Wigan pub racing to success on the greyhound track
A Wigan pub is racking up success on the greyhound racing track after a group of regulars decided to plunge in and own their own animals.
The Colliers Arms in New Springs now has two racing dogs appearing at meetings around the country while further animals on the track are owned by regulars.
The pub secured its biggest success to date recently when Charder girl won £1,000 for coming first in a major event at Doncaster for female dogs.
She has also reached the semi-finals of races at Belle Vue and the syndicate of drinkers which owns her is now looking for other big races to enter her in.
The pub’s other greyhound, appropriately enough called Colliers arms, has been taking part in races on the scene for more than a year now.
Around 25 people connected with the Wigan Road watering hole are now involved in greyhound racing, with two syndicates owning dogs and a number of individuals also having their own animals.
The whole idea was started by pub owner Gary Southern, who has a long association with the sport as his cousins Paul and Neil Prior are renowned greyhound trainers.
Gary said: "The first dog we got was Colliers arms and she generated a lot of interest because she won a couple of races.
"When I took her over 16 months ago I asked people in the pub who were into horse racing and greyhounds if they’d be interested in buying her and I got 10 names more or less straight away.
"We were able to get a second dog with the winnings for a different group of syndicate members and we called her Charder girl. She won a big competition for bitches at Doncaster and she did well in the Northern Oaks too.
"She was unlucky in that and also in the Oaks at Towcester. She got to the semi-final in both of those competitions. Her success has generated a lot of interest for the pub.
"We’re now looking at an event called the TV Trophy and some other competitions which are suitable for her. It’s onwards and upwards.
"It’s a bit unusual for a pub to have racing greyhounds, I haven’t heard of another one that does this. I think we’re pretty unique.
"We all travel to the big races. When she ran at Belle Vue we took the minibus from the pub and it was a great evening.
"She won at odds of eight to one so everybody was more than happy coming home.
"We had a few drinks in the Colliers afterwards. There were a few sore heads on Sunday morning!"
The racing dogs come from Ireland originally and are then trained by Neil and Paul at their base in Doncaster.
The two brothers are well known on the scene, having been involved in running animals in races for well over 30 years after starting out as teenagers. The Colliers Arms has now developed something of a kennel in the sport, with 10 racing greyhounds in total now connected to the pub.
Around 20 people are members of the two syndicates which run Colliers arms and Charder girl and Gary is keen to hear from anyone who would be interested in setting up a third group.
Gary says the syndicate which owns Charder girl is doing extremely well for its initial investment, with the members only chipping in for the odd vet’s bill and the rest of the costs of keeping her being covered by her winnings from the track.
He admits the prestigious TV Trophy they are considering entering her for will be one of her biggest challenges to date as the race is run over a distance of eight bends.
He said: "She’s a free dog at the moment, she’s well looking after herself with all the prize money and betting money taken into account."
Greyhound racing has long been popular in the borough as Wigan fits into the working-class heartlands of the sport.
Although the pastime has declined in popularity since its heyday after the Second World War enthusiasts still travel to tracks around the region and across the country to enjoy a few races and a flutter while some of the biggest events each year are shown on television.
There was formerly a track at Westhoughton but it closed in 2012.