The media battle between ARC/GMG and SIS is almost certainly responsible for a 6.5% increase in UK greyhound registrations in 2017 writes Floyd Amphlett.

A total of 8,094 new greyhounds were registered for racing with GBGB as tracks with contracts with both media providers looked to strengthen their racing numbers. That represents an increase of 490 greyhounds on the previous year.

A quick glimpse at the graph indicates how registration numbers have fluctuated since 1997. The peak was 2005 when 11,912 were made available for NGRC racing. With around three dozen independent tracks still in operation, the total number of imports was considerably higher.

The figures continued to drop and eventually dipped under the 8,000 mark for the first time in 2011 before reaching an all-time low of 7,329 in 2014 followed by a minor bounce in 2015.

Of those registered in 2017, 6,767 (83.6%) were Irish bred, with 1,327 (16.4%) British bred.

The increase in the number of greyhounds will be a concern to welfarists. It leaves the industry with another 500 or so greyhounds to be re-homed (most within the next two and a half years) and still no sign that the biggest betting companies are prepared to pay into the BGRF on their internet business – notably Betfair/Paddy Power.

On the plus side, the rise in registrations, coupled with the continued decline in breeding, is further evidence that the slowest least valuable greyhounds are finding racing careers. The cynics might say that Ireland is exporting its welfare issues along with its valuable racers.

*As an aside – There were 1,497 British bred pups born in 2015. If we assume that all the 2017 registrations were 2015 whelps (which the vast majority must have been), then roughly 89% made racing careers. Nationally, home finders would have been left with a maximum of 170 pups (minus those who died of illness or injury between six weeks and 15 months of age) to re-home in a year.

Since young dogs are indisputably easier to re-home than ex-racers, the claims made about the fate of ‘ALL those who don’t make it’ are made to look fatuous.