For the uninitiated, these days a coursing stake in essence constitutes a group of greyhounds running off in pairs, chasing a drag lure up a 300 metres straight track. The losers drop out while the winners advance to the next round.
As far as lure coursing is concerned, little remains the same as back when coursing was conducted in open paddocks at SA venues stretching from Mintaro to Mount Gambier.
A person known as the slipper still uses a set of slips with two collars to release the dogs at the same time. And the contestants still wear either a knitted red or white collar with the judge raising a red or white flag to signify the winner of the course.
But that’s about where the similarities end.
Synonymous with coursing is the Waterloo Cup, first run in SA in 1884 when T. Pritchard’s Lady defeated Jubilee. Close to 140 years later, the event is still being conducted – 11 greyhounds yesterday contesting the cup at Virginia, 30 kilometres north of Adelaide.
But for all that, despite yesterday’s Waterloo Cup nominations being lower than many of those in past years, two trainers went to the slips for a fourth and last time, appreciating just how rewarding it had been to reach the final.
For the record, Peter Hamilton and Kim Armistead’s Stress The Point, trained at Lewiston by Nicole Price, defeated Gavin Bright’s Archie Vella, trained at Parafield Gardens by Steve Coates, in the $1500-to-the-winner final.
One Mount Gambier former trainer who still has fond memories of coursing at Virginia and the Waterloo Cup is Allen Williams who provided the winner and runner-up of the event in 1996.
“Back then it was a 32-dog stake and run over two days,” he said. “I had nominated a couple of white pups by Fox Hunt out of Hannah Bale and made the trip up there hoping they would be competitive.
“Well, they were more than competitive with Potential defeating Operator in the final. I have to say, that was quite possibly the biggest thrill I experienced in all my time involved in greyhound racing.”
And that’s coming from the trainer of Colville, winner of the 2013 Mount Gambier Cup at Tara Raceway.
How times have changed was highlighted in the 1977 Waterloo Cup official program, “obtainable from club officials on the ground at a cost of 50 cents”.
That year the cup was run over three days for 64 all-aged greyhounds in the open paddocks at Hartley, 60 kilometres south of Adelaide. Conducted by the South Australian Coursing Club on the Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of the week commencing July 4, this had been the 92nd running.
It was Gentle Martin (Haydale x Danyos Shan) and Artic Fox (Artic Light x Deneholme Kate) who made it through to the Thursday final. And it was judge Gordon Richter, officiating on horseback, who raised the red flag to signify Gentle Martin had won the 1977 Waterloo Cup.
Nominators R. Stone, J. Oehme and R. Cleggett received $600, together with a silver replica of the Flannagan Trophy, a half case of whisky (donated by Dewar & Son) and a trophy donated by Drew McFarlane who had won the cup in 1976 with Invercoe Snow.
Going back to 1952 and the Waterloo Cup was won by Magic Box for Glen Schurgott who had also bred the son of Norm and Blue Kerry. In 1970, as a forerunner to Angle Park, Schurgott won the Adelaide Cup with Roman Holiday at Bolivar where non-betting meetings were conducted.
Today, the Schurgott name is also associated with greyhound racing in the south-east through his great-nephew Ross Schurgott’s involvement with the Nineofus Syndicate and David Peckham’s Bourne Kennels at Allendale East.