NEWTON ABBOT 2002
Angela Moore (1970 – )
- 30 x 40 cm
- C-TYPE PHOTOGRAPH ON ALUMINIUM
- Accession number
Rabbit is a photo-documentary of the mechanical hares used at greyhound tracks and flapping tracks of England. These images were shot over a six month period.
The popular British sport of greyhound racing evolved into its current form with the advent of the mechanical hare into Britain around 1927. The first mechanical hare was invented in America in 1912 by Owen Patrick Smith, in response to antiblood sports lobbyists. In the early stages he held coursing events using a dummy hare. Initially he used a stuffed rabbit attached by a rope to the back of a motor bike but fourteen years later, a truly mechanical hare was developed which was carried along a rail on board a mechanical trolley.
The idea of greyhounds chasing a synthetic hare was not overly popular until bookmakers started operating on the tracks.
I became interested in this subject once I learnt of the diversity of hares used in Greyhound racing. The lack of bureaucracy and guidelines within the sport allowed the ingenuity and imagination of the organisers to flourish. Flapping tracks in particular tend to customise their hares and have been known to use bandages wrapped around a block of wood to lure the dogs around the track.
These pictures set out to illustrate the variety of ad hoc forms that are used in greyhound racing. Some are still identifiable to a hare, some high-tech, whilst others are just a jumble of rotting newspaper or an old shower curtain.
The different levels of investment in the more professional scene and the smaller flapping tracks is evident through the hares used. Standardisation has crept into the bigger race tracks in the form of the Swaffham Hare. This rip-stock nylon wind-sock — self-inflating when in motion — is unsentimentally ‘progressive’ and has replaced the more realistic hare the ‘McGee’. With this new designer hare the need to get-by-and-make-do is diminished, as is any lingering notion that greyhounds are attracted by soft fur and large ears.