The Thrill and Joy of Ownership
In 2022, there was a greyhound racing story to melt a heart of stone and bring a tear to the eye.
When builder Micky Barrett, a dad of three and a grandfather, sadly lost his life to cancer, his friends wanted to do something to honour his memory. 67 of them got together and bought a racing greyhound in his name. But the dog – Mickys Barrett – turned out to be even more of a wonder than the syndicate expected.
After impressing with his initial performances, Mickys Barrett was entered for the English Greyhound Derby to compete in the sport’s most prestigious 192-runner race. And not just that – he ran so well that he reached the final, where there was a first-prize purse of £175,000 up for grabs.
Before the final, syndicate organiser Ashley said: “The majority of us knew little to nothing about greyhound racing but the whole journey so far has been a whirlwind. To say we are excited is an understatement. It is going to be electric.”
The whole syndicate was there at Towcester Racecourse for the occasion and watched Mickys Barrett put on a fantastic performance, finishing third overall and winning them a substantial sum.
He has since gone on to win a major competition and there is now even talk of a feature film about his story!
You, too, can be part of the ownership experience.
Owning a racing greyhound is easier than you think – with different options, it needn’t cost a fortune. Within such a large syndicate, the Mickys Barrett guys paid just £100 each.
And although only a few greyhounds reach the sought-after final of the Derby, you can have a great deal of enjoyment all year round for a modest outlay.
Become an Owner
There are multiple options for ownership, giving you flexibility. You can own as an individual, in a partnership of up to four people, or as a syndicate involving an unlimited number of participants. Obviously, the more of you there are, the less you will pay.
The process set out below deals primarily with syndicate ownership, but the principles are very similar. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us via email@example.com.
Or visit your local track and speak to staff there!
1. Get your group together, then pick a name and a syndicate head.
You may be a sports club, share a common interest, work for the same employer, want to commemorate a person or event or just want to step up your involvement in the sport!
While all of you will be involved in your greyhound’s racing journey as part of a syndicate, you’ll need to nominate someone to take overall responsibility for signing the paperwork as ‘syndicate head’.
2. Work out how much you want to spend and what you can afford.
With modest registration and set up fees, you can get a racing greyhound for anywhere between £1,000 and £50,000. You should consider not only upfront costs but also any ongoing costs to support your greyhound’s welfare and care. This includes their training, food and board.
Some people like to pay more upfront to reduce monthly costs, while others like to spread payments over a greater period of time. Consider what works for you, explore your options and take advice!
3. Pick a trainer.
There are greyhound stadia up and down the country – you can find a list of our licensed tracks here: GBGB Racecourses. Most people start by buying a greyhound to race at their local stadium. That way you can watch it run more easily and get the most enjoyment out of your ownership experience.
Each track has licensed trainers attached to it who race their greyhounds there. Most tracks have a website which also lists their trainers’ names and contact details. If your chosen track doesn’t have a list of trainers online you can telephone its Racing Office for information or visit the track and ask in person.
Choose a trainer you like the look and sound of, or shortlist a few options. Speak to as many as you want as part of your research. When you’ve made your selection, it’s a great idea to arrange a visit to their kennels too.
4. Pick a greyhound.
If you’re new to racing it is very important that you rely on your chosen trainer to do this. Racing greyhounds can be acquired in many ways and your trainer will advise you on suitable options within your price bracket.
Your trainer will also talk you through what monthly charges there will be for them to look after your greyhound if you haven’t chosen to pay a bigger lump sum up front to cover this.
5. Receive your greyhound.
Not personally – your greyhound will arrive at your trainer’s kennels. It may have been there already, especially if you have bought it from them (most trainers will have some greyhounds of their own for sale). If it has been bought from elsewhere your greyhound may take up to a couple of weeks to arrive.
6. Register you and your greyhound with GBGB.
Greyhound owners, while not directly licensed by GBGB, must be registered as an owner with us. To do so, new owners must supply proof of identity (either a copy of a UK driving licence or passport) and proof of address (a recent utilities bill or letter showing your current address). If you’re part of a syndicate, this will be the responsibility of your syndicate head.
Once registered as an owner, you will then be able to register your greyhound to trial and race at a GBGB-licensed track. Your trainer will be able to support you with this. There are just one or two simple forms to complete and sign. Trainers often send the forms to experienced owners by post to complete and return but if you’re new to this the best thing to do is sit down with your trainer and fill them in together. He or she will then submit them to GBGB on your behalf.
When you register your racing greyhound, you are also required to pay a bond of £200 – matched by £200 from GBGB – as part of the Greyhound Retirement Scheme (GRS). This will be released upon your greyhound’s successful retirement, assuming they go to an approved homing centre, to help with the costs of their rehoming. Again, your trainer can help you manage this process.
7. Your greyhound trials.
In order to be able to run at a GBGB-licensed track, every greyhound must complete a number of trial races so that the stadium’s Racing Manager can see how it runs – e.g. how fast, on the inside of the track, the outside etc. This will eventually enable the Racing Manager to place the greyhound in an appropriate trap in a suitable race.
Most greyhounds need to complete three such trials, but it can occasionally be more. You are welcome to visit the track to watch your greyhound trial. Many tracks now publish trials and races on social media, such as YouTube, so you can watch it there if you can’t get to the track.
8. Your greyhound races.
Once qualified following the trials process above, your greyhound will be listed to run in a proper race. Depending on the track you have chosen, this may be in the evening, in the afternoon or even in the morning. You can see when greyhounds are running by monitoring lists on your stadium’s website, on other popular websites and your trainer may also let you know.
If your syndicate head has opened an account on GBGB’s website, as part of the Owners’ Portal, they will also receive an email early on the day of every run. Your greyhound will then run every six to ten days or thereabouts, in line with your trainer’s advice.
9. Your greyhound receives prize money.
Each time a greyhound runs it is awarded prize money which is paid to your trainer. The amount varies from track to track and depends on which grade of race your greyhound is in. The money is appreciably higher when it wins.
If you have agreed with your trainer to pay kennel bills on an ongoing basis, the total of that month’s prize money is set against the kennel charges. If the greyhound earns more in winning races than it costs in a month, the surplus is usually carried forward so you pay less in future.
10. Enjoy the experience.
Going to watch your greyhound isn’t the end of it. Trainers encourage you to visit the kennels and to meet, walk your greyhound and give it treats. This is usually on a Sunday, but other arrangements are possible.
Many people who buy a share in a syndicate greyhound enjoy the process so much they go on to buy more, often on their own account.
When you visit the track to watch your greyhound race, you can dine in the restaurant – stadia restaurants tend to be very good these days – or you can hang out in the bar and terraces where you can mingle with other owners and greyhound fans.
As an owner, you can usually greet your greyhound when it finishes its race. If you are lucky enough to win a trophy race you will get the opportunity to have your photograph taken with your greyhound when you receive the trophy!
A Good Life for Every Greyhound
It’s a privilege and a joy to be a racing greyhound owner, but also a responsibility.
As an owner, you are responsible for your greyhound from the moment you buy it until it is comfortably curled up on its retirement sofa. There may be periods during its racing years when it might be injured or in season if it is a bitch and therefore unable to run. When its racing days are over there may well also be a period when it has to remain in kennels until a suitable home can be found. You will still be financially responsible for it during these periods when the dog may not be earning any prize money, so you should budget accordingly.
At GBGB, we put the welfare of the greyhound above all else and we expect you will want to do the same. You can read more about this work in our Welfare and Care website area or if you are interested in rules governing an owner’s responsibilities you can view GBGB Rule 18.