learning as they go. If you’re the sort of person who knows exactly what you’re talking about when it comes to greyhound racing then you probably don’t need to worry about this section too much, though you might well find out something you didn’t know. If you’re reasonably new to greyhound racing as a sport to bet on then read through what I’ve got to say to give yourself a better idea.
Named Dog v Trap Betting
Perhaps the biggest difference with the way that betting on greyhound racing works as compared to the likes of horse racing is that you can often bet on the trap rather than the dog. In greyhound racing, the dogs are always entered into traps, mainly because it’s difficult to get them all to line-up politely as horses do and it’s tricky to find jockeys small enough to go on their backs and control them.
With some bookmakers you can bet specifically on the trap, so if the dogs end up being moved around for some reason then your bet won’t move with the dog. Say you’ve bet on Trap 3 and MadeUpDog is in there, then there’s a re-shuffle moving MadeUpDog to Trap 6 and InventedDog goes into Trap 3. With some bookies your bet has gone from being on MadeUpDog to InventedDog if you bet on the trap.
It’s the sort of thing that it’s important to keep an eye out for, with other bookmakers not obeying this rule, resulting in your bet being cancelled if your dog is moved to another trap. Coral is one bookies that you’ll need to be specific with, given that they’ll let you choose whether you want to bet on the trap or the name of the dog. If you placed a bet on MadeUpDog and it moved traps then you’d be ok, but if it was withdrawn from the race then your bet would be made void. If you’d bet on Trap 3, on the other hand, and MadeUpDog was withdrawn and replaced by InventedDog then you’d still be ok, as long as there was a dog running from Trap 3. What I’m trying to say is, if you’ve placed a bet on a trap rather than a dog then make sure you know which greyhound is running from it before you get too excited as they’re racing down the home straight.
Win / Each-Way Betting
This is exactly the same sort of betting as you’ll be used to if you’ve ever placed a bet on a horse race. If you place your bet to Win then that’s exactly what you’ll need your chosen greyhound to do. A second-place finish will do you no favours in that instance.
If you place an Each-Way bet, on the other hand, then your chosen dog can finish in any of the Places that your selected bookie is paying out on. Normally, that’s the first two places, but it depends on how many dogs there are in the race. If there aren’t many then you won’t even get the Each-Way option. One thing to bear in mind is that your stake will be doubled for an Each-Way bet.
Place betting is essentially like placing a straight Each-Way bet. That is to say, you’ll put on a Place bet if you’re convinced your dog is going to finish either first, second or third depending on how many places are being paid out by your bookmaker, but it doesn’t involve placing two separate bets. With an Each-Way bet you’re placing two bets – one for the Win and one for if your dog doesn’t win but finishes in the place. This is just one bet that says they’ll definitely place and the payouts are therefore different.
Early Board Prices
There are commonly three prices offered on races: ante-post, early board and live prices. Ante-post are traditionally bets placed well in advance of the race, often up to months before it runs. Live prices are the prices offered in the immediate build-up to the start of the race, reflecting the bets that have been placed by other punters. Early board prices, meanwhile, are the prices that come in between these two states. Usually you can get them from around 10am up until the live prices kick in, giving you a chance to get decent odds on a greyhound that you’re confident will win but the bets haven’t brought their price down yet.
Rules to Be Aware Of
Each and every sport has its own quirks and eccentricities when it comes to betting rules. Football has the likes of the Own Goal rule on First Goalscorer bets, for example, whilst tennis has a set of rules that come into play should the match go to a tiebreak. Here are the things you should know about greyhound racing that might come in to play at some time during your betting career.
Trap Betting & Reserve Dogs
I covered this a little bit above so I’m not going to go into too much detail about it, but it’s worth re-iterating that you really need to be aware of whether you’re betting on a trap or a specific dog. If it’s the former then you’ll likely have a bet regardless of what happens to the individual dogs. In other words, three could pull out of the race but as long as there’s one running from the trap you’ve bet on you’ll be fine.
Most races have a reserve dog just in case something happens to one of the main dogs, which will come in and run to keep up the numbers. If your dog is swapped out for the reserve dog and you’re betting on a company that takes bets on traps rather than dogs then your bet will move over to the reserve dog.
This is actually a nice little feature that is commonly offered by the big bookmakers out there. Should you place an early board bet on a dog and it ends up being a non-runner, all bets placed before the announcement of the withdrawal will be settled at the Starting Price.
Obviously, you won’t be too happy with that if you managed to get an early board price of 300/1 and it’s settled at 2/1, but more often that not you’ll be pleased to get paid out rather than just getting your money refunded to you.
No Race & Re Run
If a race is declared as a no-race for some reason and is then re-run, your bet will count for the re-run rather than the original race. Some bookmakers allow you to cancel Single bets by mutual agreement. If the race is declared as void and never re-run then your bet will be made void too, allowing you to reclaim your stake.
Greyhound racing in Great Britain has an annual turnover over around £75 million. It is regulated by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain and there are twenty-three officially registered courses around the country. These courses run races that are subject to the Rules of Racing as laid out by the GBGB. At the time of writing, the courses are as follows:
- Belle Vue
- Brighton & Hove
- Central Park
- Monmore Green
- Pelaw Grange
- Perry Barr
What you might not realise is that not every meeting held at these race tracks can be attended by people hoping to watch greyhounds run in the flesh. There’s often racing all day at plenty of these registered tracks, but oftentimes some of these races are for the likes of the Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service or Racing Post Greyhound Television.
These are races that take place at the official tracks but are only for people betting via bookmakers or watching on the Racing Post’s Live Stream service. In other words, make sure you call ahead before you rock up and want to watch a race!
What Is Flapping?
If you’re an observant type then you’ll have noticed in the above section that I have repeatedly referred to ‘official’ stadiums. That’s because there are a number of unofficial greyhound racing courses around the country that do not come under the jurisdiction of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain. These courses run unlicensed greyhound racing and essentially anyone who owns a dog can turn up and race them, should they choose to.
I want to make clear at this point that this is a very dodgy practice and, despite the protestations of those involved in it, really should be avoided at all costs. It’s not uncommon for those involved in the races to drug their dogs, for example, and numerous examples of fixing races and other undesirable behaviour have been discovered in the past. That’s why bookmakers won’t offer odds on racetracks that aren’t covered by the GBGB, given that there’s no real way of knowing whether something dishonest is going on behind the scenes.
One of the other things to bear in mind when thinking about flapping is that there are no rules or regulations in place regarding the welfare of the dogs that run. GBGB courses have to have a vet on site when running races, but the same doesn’t apply to flapping courses. Though the practice is less common nowadays, there have been more unlicensed courses (256) than licensed ones (143) since greyhound racing was introduced to the UK. At the time of writin, there are five unlicensed courses in operation, which are:
- Askern (in Doncaster)
- Highgate (in Barnsley)
- Thornton (in Fife)
- Valley (in Ystrad Mynach)
- Wheatley Hill (in Durham)
When I say that bookmakers won’t offer odds on independent, unlicensed races I am, of course, talking about the sort of bookmakers that you’ll find me recommending on here. Should you actual attend a flapping course then you’ll find a group of bookies offering you odds on the dogs just as you would at an official course.
All I would say is that you should be wary of who you’re betting with and what you’re betting on. These courses are unlicensed for a reason and you might think you’re betting on one dog only for it to be replaced by a dog that looks a bit like when it comes to the race getting underway.