Weblog: At large in the greyhound world
Making it fun is typified by Crayford's starters
AFTER a wonderful Trainers’ Championship battle ending with the crown going for the first time to Chris Allsopp, you wonder if Monmore Friday may prove to be a hell of Christmas party for all concerned when Chris’s home track hosts the inaugural Grand Final for the Bags Track Championship.
Of course sister Coral tracks Hove and Romford, alongside Hills-owned Newcastle, and the GRA’s Belle Vue and Hall Green will be seeking to land the lucrative spoils for themselves.
The overall winning team on the day picks up £6,000 and a trophy rumoured to be so big that a crane is on hand to lift it into the arena – this is in addition to the £3,000 the regional winning teams, Monmore, Romford and Belle Vue have already received [£1,000 for runners-up]. Second place gets £4,000, others £2,500. Plus the winning track gets £12,500 to be spent on extra prize-money next month, £5,000 for the runner-up.
Prize-money on Friday is a useful £500 for winners, seconds £200, others £100 – and with there a limited programme of other activities taking place in the shops on Friday, greyhound racing may well attract its greatest ever betting audience and turnover.
Our fledging Racing Post Greyhound TV has been doing its share to boost this too – Channel 231 is where I’ve been watching Hove and Henlow Thursdays, Romford plus Sunderland Fridays, and Crayford/Newcastle Saturdays.
Reaction has been excellent, the pictures and the enthusiasm of presenters/guests a joy; the plan will be to endeavour to sell 'going racing' to a whole new segment of customers.
If you caught Crayford Saturday night, you had to admire the showmanship of new starter Kayleigh there.
Barry Stanton, Crayford’s GM, tells me: “Both our Saturday evening starters have caused quite a stir. Kayleigh Evans last Saturday; and Gemma Routley the week before. They are also paraders, so the added responsibility makes the job more enjoyable for them. They've really got into the spirit of things and their smiles brighten up the proceedings.”
I hear Crayford also have some track staff hunks lined up to interest the girls,so the sense of theatre has never been greater!
It’s all come a long way since I ran a competition at Wembley to name the hare, with Houdini winning as ‘he always got away’. And so as the hare cranked up before every race, ‘Houdini’s under way’ used to be called out over the Tannoy.
Old fashioned punters never saw the need for this type of stuff, and made their feelings known, but it was heartening to get positive feedback from newcomers who liked the bit of fun.
As Jack Chandler used to say at the Stow, the most important lesson in greyhound racing is to ‘Make It Fun’ for your customers. Kayleigh and Gemma are excellent examples.
I will be up at Monmore Friday, then working in the office here at Canary Wharf Christmas Eve, and plan to get to Kempton Boxing Day.
As ever say hi if you see me around, but I wish y’all a Merry Christmas. My feeling is the sport has a lot of look forward to in 2012.