Love the dogs' eh? We'll see. Having never gambled in our lives before, a group and friends and I decided to see what all the fuss was about - by spending one Friday evening at London's last great dog track.
There seems to be a degree of scepticism about dog racing these days. Can it last? Is it on its way out? Are the dogs treated fairly? Is it - in this current climate of austerity - a bit of a waste of money? All of these questions were asked as we headed over to Wimbledon one Friday night and the answers seemed inconclusive. But we had found a good online deal so thought we'd try something different and give it a go.
Arriving early evening we munched on burgers, drank beer and tried to make sense of the odds. The helpful whispers we'd been given were to bet on the middle dogs or 'traps' (six dogs run in each race). Failing that, pick a dog with a funny name.
It soon transpired that the initial wins of two pounds here and a tenner there weren't going to last. It seemed like the wins were completely random, although I'm sure seasoned experts would disagree. The dogs themselves seemed fine and there were medal ceremonies throughout which helped a bit to ease our post Olympic blues.
The stands were full of families, couples and groups of friends and the atmosphere was fun, warm and excited. It quickly became apparent that losses weren't going to put people off and we stayed until the end, merry and amiable despite the decreasing pennies in our pockets. Luckily, we'd pretty much stuck to the minimum bets – around £2 – so we weren't losing masses.
I'd all but given up hope of winning back the twenty quid I'd slowly but steadily lost until I snuck off just before the last race and placed my remaining fiver on the dog with the worst odds. Of course, it only went and won, didn't it? I left, jubilant and happy albeit slightly worried that this would be the start of my descent into the world of gambling.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. It was fun, light-hearted and a different way to spend a Friday night; a night which is so frequently dedicated to the pub. From the amount of families and people that knew each other it was clear that this was a weekly event for lots of the crowd. Yes the drinks were expensive and it's slightly out of the way but for a night with a difference, Wimbledon Track is probably worth your pennies. But if you do win, just don't spend it all at once.