Oceana? Don’t be silly, its open race night at Nottingham Greyhound track! Entry costs the same, but then they give you free money! Well, not quite free, you have to back a winner but with only six dogs in each race how hard can that be?
Three of us arrived at the Colwick Park racetrack on a frosty November night and set about studying the race card. Although I consider myself something of a pro at this gambling malarkey (I once won £9 on the Grand National) it took us a good half hour to work out what all the numbers written next to the dog’s name meant, and then longer still to work out the odds from the baffling screens inside. ‘Oh shit I’ve bet on the wrong horse’ pretty much summed up our initial confusion. But there are thirteen races a night (7-11pm) so plenty of time to get rich.
After each race we retreated into the large bar to keep warm (beer £2) and betted on the next race. A few races in and no winners, but I was confident that my careful analysis of each dog’s form would soon pay dividends. Meanwhile my mate Luke was just going for the best name – what an amateur! One scrawny looking hound was called ‘Cagey Luke’ so against my advice Luke put a couple of quid on that at a 50-1 long-shot.
A few moments later, and we were going mental as Cagey Luke scampered victoriously past the finishing post. It was a glorious moment, possibly the greatest ever in greyhound racing. The plucky underdog had triumphed against all odds. We strolled up to the Tote counter and Luke slammed down his winning ticket with a smirk that seemed to say ‘Yes that’s right, I’m your daddy.’(In hindsight I might have been getting a bit carried away at this point, but it was an emotional time after all.)
However, the pay out girl seemed unimpressed and we soon realised why; with the Tote, you get the final starting price, not the odds at the time you made the bet. This is worth remembering because it means its best to bet as late as possible. The odds had shortened so much that Luke had not won £50 but in fact, the princely sum of £2.63.
Still, we’d had a good time and I’d recommend going dogging – there’s races Monday, Friday and Saturday nights. And Luke didn’t mind about his anticlimax…he’d won enough for a kebab on the way home and in his world, that’s as good as it gets.