*So Kevin Boothby decides that he will negate the ongoing runner shortage by breeding his own pups.

(*This is an imaginary scenario with Kevin chosen as he would seemingly be better placed to embark on this than the industry’s other major promoters, ARC and Entain).

He decides to rent a small holding in his native Lincolnshire. It includes a house for staff. (An absolute necessity with livestock).

By sheer chance, there are buildings that are suitable to whelp down pups but he still needs to erect fences and source feeding equipment, set up a whelping kennel, buy heat lamps, some veterinary supplies, bedding etc etc.

He decides to use his own stud dog and his own brood bitches. They are very self sufficient in that part of the world.


Nine weeks later, Kevin has a litter of eight pups.

(The average litter size is 6.4 but Kevin is a lucky guy).

They spend the first month inside and then go through a series of paddocks onto schooling age at a year old.

By lucky chance, none are lost to injury or illness, a rarity with a breed of hounds that are reared ‘free range’. (Note to RSPCA – greyhounds are not reared on puppy farms).

Allowing for inoculations, worming, flea treatment, patching up by vets, food, supplements and bedding, plus the cost of keeping mum for a year, he takes stock of what they have cost him so far.

He actually has six litters on the property, so can divide the staff costs. Though the one full timer and two part-timers all demand minimum wages and a 35 hour week with holiday cover.

He works out that each pup has cost him £1,800, and by the time they are registered and qualified it is a round £2,000.


He decides to race them from his own kennel which he rents.

He employs a trainer and four kennelstaff, each working a 35 hour week with four weeks paid holiday, overtime and in a pension scheme. (What a guy!).

Then there are the kennel running costs, rates, electric, heating, feed, vets, physios etc etc

Three years later, he speaks to his accountant.

Of the eight pups, two made 100 races, two made 80, two managed 40 and two were either injured in qualifying or broke down once they were on the track. An average of 10 each.

In total the litter had 460 races. They all ran A3 at Towcester, winning one race in every six and including prize money and bonus, they averaged £82 for every race they contested.

In total the prize money comes out at £37,720.

So take off the cost of rearing, that is around £22K ‘in profit’.

But then there is the allocated cost of keeping them in kennels. Working to an average of 18 months (the injured ones weren’t in the kennel for the whole period) for eight greyhounds at £10 per day, that works out at £43,840. (At £8 per day, it is £35K).

Then there is just the cost of keeping them in kennels until they can be re-homed!


Clearly, there is a lot of guesswork involved in these figures, but if anything, I have tried to underplay, rather than overplay the costs and risks. (Though the staff costs were meant to reflect current employment practices.)

Of course, none of this would be a surprise to the GRA accountants of 80 years ago.

Even when greyhound racing was the ultimate cash cow – when it was attracting annual attendances into nine figures – the money men worked out that the figures didn’t add up.

So GRA sold their stud kennel and rearing facility in Naas. And the breeding set-up, complete with schooling track, in Surrey.

They stopped employing rearers in Northumberland. They sold off all their stadium owned trainers’ kennels, including those at Northaw, which housed the runners for three successful tracks.

All those years ago, when promoters were making far more cash than the current track owners could ever dream about, the bean counters worked out that breeding and owning greyhounds was a mug’s game.


They needed the dogs of course, but it made much more sense to entice owners to subsidise their businesses.

That meant paying prize money to a level that kept a hobby as affordable. It meant trophies and jackets. Good quality restaurants – which were not subsidised by the way – diners wanted to eat in them and entertain friends.

It meant staging meetings when owners could actually get along and watch their dogs.

It meant supporting specialist greyhound media to write stories and provide photographs for the owners to read about their dogs. To give them their occasional hard earned moment in the spotlight or just to keep them entertained and engaged in their hobby.

These days that would include guaranteeing decent TV and internet coverage too.

It meant ensuring that the owners could get a bet on – and yes – 70 years before the apparently generous injury recovery scheme – GRA were paying out large sums to the owners of every dog who sustained a serious injury at their tracks.

GRA started out by leasing their greyhounds and when they did breed the occasional litter – as they did at Northaw – the greyhounds were sold, ready to race, at less than cost.


None of this was done because they were nice guys (all accountants are born without a soul), but because it made sound business sense.

When this current crop of promoters work out that every owner leaving the industry is literally going to cost them thousands of pounds, they might try a little harder.