Dog racing

Dog racing started in the 1870s with greyhound coursing, where two greyhounds competed to catch a hare in the wild, initially at Quamby. In the 1920s, electric hares replaced live hares, but interest was slight as betting was illegal. Premier Ogilvie, keen to support a working class sport, reversed this law, and in 1935 a track was opened at the Hobart cricket ground on the Domain. A large crowd watched greyhounds chase a conical piece of tin through which poked some rabbit skin, pulled on fishing line by a hand-cranked bicycle wheel. The new sport was popular, with other tracks at Launceston and Devonport. Greyhound racing was commenced in Launceston by the White City Coursing Track Pty Ltd in 1933. However the company was not financially successful and after a public meeting the Launceston Greyhound Racing Club was formed in 1935.

Racing blossomed in the 1950s, with the Hobart Greyhound Racing Club and Tasmanian-bred dogs seen as the best in Australia. Crowds declined in the 1970s, a new venue in the Hobart Showgrounds (1980), though plush, had little atmosphere, and by 2004 support was low at all three clubs. The Launceston Greyhound Racing Club continued to conduct meetings at the White City complex until December 2004. The three racing codes, gallops, harness and greyhound, are now located at the Mowbray Racing Centre.

A second canine sport, sheep dog trials, has been a feature of country shows since the 1940s.

Further reading: David Young, Sporting Island, Hobart, 2004; QVMAG guide to Launceston Greyhound Racing Club Inc Records, CHS 86.

Alison Alexander