EADT Suffolk - - Farmers Wife -

Cours­ing un­der Na­tional Cours­ing Club rules dates from the foun­da­tion of the first pub­lic cours­ing club at Swaffham, Nor­folk, in 1776. In essence, cours­ing was run as a knock-out com­pe­ti­tion. Two grey­hounds com­pet­ing against each other were marked by a judge, on horse­back, for speed and agility. A hare was al­lowed at least a 100 yard ad­van­tage be­fore the grey­hounds were re­leased, and the dogs were judged as they chased the hare through the field. The win­ning dog went on to the next round. In the vast ma­jor­ity of courses, the hare es­caped un­harmed. In the mid-1800s, rail­way travel made it easy for peo­ple to go cours­ing and it at­tracted huge crowds of spec­ta­tors. In 1836, Wil­liam Lynn, pro­pri­etor of the Water­loo Ho­tel in Liver­pool, ran the Water­loo Cup at Alt­car, a three-day meet­ing, which by the late 1800s was a ma­jor na­tional event at­tract­ing crowds of 75,000 daily. He or­gan­ised the first Grand Liver­pool Steeplechase at nearby Ain­tree the fol­low­ing year, The Grand Na­tional as we know it. In 1926, grey­hound rac­ing in sta­di­ums was in­tro­duced and soon be­came more pop­u­lar. The Water­loo Cup crowds in the years pre­ced­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of the Hunt­ing Act dwin­dled. It was last run in 2005.


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