INTRODUCTION TO WHIPPET RACING WITH BCWRC: Depending on field conditions and the weather, the BCWRC holds weekly sprint practices between February and November at the Model Airplane Park in Richmond located at 12851 Rice Mill Road which is just east of #5 Road and south of Steveston Highway. To get to the field, take Highway 99 to Exit 32: Steveston Highway WEST. Exit onto Steveston Highway and immediately get into left-hand turning lane. Turn left onto #5 Road and drive about 1/2 kilometer. Turn left onto Rice Mill Road, drive about 1/2 kilometer and you’ll see the field on your left. Drive into dirt carpark and park. There are no human toilet facilities at the field, but there’s a Starbucks and gas stations at the No.5 Road intersection.
Please be aware that we share the Richmond field with the Model Airplane Club. We’re not always using the field at the same time as the airplane folks, but when we overlap it’s imperative that people & dogs attending our race practices walk ONLY on our side of the field (the north side). We set up cones to divide the field. Note that we use the north side of the field, and the airplane club uses the south side. Dogs are not permitted under any circumstances to run off-leash at the field (except when they are racing).
As the Recording Secretary for the BCWRC, Beth Orson manages an email list for persons interested to attend our practices and race meets. Practices are usually held on weekends, most often on Sundays starting in the late morning or early afternoon depending on the time of year. To organize our practices Beth sends out an email to people on our practice list with a link to a Doodle poll inviting people to sign up; she also posts an announcement to the club’s FB page. Once we know how many people and dogs would attend the practice, we make a decision about whether or not to go ahead. We do not hold practices if it's raining. There is a $3 fee per dog per day to attend practices for non-club members. The annual fee for an individual club membership is $20; family membership is $25 and practices are free to club members. If you think you’ll be coming regularly to practices and would be interested to help out at race meets, please consider joining the club!
Below are the things we suggest that you bring with you to practice: 1) crate for your dog if you have one; 2) a bowl and water; 3) 2 leashes and a separate “catch” collar; 4) folding chair to sit on if you have one; 5) jacket for your dog if it's cold; 6) racing muzzle if you have one.
The club owns its own starting boxes which we bring to practice depending on the time of year and how many dogs/people will be in attendance. The boxes are heavy and have to be lifted off of and back onto the trailer on which they ride, so help is always appreciated. The BCWRC counts among its members a number of breeders who have owned and bred whippets for decades and have many years of combined experience in training whippets to chase a lure. Close attention is paid to the progress that every whippet makes at our practices, and club members are always happy to suggest ways to improve a dog's performance. Usually with patience and practice a whippet will enthusiastically chase the lure.
The BCWRC hosts three race meets a year: in May, June and August. Our meets are held under the auspices of two separate North American organizations: for straight racing: WRA (the Whippet Racing Association); for oval racing: NOTRA (National Oval Track Racing Association). We encourage you to visit both organizations’ websites to learn more about the rules governing straight and oval racing: www.whippetracing.org and www.notra.org
Your whippet’s first introduction to racing involves a hand-slip—one person releasing the dog just as the lure begins to move and someone else catching him/her after the lure has stopped. The distance the dog runs is shorter for puppies and untrained dogs. Whippets new to racing can also start walking through open boxes at practices to get them used to entering and exiting the enclosed space. (One person holds and release the pup at the box entrance and someone else catches the pup as s/he exits.) It shouldn’t take long for your puppy to learn that entering the boxes means s/he will get to chase the “bunny” down the field! With time and practice, the box door will eventually be closed behind your whippet, the front gate will open as soon as the lure moves, and out will come your whippet!
Once your dog has learned to focus solely on the lure, has been box-trained and been seen to chase the lure running “clean” with at least two other dogs, s/he would be deemed ready to enter a meet. Running clean means that your whippet is not interfering with or chasing another dog in his/her race. Race meets are a lot of fun for the dogs and their owners, and we hope that you will participate!
As in the show ring, titles are awarded to the highest achieving dogs at any race meet. The points system in racing can be a little complicated to understand in the beginning, but if you're interested to learn more about how racing whippets are graded and how the scoring process works, check out the rulebooks at the WRA and NOTRA websites. You can learn a lot by reading through the sections on the points system. Briefly, there are 4 programs of races in a straight race meet and either 3 or 4 in an oval meet depending upon the length of the track. Points are awarded to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers for each race; programs 2, 3 & 4 (if there is a fourth program that day) are arranged by the numbers of points earned by each whippet after each race has finished.
Straight races have a maximum of 6 dogs per race; ovals have 4 or 5. The races are run from slowest-graded to fastest-graded dogs within each of the four programs, with the final race, called "the high- point" race run last in every program. More points are actually awarded for that race than for the others, as the dogs participating are deemed to be the fastest of the day, and all dogs in the high-point race earn points for having finished the race. The dogs are graded based on a formula that averages their point accumulations for their most recent 3 race meets, with the most recent meet having the most influence on the grade.
The WRA and NOTRA rulebooks will tell you how many points a dog needs to earn to be graded A, B, C or D. At the end of the day, two sets of points are awarded to the highest-achieving dogs: Whippet Race Championship (WRCh) or Oval Racing Championship (ORC) points which go toward the title of Whippet Race Champion or Oval Racing Champion depending on if the race is a straight or oval, and National Points which go toward the title of Whippet Race Champion Excellent (WRChX) or Supreme Oval Racing Champion (SORC). The numbers of championship points a club can award at any meet is dependent upon the number of whippets entered in that particular meet. A whippet needs to earn 15 championship points to be awarded the title of WRCh in WRA or ORC in NOTRA. Males need to earn 50 National points to earn the supreme titles and females need to earn 30 National points for the supreme titles.
We hope this gives you at least an idea of how the system works. It's amazingly fair, and the rules are re-examined and tweaked every year. Any proposed changes to the rules must be voted on by the clubs that are members of either WRA or NOTRA.
If you would like your name to be added to our practice email list, please contact Beth Orson at email@example.com and/or make a request to join our FB page.