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Greyhound Racing Explained

Author: Victoria Fell

Greyhound racing is a popular spectator sport most particularly in the UK but also in America, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia and to a lesser extent in Scandinavia, South America and Western Europe. The sport of racing Greyhounds by having them chase a mechanical hare round an oval track can be traced to the beginning of the last century when American Owen Patrick patented the mechanical hare and greyhound racing took off in the States. During the 1920’s greyhound racing was introduced to the UK and the first race was held in 1926 at Belle Vue Race Track in Manchester. Greyhound racing has now grown into the second largest spectator sport in the country with over 3 million people a year going to ‘a night at the dogs’, as it is known colloquially in the UK.

What Happens During a Greyhound Race?

Six Greyhounds line up before the start of the race in the ‘traps’ (these are very much like the stalls used in horseracing). The greyhounds are given different coloured ‘jackets’ (in the UK these colours are trap 1. Red, Trap 2. Blue, Trap 3. White, Trap 4. Black, Trap 5. Orange and Trap.6 Black & White), these jackets are also numbered, through 1-6. The traps are released and the mechanical hare is set off and the greyhounds race round an oval track until they reach the finish line. The first to get there is declared the winner. The action is at a much quicker pace than horse racing with only 15 minutes or so between races at most tracks.

Form Guide

Just like horses Greyhounds are rated on their previous form. You will find form guides on your online sports book of choice or if you are at the track these will be provided for you. You can view the positioning of the greyhound in its last few races and how the greyhound has fared at the distance and track before. Online sports books are fantastic for this kind of information and go into great depth, you can find out how a greyhound and a trainer has performed over their entire career with the click of a mouse.

On Course and Off Course Differences

In America betting ON course (at the track itself) will be solely through a pari-mutuel (Tote) betting system ran by the track. You will not be betting against the track rather your fellow race goers (For more detail on pari-mutuel/tote betting systems please refer to my previous article Pools Betting Explained). In the UK the greyhound racing tracks also run their own ‘Tote’ betting system yet they also must allow a certain number of bookmakers to operate at the track, these bookmakers offer fixed odds betting in the same way that online sports books and licensed bookmakers do OFF course (away from the track).

Types of Bet

Whether you are betting through a fixed odds system or a pari-mutuel/Tote system, the type of bets you would place on a greyhound race are likely to be very similar. The bets below are the most common types of bet, different online sports books, tracks and bookmakers will offer additional more complex bets.

Win - Pick a Greyhound to finish first

Place - Pick a Greyhound to come either first or second. (Not likely to be available in fixed odds betting, so you won’t usually see this bet in an online sportsbook)

Each Way - Pick a Greyhound to come first or second. This is a combination of the above two bets, you bet one half of your stake on the greyhound to win and one half on the greyhound to be placed second or first.

Straight Forecast - Pick 2 Greyhounds to come first and second in ONE race in the CORRECT order.

Reverse Forecast - Pick 2 Greyhounds to come first and second in ONE race in ANY order. (Two bets)

Straight Tricast/Trifecta - Pick 3 Greyhounds to come first, second and third in ONE race in the CORRECT order.

Combi Tricast/Trifecta - Pick 3 Greyhounds to come first, second and third in ONE race in ANY order. (Six bets)


In the past Greyhound racing has been viewed rather unfairly as second best to horse racing yet statistics tend not to lie and the sports rise in popularity speaks for itself. The sport of greyhound racing is regulated tightly in the US by the GRA (Greyhound Racing Association), and in the UK by the GBGB (Greyhound Board of Great Britain), other countries also have regulatory bodies. Welfare of the animals is paramount, with large amounts of money spent to make sure the Greyhounds are happy whilst competing and just as importantly from a welfare perspective once they have retired. So if you haven’t had a bet on greyhound racing before then give it a try and see what you are missing out on!