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Born to run

Photographer Toby Dixon gets up close and personal with an assortment of punters, owners, trainers and dogs flocking to Wentworth Park every week.

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Born to run

The ‘Wenty Dogs’ have been a Sydney institution since their first appearance in 1932. While other sports came and went at the complex the ‘dish lickers’ have held on as a permanent fixture, with an assortment of punters, owners, trainers and dogs flocking to Wentworth Park every week. Photographer Toby Dixon was intrigued as to what motivated these characters of the track and spent a few months getting up close and personal for his series The Lure.

Working through the series I’m transfixed by the intensity of ‘Boss Number One’. It’s understandable really, this hound would have spent the few minutes before this photograph was taken chasing a tin hare or ‘lure’ at a lazy 70km around the track. While I don’t find out from Toby whether Boss won or lost his race, the emotion captured in this shot is equal to the human counterparts in the series, and the result of a little magic. ‘Greyhounds move incredibly fast and to get their attention you usually only have one opportunity. I had to make sure everything was perfect before pressing the shutter… I had to shoot many dogs to end up with the final series.’

It was tough work convincing the folk of Wentworth Park to get involved. ‘There was a lot of ‘ice’ to break… It took a few weeks of getting to know everyone before they were willing to participate. Once you could show a few examples people really opened up and got into it but it was very difficult in the very beginning.’

The series was shot in a makeshift studio just outside the track and captures ‘a combination of relief, sorrow, fatigue, happiness, pride – the whole gamut of human and canine emotion.’ With Toby’s weekly sojourns it wasn’t long before he became a fixture at the park. ‘Every week I’d see nearly the same characters come back and every week we’d chat about how they did in the races… My knowledge of greyhound racing has increased exponentially since I began.’

Time spent at the dogs has since inspired Toby to take on a shoot for M&C Saatchi in aid of the Sydney Dogs and Cats Home. ‘I love dogs and all animals in general and it was for a great cause.’


All images courtesy of Toby Dixon
To see the complete series, visit Toby Dixon’ site
To hear Toby talking about his experience during the project, click here

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