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Exploring the UK’s Greyhound Derby Venues Throughout the Years

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greyhound, Exploring the UK's Greyhound Derby Venues Throughout the Years

English Greyhound Derby racing is the biggest and most prestigious race in the entirety of the sport. Its rich history dates back to the 1920s, and even to this day, punters rush down to their local bookmakers, or log into their online betting accounts, just to place a greyhound bet on the 500-metre race each and every year.

However, whilst the Greyhound Derby has survived the test of time, it hasn’t always been plain sailing for the race’s organizers. With the rapid fall in popularity of going to a night at the dogs, and the subsequent closure of a large portion of the United Kingdom’s tracks, has meant that the Derby has had be rehomed on several occasions.

That said, with the race making its return to Towcester earlier this month, let’s take a look at the venues which have played host to the Greyhound Derby through the years. Read on to find out more

Towcester – 2017-18, 2021-present

Where better to start than with its current home, Towcester. The scenic venue, which is located between Milton Keynes and Northampton, first held the Greyhound Derby in 2017, with the Seamus Cahill-trained Astute Missile upsetting the odds to win from 28/1. The 2018 edition was won by Towcester’s own Dorotas Wildcat.

However, the venue then went into administration, and it was confirmed that Nottingham would be the new host. Thankfully, Towcester has been saved by new owners, and the race returned to the track this year, with Thorn Falcon, trained in Towcester by Patrick Janssens, denying Deerjet Sydney back-to-back victories.

Nottingham – 2019-20

Nottingham’s hosting duties may have been cut short by the reopening of Towcester, but there were still two editions for the history books. The track was certainly a happy hunting ground for the Irish, as Paul Hennessy and Pat Buckley, both from the emerald isle, won the two renewals, with Priceless Blake and the aforementioned Deerjet Sydney respectively.

Wimbledon – 1985-2016

For over 30 years, the Greyhound Derby was hosted at Wimbledon Stadium. Pagan Swallow, trained in SW19 by Philip Reeds Jr, won the first renewal at the stadium back in 1985 and only one other Wimbledon-trained dog was triumphant over the next three decades — Ballinderry Ash (1991).

In 2000-01, the famous Rapid Ranger became the first dog to win successive Derbys at Wimbledon. However, his record was quickly matched by Westmead Hawk, who completed a famous double in 2005-06. Unfortunately, with attendances dropping, Wimbledon Stadium was closed in 2016 and has since been demolished to make way for 600 new flats and a new stadium for AFC Wimbledon.

White City Stadium – 1927-84

The iconic White City Stadium, which was originally constructed for the 1908 Summer Olympics, held the Greyhound Derby from its inaugural race in 1927, which was won by Entry Badge, right up until it sadly shut its doors to be demolished in 1984.

In 1929-30, Mick the Miller became the first greyhound to win the Derby back-to-back, and it wasn’t until the early 1970s that another dog matched his record, when Patricias Hope won successive races in 1972 and 1973. Whisper Wishes was the last greyhound to win a Derby at White City Stadium in 1984.

In 1940, the Greyhound Derby took place Harringay Stadium as White City was closed due to World War II. The race was won by GR Archduke. Following the Charlie Ashley-trained dog’s victory, there wasn’t another renewal of the Derby until 1945, when it returned to White City following the end of the war.

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