It all began with a group of friends dining one evening at an unpretentious hotel in Liverpool called "The Waterloo". They were all either greyhound owners or enthusiasts and in 1825 they used the venue as a meeting place to form the now famous Altcar Coursing Club.
Mr Lynn, the proprietor of the hotel and also a greyhound devotee, watched the club's members grow over the years before offering a suggestion that would become one of the biggest happenings in the coursing calendar of today.
In 1836 Mr Lynn proposed that a sweepstake for eight greyhounds should be run and he offered a cup of sovereigns as the prize. Viscount Molyneux, son of the Earl of Sefton, was approached with the idea and he suggested using the grounds of the Altcar Club for the event. It turned out to be a hugely successful meeting and it was immediately suggested that it should be a yearly occurrence open to the general public. The prize would be increased to £16 with the addition of a silver snuff box and the number of competitors raised to sixteen.
The event (named after the hotel) was now officially called the Waterloo Cup, and its popularity went from strength to strength. The limit was increased to thirty-two greyhounds and again raised many years later to sixty-four. For maximum impact it was decided to hold the competition during Liverpool's Grand National horseracing week - a shrewd move which made it a premier attraction by itself. Sporting people would travel hundreds of miles to witness what was to become the ultimate test of the coursing dog.
Copyright © Michael Maguire 2000. Website: www.greyhounds.bz
First published in Greyhound Monthly (UK)
Author: Michael Maguire