A KIRKCALDY family is gearing up for the biggest event on the dog racing calendar – the Scottish Whippet Derby – which takes place next month.
Arthur Cook of the town’s Beatty Crescent, along with wife Linda and sons Archie and Christopher have lived and breathed the annual event which hits the town every July, for more than two decades.
Arthur is secretary of the Kirkcaldy and District Whippet Racing Club, the only remaining Scottish Club.
The Kirkcaldy based club hosts the annual Scottish Derby, an event which will see more than 150 whippets descend on the Lang Toun to participate in races over two weeks, culminating in the big Derby Race on Sunday, July 28.
The Scottish Derby is the most keenly contested competition in Britain as it attracts the biggest sponsorship money, with a top prize of £400, compared to the English Derby which only boasts a £100 prize.
And Arthur (63), says that with Kirkcaldy having the last remaining whippet racing track from an original eight around Scotland, he is keen to keep the event running.
“We are very lucky with our sponsorship and the support we get every year from Fife Council. Without them allowing us to use the Randolph playing fields, we wouldn’t be able to have an event at all,” said Arthur.
“We are also very grateful to the Top O’ The Toun pub which has been very generous over the years.”
For the past two years a midweek race, the Kingdom of Fife Charity Open, has been held in aid of Scottish Autism’s outreach services which are based at Pitreavie business park in Dunfermline.
Arthur and Linda’s son Christopher has autism and has been helped throughout his life by the charity, which they wanted to give something back to.
Half the proceeds from the entry fee, along with proceeds from a fundraising race night and barbecue at Top O’The Toun, will all go to the charity.
Other sponsors for this year’s event include Drummond Motor Company and Haig’s Haulage and Caravan Park, all of which enable the Kirkcaldy club to put up good prize money for the various races.
The winner of the Derby final on July 28 stands to receive a top prize of £400, with each of the class winners receiving a specially designed jacket made by Alison Armstrong.
Among the dogs racing at the event will be Arthur’s own whippets, Ty (5½) and Patch (3½), both which have been family pets since they were just eight weeks old.
“We all love the whippet racing. It’s in our blood and my dad was involved before we were. It’s a great event and it’s great for Kirkcaldy as it brings people from all over the UK here, so we are determined to keep it going,” said Arthur.