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Greyhound Racing

Coursing, as a sport where dogs followed their quarry by sight rather than by scent, together with hunting, was established by pastoralists and hotelkeepers in foundation Melbourne. Early clubs like Williamstown/Wyndham and Fitzroy/Collingwood predate the foundation in 1873 of the Victoria Coursing Club, which staged the first championship that year. In 1875 the Australian Coursing Club held its first championship at the Chirnside property at Werribee.

With closer settlement, interest moved to plumpton racing, named after the course near London where greyhounds raced in an enclosed wire-netting track. Proprietary courses owned by John Wren and the Cox family at Moonee Valley kept greyhound racing on the fixture list but it did not gain a permanent place in the racing industry until it became more accessible to betting and gambling. Although the introduction from the USA of the 'mechanical hare' in 1927 overcame the adverse publicity associated with the pursuit of live hares, the Victorian government, opposed to the extension of gambling, prohibited its use.

Greyhound racing survived at the Sandown Park Coursing Club and in 1956, when the government legalised the mechanical hare, abolished proprietary control of greyhound racing and formed the Greyhound Racing Control Board, the non-proprietary National Coursing Club (later Sandown Greyhound Racing Club) was created. It developed facilities at Sandown, refurbished in 1996. From the 1960s Olympic Park also hosted greyhound racing but was closed to make way for the CityLink tollway. A new racing facility, which hosts the running of the Australian Cup and the Top Gun Final, was opened at The Meadows at Broadmeadows in 1998.

June Senyard