There was short term relief but long term concern for the UK racing industry as the Irish Coursing Club revealed its registrations for 2017 writes Floyd Amphlett.
The litter total of 2,441 was the lowest since the early days of the sport but was only down by 79 litters on the previous year – around 4%.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that it is almost – bar a slight anomaly in 2013/14 – the seventh consecutive year of decline, meaning breeding numbers have fallen by almost exactly 50% in 15 years.
Worse still, the decline is accelerating, matings for 2017 were down a massive 9%, figures that will start to feed into the 2018 litters.
The only real plus is that the number of transfers – almost certainly predominantly adult dogs headed for export to the UK – is up by 235 to 11,034.
The most likely interpretation of that is that even though there are fewer greyhounds being born, a larger percentage are being exported, ie more of the slower dogs, who might previously not been considered worth export.
For breeding students, there are some other interesting pointers.
The first is a reduction in the dominance of a handful of stud dogs. The days of stud dogs like Droopys Kewell producing around 350 litters in a year are long gone.
Since the introduction of AI, the limit was set at 240 matings per year, though nothing seems likely to get close to challenging that.
In 2016, the most prolific sire was Droopys Jet with 188 litters followed by Laughill Blake (126) , Kinloch Brae (122), Skywalker Puma (113), Paradise Madison (106) and Superior Product (101).
In 2017, Droopys Jet was again the busiest sire but with 126 litters, followed by Kinloch Brae (101) and Ballymac Vic (81).
With the demand for runners being fed by the media rights battle, the obvious conclusion is that the price of greyhounds looks set to rise for the foreseeable future.
For Irish breeders, who have subsidised UK racing to the tune of millions of pounds per year, that can only be good news.
But with so many breeders having already given up, there seems negligible chance of any resurgence in Irish breeding any time soon.