It’s small winnings but big excitement down at the dog track. Wcros: Henry Northmore

t was with some trepidation that I went to

the dogs. imagining it to be rife with

shady characters. under-the-counter deals and back handers. How wrong could I be‘.’

After paying your entrance fee. which includes a programme of the day’s races. you move through to the main arena. Glasgow's Shawfield Stadium may not be the plushest of venues but it's perfect for the job in hand. Excited. we rush to track side and watch the greyhounds being paraded up and down. a ritual that takes place before each race. Then we pick our mutt using the time-honoured method of going for the dog with the best name and the nicest coat. I approach the window and place my first bet. Not wanting to look like a first timer I put down some big money. a hefty £4.

The bell sounds and the electricity in the air builds. heightened by the sound of the hare. a bright luminous affair. whizzing past on wires crackling with friction. Then they're off. Passing right under our noses. just two metres from where we stand. With the race lasting a couple of minutes and the lead seeming to change on every corner. there‘s no time to catch your breath. And we won . . . or did we'? A photo finish for our first race!

Almost inevitably we come second. too new at this game to win straight off the bat. I guess. After two more races with our dogs infuriatineg being pipped at the post. I start to worry I'm not going to win all night. Taking into account the law of averages I must win at least once (there are nine races tonight and only five dogs in each).

Then in prances Popalong Petite. a sleek. hungry-looking beast. Time to lay down some cash. He starts off badly and is still in third after the first bend. But he’s not defeated. inching further and further up the field until on the final bend snatching

victory. I go to collect my _ winnings. a magnificent

We [3le our £5.08 from a £3 stake. mutt using the So after another win

and a few more losses the

til118*h0n0ured race meet was over. And

. what fun it was. The races Of are over so quickly and QOIHQ for the with an event every ten dog the minutes. you don’t have

time to get bored. All of

bCSt name arid this and some of the

' . nicest punters around. and the "Icest all willing to help the odd


dfl' &' Itiin ltun um

Offildcn &' nicllo“ WI '3