Pharaoh hounds may participate in two different amateur racing activities in the USA.
One is straight racing in which sighthounds sprint in a race for 200 yards on a straight, flat track. This is Large Gazehound Racing Association or LGRA racing.
The second is oval racing in which sighthounds race a set distance on an oval track. The distances for the oval tracks may vary from club to club. The distances range from 241 yards - 440 yards. This is National Oval Track Racing Association or NOTRA racing.
LGRA or NOTRA Eligibility for Pharaoh Hounds Hounds must be 1 year of age or older on the day of the race meet and must be a purebred Pharaoh hound. There are no breed disqualifications for racing. Please check with your breeder before you start racing your hound as each dog matures at a different rate. Safety of your dog is paramount in all activities that you pursue with your hounds.
What happens at a race meet? In both LGRA and NOTRA, a race meet consists of 3 programs. Within each program are the individual races such that each dog will race a total of 3 times. Hounds are first separated by breed, each breed runs only against hounds in that breed. Hounds are then separated by racing experience (or grade) in that venue. The grade is based upon the hound’s previous racing experience in that venue. This just means that the faster dogs run against the faster dogs. Hounds that have never raced before are referred to as “First Time Entered” hounds or “FTEs” and they are started in the first program in the slower hounds race. For a breed to compete at a meet, there is a minimum of 2 starters (entries), so make sure your breed buddies bring a dog for yours to run against. All dogs must run with properly fitted muzzles and numbered race blankets. Dogs are released from racing boxes or hand-slipped, depending on the club and equipment available. The hounds chase a drag lure from start to finish. The drag lure consists of a white plastic bag on a line attached to a motorized wheel, very similar to lure coursing. LGRA also uses a jack-a-lure which is a pelt covered squawker. Judges are present at the finish line and record the race finish. Scores are earned with each race depending on the finish with the faster dogs getting the higher scores. After each race, the dogs within each breed are regrouped based on points earned so that the faster dogs are running with the faster dogs. At the end of all three races the points are tallied up and placements and points are awarded.
LGRA and NOTRA Racing Titles Hounds may earn points toward a Racing Champion title in each venue. The points awarded are based on the number of entries for that meet and the placements of the hounds after the completion of the third program.
For LGRA, a hound may earn the Gazehound Racing Champion (GRC) Title by earning 12 GRC points. For NOTRA, a hound may earn the Oval Racing Champion (ORC) Title by earning 12 ORC points. Both venues also have a more advanced title of Superior Gazehound Racing Champion (SGRC) or Superior Oval Racing Champion (SORC).
Hound can also earn intermediate titles in NOTRA. These titles are a participation title much like the JC, SC and MC in AKC coursing. In NOTRA, a hound that completes all races in 4 meets may earn the Junior Oval Racer (JOR) title. The title of Senior Oval Racer (SOR) is awarded to the hound that finishes in the top half of the dogs that completed all races in 6 meets.
Canadian Amateur Racing Association (CARA) Our Canadian neighbors also have straight and oval racing.
Training The most important item that must be taught to your Pharaoh hound is the reliable recall. No Pharaoh hound (or dog for that matter) should be allowed to participate in any event without a reliable recall. The recall is the one command that can truly save your dogs life. (See recall games) In addition to the recall, three things need to be taught to your Pharaoh hound for racing:
Bunny training - this can start with puppy training. A plastic bag on a lunge line is a lovely tool to encourage the chasing and catching of the bunny. Some racing/coursing clubs will allow pups to do puppy runs. These are generally straight short runs in which the pup chasing the plastic bunny or the jack a lure for fun. Praise for chasing, pouncing and "killing" the bunny is very important.
Muzzle training - all dogs must wear a racing muzzle. There are various types. The muzzle must allow adequate air flow for the dog. Having your dog wear the muzzle and get used to it before it attends its first meet is always a good thing.
Racing box training - most clubs have the dogs begin each race from a racing box, so your dogs must be trained to go into the racing box. Box training should be viewed as having a party with lots of treats and the biggest of all jackpots - "killing the jack-a-lure". Here's how I trained Phlirt and her puppies as well as many other sighthounds too). Now when we go racing it is very easy to load then into the box. By training the dog using this method, it avoids the method that I see a lot of folks do - forcing the dog into the box and hope for the best - this is a disastrous method and only scares the dog possibly into disliking racing. For my Pharaohs, when they see the back of the box open, I have to be sure I am completely ready to load them, otherwise, they shoot into the rear of the box and I get dragged in and my arms get pulled severely. When my Pharaohs see the box, they get very excited as they know it is bunnytime!! Now for the process. This should be started in puppyhood but this will work for all aged dogs as long as they have keen interest in the jack-a-lure or bunny. Dogs WITHOUT interest in the lure should not be box trained until they are crazed about the bunny.
Step 1: Go to a box with at least two people and lots of treats. The box is open at both ends. The dog on a leash has the leash thrown through the box (from the rear of the box) to a second person on the front side of the box. The front of the box person grabs the leash and entices the dog through the box with the jack-a-lure, treats, praise, etc. Do NOT pull the dog through the box. After going through the box the dog should be lavishly praised and given lots of treats. Then the dog is walked around to the back of the box again and the dog is walked through the box over and over again. Soon the dog is rushing through the box, knowing the big payoff of treats. Remember the treats and praising needs to be phabulous. This first step may take a while and it should not be rushed. It may take multiple visits to box training before proceeding to the next step. Step 2: Now, the front of the box is put down (not all the way), with the front person's foot on it. Same process as above, with putting the dog into the rear of the box and then allow the front to open. I use treats here also, but I really try to encourage the dog through with the jack-a-lure. This next step may take a while and it should not be rushed. It may take multiple visits to box training before proceeding to the next step Step 3: Once the dog is introduced to the quiet rise of the front door, the next step is to slip the back panel closed behind the dog. Again the front of the box is put down (not all the way), with the front person's foot on it. The dog is enticed into the box with the back closed. The jack-a-lure is moved and squawked then the front is allowed to go up and the dog comes out and pounces on the "bunny". Lots of praise, treats, etc should be used here too. This next step may take a while and it should not be rushed. It may take multiple visits to box training before proceeding to the next step. Step 4: The final step is closing the front of the box all the way. Entice the dog into the rear of the box and close the rear of the box. The jack-a-lure is moved and squawked then the front is allowed to go up and the dog comes out and pounces on the "bunny". Lots of praise, treats, etc should be used here too. After a few times of pouncing on the "bunny", have the lure operator move the jack-a-lure down the track, so the dog understands he is supposed to chase it. This last step may take a while and it should not be rushed. It may take multiple visits to box training before your dog figures this all out.
How do you find out more about racing? Each racing activity has its own website. Information about LGRA and information about NOTRA. Canadians also have their own racing venues. Information about Canadian racing can be found onwww.CARA.reach.net . As an avid racing enthusiast in the USA and Canada, I’d be glad to provide you with additional racing information if you would like to contact me.