Sport » General
Spanish Greyhound achieves national success
Kevin Reardon / 2005-06-02 12:04:10
Not as we know it from the United Kingdom and Ireland but Greyhound Racing has recently achieved National success in Torrevieja when Nicole Dallow and her husband Rafael Escribano, proprietors of a swimming pool and hot tub shop on the Avda Cortes Valencianas, recently achieved third place in the Spanish National Championships with their dog Brasileña. However, here in Spain there are three types of greyhound racing. There is track racing, the like of which we know from home, the only stadium for which is which is situated at the Caní³droma Meridiana in Barcelona. Racing there takes place every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday morning as well as every afternoon. There is also a form of greyhound racing practised on a straight track, regularly seen in Torrevieja but usually far too early for me. That usually takes place on a Sunday morning. The other form of racing, as we would know it, is 'Hare Coursing' and it is this form of the sport in which Nicole and Rafael achieved their National success. The sport is undertaken on an area of land which must be wide, long and flat, very large farmer's fields which, for obvious reasons must also be plentiful in hares. Unfortunately the type of land found in the local area is not particularly well suited to 'coursing' so the nearest point in which suitable areas can be found is out toward Albacete, a distance of 300kms.
To compete in the Championship owners must be members of the Spanish Federation. The Torrevieja region falls within Castilla La Mancha.
Each club within the Federation presents its champion dog, approximately 120 from Castilla La Mancha, and through a series of heats and races that number is eventually reduced to 4. The same procedure is applied in each of the other two regions, Andalucia and Castelleon. The major cities, Madrid and so forth, have their own selection process so eventually a total of 16 greyhounds are represented at the National Finals. Each dog receives a thorough vetinary check and, so as to ensure there is no switching of dogs, they each receive a small tattoo in their ear.
Racing takes place in pairs. Supervision is provided by three judges, a commissioner and a timekeeper, all of whom are on horseback. They use a series of different coloured scarves to indicate the number of points awarded. At the start of the race a neutral handler will walk with the two competing dogs. Everybody else walks behind. When the hare appears from the ground, coaxed into so doing by the dogs, the judge blows a whistle and the dogs are released. But the dog that gets to the hare first is not necessarily the winner. It depends on stamina, resistance, speed, how many times the dog hits the hare, and how cleanly the hare is killed, so there are a lot of points to be won in one race. Whilst one dog might be faster than the other there are far more aspects to the race than speed. If the dog overtakes the hare and doesn't attempt to kill it he is disqualified. Apparently he is called a 'dirty dog'. The point of the race is to find the cleanest dog, one which will 'course' and hit the hare directly from behind. Some races can last as little as 30 seconds while others take as long as 5 minutes. That is why the Spanish greyhound is such a hardy dog. Perhaps not as fast as its' overseas counterpart but by necessity a Spanish dog will have bigger lungs and far more stamina.
Nicole got involved in greyhound racing 16 years ago when she first met her husband. He was already locally active in the sport. As the years have passed the dogs have got better and their standard of competition has improved culminating with the recent success in the Spanish Nationals. "We were champion and sub champion for Castilla La Mancha, first and third" Nicole told The Leader, "with two sisters from the same litter. The pair were just 15 months old. As they were so young we will be able to race them again next season in which we hope they will do much better. In a lot of people's eyes our dog Brasileña actually won the Championship. As the hare started to race another hare lifted and each dog went with a different hare. Although the judges stopped the race Brasileña ran 3 min 30 secs while the other dog ran just 1 min 20 secs. They then went straight into the next race and as you can imagine Brasileña was shattered. But this is her best achievement to date and we were obviously delighted to get as far as we did".
Nicole and Rafael have our own breeding station with 32 greyhounds. In fact one of their dogs, the mother of the litter, was champion in 1996. The pair also has another litter that is now ready for the coming season. Nicole would be delighted to welcome any interested individuals into the sport. She would also be keen to accept offers of assistance from anyone who might be keen to help out with her dogs. "I find it very difficult to give them the attention they need so if there are any volunteers who would like to give me a hand I would be delighted to hear from them". You can contact Nicole in her shop most days of the week on 96 571 11 36