RISE AND FALL OF THE WATERLOO CUP
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.