Barry Stanton

Central Park executive, former Crayford GM, and long term greyhound owner Barry Stanton asks ‘the unthinkable’. . .

Am I alone in thinking that we, as an industry, are too defensive about greyhound racing? Why is it most people being interviewed before a race feel the need to say that they hope the runners come back safe and why do many articles written about the sport include welfare concerns as an underlying issue and state that more funding is required in this area to improve the greyhounds lot?

What are we actually saying by making statements of this nature time and time again? Is it that the sport is dangerous and there is a good chance dogs will be injured every time they race and that we don’t, as a body, look after our greyhounds?

I, for one, am tiring of this attitude we promote. It is defeatist and is used almost as an apology for showing more than a passing interest in the sport. It’s all well and good that some of our great and good continually spout these platitudes but in my opinion it’s doing the industry a disservice and the question has to be asked how much damage has this negativity done?

Greyhound racing, like all forms of sport or physical activity carries inherent risks and injuries will occur. Not every greyhound will find a home at the end of its career and some greyhounds are unsuitable for rehoming. These are facts that will not change no matter how much we want them to and setting targets that those issues will be eradicated raises expectations that ultimately result in disappointment. More importantly it provides ammunition for those that wish the end of greyhound racing.

We have to accept that this sport has its dangers as horse racing does. Do we ever hear a negative view coming from the equine world even though there are thousands of race horses competing every year with countless injuries seen live on television? Of course not they can actually shoot a horse, behind screens, in front of a packed grandstand and the powers to be don’t even feel they have to mention that so why are we always so defensive instead of being proud of our welfare efforts?

Who are we trying to appease, the government, the antis or our consciences? If we are involved in this sport and it really is so bad what does it say about us as individuals? There are people who make a good living on the back of greyhound racing yet are at the forefront of broadcasting negativity in terms of injuries and lack of welfare within this sport. Perhaps they are trying to elevate themselves above these issues and easing their consciences by doing so?

What about the so called forum keyboard warriors thinking they are the greyhound police and highlighting everything that’s wrong within the industry? What’s their motive are they ‘antis in disguise’? They will say their voices have been heard and the industry has reacted but in truth the only people that listen to them are those who will use that information against us.

If we are trying to promote greyhound racing to the masses we have found a very strange way of doing so. There is nothing wrong, and everything to admire, in wanting to do the best for these fantastic animals. We have made great inroads into improving welfare over the last decade and that will continue but let’s not major on that let’s instead extol the virtues of greyhound racing and not provide ammunition to those who would wish the demise of our sport.

We have enough issues to concern us without shooting ourselves in the foot at every opportunity. Let’s be proud of our involvement in this sport and what we have done to improve it and be less defensive and insular. We must shout from the roof tops what a great sport greyhound racing is and not be the apologists that we are now in danger of becoming.