This year’s Waterloo Cup has been heralded a “great success” by organisers and spectators alike.
Record crowds braved the cold weather to see an Irish dog take the cup. Why You Monty, trained by Michael O’Donovan, won six courses across the three-day meeting to take home the most prestigious prize of the British coursing calendar.
The Waterloo Cup has been run at Altcar estate near Formby, Merseyside, since 1836. It was established by William Lynn, who originally ran the meeting in tandem with his steeplechase at nearby Aintree – a race that was later dubbed the Grand National.
Greyhounds from all over Britain and Ireland gathered at the event. The aim is for two greyhounds to compete against each other in a test of speed, determination and agility in pursuit of live hares.
The event has provoked outrage from critics, who say hare-coursing will be banned by the end of next February if the current Hunting Bill is granted Royal assent this November. Approximately 150 protestors turned up at the start of the event on Tuesday, including local Labour MP Colin Pickthall.
The Waterloo Cup’s local paper, the Formby Times, ran a poll in the week preceding the event, which found overwhelming support for the historical meeting. Only 37% of readers voted in favour of a ban.
Charles Blanning, secretary of the National Coursing Club, was delighted by the success of this year’s event, and was upbeat about the future of the cup.
Mr Blanning told HHO: “The prospects for the Waterloo Cup continuing are excellent. At the moment, we are adopting a wait-and-see policy as, so far, there have been only rumours about the re-introduction of the Hunting Bill, which covers coursing as well.
“I was thrilled by the number of spectators at this year’s cup, and as always, the speed and skill of the dogs was a delight to watch.”
Liz Mort, coursing spokesman for the Countryside Alliance, described the atmosphere at the event as “fantastic”, and stressed the valuable contribution coursing makes to the conservation of the brown hare.
She says: “In areas where coursing takes place, hares are flourishing, as the Government’s own Hunting Inquiry has confirmed.”
Ex-footballer Vinnie Jones and Clarissa Dickson-Wright, of Two Fat Ladies fame, had dogs competing for the cup, although both were knocked out of the event in the first round.