We have had three runners-up in the Betfred Gymcrack: Blazing Ruso, Newinn Yolo and Swift Carter, but even if The Other Billy wins next week’s final, it the event will have been a disaster for us.

A lot has been said about the disqualification ‘for fighting” of Blackstone Ollie. I have spoken to a lot of people who agreed with me, and I know there has been plenty of comment on the internet saying I was wrong. I respect that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but sometimes those opinions are based on bad information. Quite frankly, a lot of the opinions are based on ignorance.

Firstly, I should say that I have had a number of dogs disqualified over the years and have never disputed one before. The starting point is, what is ‘deliberate interference’. The rule says:

The term ‘Deliberate Interference’ shall refer to the intentional interference by a Greyhound with one or more Greyhound(s) during a Trial or Race. The Local Stewards shall disqualify any Greyhound which deliberately interferes and the Owner of the Greyhound shall forfeit rights in that Trial or Race as specified in Rule 95. Such decision shall be final for the purpose of such Trial or Race. The Local Stewards shall make a public announcement of any disqualifications and shall ensure that written notice of the disqualification of a Greyhound shall be given to the Trainer, or his/her representative under Rule 49(i)(b), and signed acknowledgement of receipt of the notice obtained, before authority is given for the Greyhound to be removed from the Racing Paddock under Rule 117.
The Trainer shall inform any other Race course, at which such a Greyhound is already entered in a Race or Trial, of the issue of such notice.
The first point that people fail to understand is that the rule was changed. It used to say “aggressive interference” or something similar. That was a better wording. Why? Because at every meeting you will watch, dogs are often deliberately interfering with the running of other dogs. I have had dog who push their way through at the first bend, even if that means knocking another dog out of the way. By any interpretation in any dictionary, that must count as ‘interference’. In fact, I am gutted when you get a fast dog who isn’t prepared to barge his way through.
I defy anybody to watch the side-on camera and say that Ollie fought. He had his heels clipped at the first bend and then checked coming off the second.
The stadium then provided a head-on view of the race. I saw it for the first time when I went to the judge’s box after the disqualification. There is film and a still pic. It is quite clear that Ollie looks inwards, but in my opinion, the six takes his ground. But did Ollie actually interfere? In other words, did he prevent Paul Young’s dog going past? I didn’t think so, and neither did Paul. He didn’t lose an inch. Nor did Ollie do anything wrong when coming through at the last bend or on the way to the winning line.
You get interference in horse racing when they decide whether to disqualify a horse. Did it affect the result? How many lengths did it cost the loser? The same in athletics in a 5,000 metre race. They all push each other to get a clear run.
So are we going to start disqualifying dogs on the basis of what you can see on a backstraight camera? Add that to dogs deliberately bumping each other out of the race and as Stuart Forsdike commented ‘we would have a dog disqualified in every race’.
I am not stupid, I would naturally be concerned if a racing manager saw what was visible on the backstraight camera, but I would expect him to call me to the judge’s box and say ‘Pat, you need to look a this. I think he might need a bit more schooling’. At worst, he might put ‘awkward’ on his card.
What you can never do is say ‘what if he does it next time?’ You cannot condemn a dog on the basis of something he ‘might’ do.
As for some of the comments on the internet. . .they just sicken me. You have supposed ‘greyhound people’ taking joy in seeing a 17 month old pup disqualified. Some of them seem to revel in it. You can never say with young dogs whether they will do it again. In Ollie’s case, I really don’t think he will. At home, he was just a baby who hadn’t grown up. Even on a lead, his attention just seemed to wander. Having said that, I never expected him to be awkward on the track.
The person who I feel most sorry for is the owner John Lambe. He spent a lot of money on Ollie as an unraced pup and he is absolutely fuming. He has owned a lot of dogs over the years but I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t just leave the game.
I am also unimpressed with GBGB who have let Kinsley away with not notifying me of the disqualification before I left the paddock, according to the rules. There seems to be one rule for one. . .  .
I have spoken to trainers representative Peter Harnden who has spoken to Barry Faulkner about a review of the disqualification rule. It is too late for Ollie, there is no appeals procedure, which in itself cannot be right. But this needs to change for all our sakes.