Punters who didn't see the last race at Hove today could have been forgiven for branding accounts of the event as shaggy dog stories.

But the six Afghan hounds who sprang out of the traps at Brighton and Hove Greyhound Stadium proved every bit as game as their fleeter-footed cousins.

The pedigree pooches – whose trademark long hair is more commonly seen at shows like Crufts – completed a lap in front of 200 cheering spectators at the famous track.

The event was held to raise money for Sue Ryder Care – but money changed hands just like any normal race.

The races – which take place occasionally throughout the year at tracks including Hove, Romford and Sittingbourne – were the brainchild of Afghan hound owners Tony and Hilary Murphy.

They founded Brands Hatch Racing, an owners' club run to exercise the dogs safely.

As 'sighthounds' – bred originally to hunt gazelles in the mountainous wastes of Afghanistan – they have a tendency to bolt at the slightest whim and have a cat-like tendency to resist owners' pleas to bring them back to heel.

The Murphys began holding the meetings to help other owners who ran the risk of losing their beloved pets in parks and open spaces.

Committee member Bob Parsons, who organised the race, said: “They are renowned for not coming back.

“They are nowhere near as fast as a greyhound but they are just as keen.

“They are like greyhounds with long hair.”

Lizzie, the winner of today's race, romped home in style, with just two hundredths of a second separating second and third-placed animals Dusty and Morse.

Afterwards many of the 200-strong crowd who stayed to watch the race came down to make a fuss of the dogs at trackside.

Mr Parsons said: “There were still quite a few people around at the end.

“They came over to stroke the dogs.

“They are pets first, before anything else.”