This section is from the book "A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland. (Sporting Division)", by Rawdon Briggs Lee. Also available from Amazon: A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland: Sporting Division.
The pedigree of the greyhound has for many years had considerable attention. The National Coursing Club, established in 1858, rules all matters appertaining thereto; and no dog can win a prize at any coursing meeting that has not been duly registered in the "Greyhound Stud Book," which costs a few shillings only, and those of "unknown pedigree" cannot compete at all.
The Council of the National Coursing Club is decided by election, those minor clubs with over twenty members each having the privilege of being represented in what may be called the coursing parliament. In 1895-6 there were forty-one members of the council.
Although a well-known coursing authority, named Thacker, started a coursing calendar about 1840-1, the present calendar was not commenced until 1857, "Stonehenge" being its first editor, and succeeding him, and until 1891, "Robin Hood" (Mr. C. M.
Browne) "occupied the chair." At his death the duty devolved upon Mr. B. C. Evelegh. of the Field, writing as "Allan-a-dale." The first keeper of the "Greyhound Stud Book" was Mr. D. Brown, well known as "Maida" in the columns of Belt's Life and the Field for many years. During eleven years Mr. Brown most ably conducted the registration affairs of the National Coursing Club, and his retirement, on the grounds of ill-health, is a distinct loss to the "Stud Book." Mr. W. F. Lamonby, also on the coursing staff of the Field, is, as I write, keeper of the "Greyhound Stud Book." For a great many years Mr. Lamonby has been, and still is, well known by his contributions written over the name of "Skiddaw."
The recent publication of the Coursing Calendar contained reports and particulars of fifty - nine meetings for the season 1894-5. From this the extent of the sport may be judged, though some years ago its popularity appeared to be seriously threatened by legislation that gave a tenant the peculiar privilege to kill ground game on the land he farmed, irrespective of agreement to the contrary with his landlord. Though hares are scarcer in some parts than they were, the sport has not, in reality, suffered very much, nor with the support it receives on all hands, is it likely to do so in the near future.
And more recent legislation, affording hares a certain close time, during which they are not to be sold, may be the means of reviving some meetings that had already become defunct.
The greyhound as a "show dog" is a failure, rather than otherwise. With few exceptions, the best animals in the field have not possessed that beautiful shape and elegance of contour that is attractive in the ring. Master McGrath was as ugly a dog to look at, from this point of view, as could be imagined; Fullerton is better, but his appearance is by no means taking. Mr. J. H. Salter has had one or two good dogs in the field that could win on the bench, though Mr. T. Ashton's Jenny Jones was, perhaps, the most notable exception to the general rule, she having been so consistent a performer as to be heavily backed for the Waterloo Cup of 1888. This, however, she failed to win, though running into the last four, when she was beaten by Herschel, a dog of great reputation in the field, and, later, at stud. As a bench bitch she was about as good as anything of her day, which has been proved under many good judges. She died in 1894. In December, 1891, Mr. H. T. Clarke, of Abingdon, made what I fancy is a record, for his black dog, Carhampton, then over three years old, won second prize at Birmingham show, and the following week ran through a nine-dog stake at the Cliffe Coursing Meeting. A most unusual occurrence, for a greyhound in condition to run is not in a fit state to compete successfully on the show bench. Another "bench winner" and good performer was Mr. H. C. While's Maney Starlight, who was first at Birmingham in 1894-5, and won a stake at Newport, Salop, early in 1896. Her sister Scandia was also a good-looking bitch, and clever likewise, she taking part in the Waterloo Cup in 1895.
Bab at the Bowster was handsome enough for exhibitions - very much the stamp of Jenny Jones, - and Lauderdale, who for a long time, when shown by Mr. T. Sharpies, was perfection in shape and form, and a fast dog too, but it was said, "his heart was in the wrong place." The best show of greyhounds is usually to be seen at Darlington at the end of July, and the committee there have usually a "coursing" man to judge them.
Allusion has been made to Fullerton competing in the Waterloo Cup in his fifth season. Another old runner is Mr. J. McConnochie's Maut, who, when seven years old, ran a capital course at the Mid-Annandale Meeting in October, 1896, being unfortunate in being beaten in the second round through the hare favouring her opponent. As a rule a dog in his second season is at his best, and it is exceptional to find one running on with any great degree of success until his fourth season.
At the present time, the spring of 1897, there are a number of particularly strong kennels of greyhounds, and none more so than that of Messrs G. F. and C. J. F. Fawcett, of Lancashire, who, during the past few years, have been peculiarly successful - as a rule with dogs of their own breeding. In 1895 they ran second in the Waterloo Cup with Fortuna Favente, Mr. Pilkington's Thoughtless Beauty being the winner; but the following year they won the trophy outright with Fabulous Fortune. In 1891 the same kennel ran up with Faster and Faster, and achieved a similar position in 1892 with Fitz Fife. In addition, they have won at all the leading meetings, and are likely for some time to come to hold a leading hand in the sport of coursing.