The WCRA Championships
The coveted title Whippet Club Racing Champion (WCRCh) is awarded to those whippets that win a Championship weight group on two occasions. It was felt that chance could play a part in a single group win but is unlikely to feature in two group wins.
Central Venue or at Club’s Tracks for the Championships?
There has always been a debate as to whether the Championship race meetings should be held at a neutral track or at the tried and tested tracks used by an affiliated or other clubs. The benefits of the latter are that it was unnecessary to transport the track equipment and holding the Championship on a club’s home track would possibly attract more entries from the club’s members, as they may not necessarily travel to other venues. The benefit of holding the event at a neutral track is that there is no perceived advantage of any local runner’s ‘track knowledge’, and the apparent view that the venue was special and only used for the Championships. During the initial years the format of the race meetings were constantly analysed and altered. The main aim was to evenly distribute the numbers entered into each weight group.
Initially the Championship groups were in three-pound (3lb) partitions, starting at a group whose limit was seventeen pounds (17lbs) and up to the group with a maximum of a thirty pounds (30lbs) limit. Some owners suggested that this three-pound difference was too great; most of the clubs had upper limits of thirty-two pounds and had tried various handicaps and group limit alternatives. But eventually it was agreed that the groups should be standardised and consistent. This would not only assist owners to plan their breeding programmes but help with safety issues associated with handicap starts and bigger whippets finishing behind much smaller whippets as they slid into the lure at the end of a race. From the founding of the WCRA it had been felt that scratch racing (no handicap) was a fairer system for the Championship Races and the upper limit of 30lbs was maintained until 1998 when the 32lb group was introduced.
In 2000 a WCRA questionnaire obtained the wishes of those owners who took time to complete the form on their preferences for the venues for their Championships. The result was that the majority felt that Moreton in Marsh should be the central permanent venue. A problem in 2002 at Church Gresley resulted in a bend Championship being moved in both date and venue from the neutral Derbyshire track to the East Anglian’s home track at Newmarket. However, from the middle of 2003 until the end of 2014 the WCRA Championships were all run at the neutral venue of Moreton in Marsh in Gloucestershire.
Championship Race Meetings
The Second 1970 meeting was run in conjunction with the Dog Fair at Ascot and was not strictly advertised as a Championship meeting, but it was to the Association’s rules and run by the committee. This meeting was the first race meeting that was run to the successful and now familiar even two-pound weight groups between 16lbs and 30lbs. Worth noting is the unique fact that all the weight group winners at this second meeting did not go on to win another final.
It is a requirement for owners to pre-enter their whippets by completing an entry form and posting it with the entry fee, as indicated on the form by the closing date, which is generally three week before the event. There was an exception to this in 1972 when it was agreed to experiment with the system of the entry so that owners could enter their whippets for the second Championship on the morning of the event. It was felt that this would attract a greater entry. However, this caused a great deal of work with the draw of runners and traps for the programme before the first race. It was decided that this experiment was not successful and it has not been repeated.
The format was revised further for the 1973 season; it saw the introduction of the four events per seasonal format. Also the odd two-poundage weight group format was tried. It was agreed to revert to the even two-poundage groups for the 1974 season. The exception to the four-event format was seen in 1983 when a fifth Championship was added and in 2001 when a country wide outbreak of Foot & Mouth Disease cause the cancellation of the first championships. The extra 1983 race meeting had been agreed to allow the Association to gain the extra revenue necessary to purchase additional equipment that would make it self-sufficient and independent from the affiliated clubs.
In 1984 Veteran Crown races for older whippets were started. The results of these races and details of how they where organised can be found also on this site. Although an upper limit of 32lbs was considered at the instigation of the WCRA it was not until 1998 that an additional group was added to the Championship format. From this year the format was to have the nine weight groups (16lbs – 32lbs) and the upper limits in the Veteran Crown races were also increased to 32lbs.