Sunday was of course Mother’s Day, and what better way to spend it than at Hove Greyhound Stadium, watching what appeared to be the offspring of an ungodly union between a yeti and a dish mop. Entry to the lunchtime races is always free on a Sunday, and this weekend was no exception, but what marked this day out from the usual twelve race card was the addition of ‘The Mother’s Day Afghan Trophy’, a one-lap race for Afghan Hounds.
Prince Harry can only dream of spending the day with a bunch of Afghans, but for me and my girlfriend it was the perfect afternoon out. Sadly my mother couldn’t make it, but she lives in Essex, so in a sense she’s already gone to the dogs.
The build-up to the arrival of the A-Team (that’s A for Afghan) included a dozen standard greyhound races, featuring dogs with names such as Wigwam Woman, Buzz Lightyear and Fizzy Nectar, plus owners like The Maroon Baboons and the Group Hug Syndicate. The grandstand was packed with mothers and their families, all of whom seemed to be having a lot more luck than I was, so having lost my cheap charity shop shirt on the first twelve races, I made my way outside for the main event on the card: The 2008 Mother’s Day Afghan Trophy. Which really ought to be sponsored by the Taliban, but isn’t.
I must admit, we'd been standing by the track for ages, looking to the left for signs of dog hair flapping in the breeze, only to realise at the last moment that the Afghans were approaching from the other direction, and were, in fact, right behind us. The way they creep up on you, it's no wonder Harry wasn't safe.
But before we knew it, the robot rabbit was released, and six hairy hounds began lolloping around the track after a day-glo bunny. I haven't laughed so much in years. And I'm still not sure how they managed to stuff them all into the starting traps - one of them was the size of a horse. Well, a Shetland Pony. In a wig.
The eventual winner was an Afghan named India, but for me the star of the show was Zak. He was described on the race card as “always consistent and guaranteed to finish”. Unfortunately Zak hadn’t read the race card, and having gone halfway around the track in last place, he decided to give up, hop over the fence, and start frolicking about on the grass, waiting for someone to throw him a stick. Not quite the model of consistency we were promised.
You have to admire his tactics though. Having sat out most of the contest on the other side of the stadium, acting like he was down the park on a Sunday afternoon, the race eventually finished and the rabbit came back around to where Zak was standing. At which point he jumped on it. I see that as a moral victory. The judges saw it as more of a disqualification. It's all a matter of opinion.
Ultimately though, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Afghan Racing first-hand. The whole event was top quality entertainment, and the funniest thing I've seen outside of an episode of You've Been Framed. Bring on the camel racing for Father’s Day, that’s what I say.