The turn of the new year provides a clean slate for greyhound racing trainers and fans alike. The form guide is essentially reset as we gear up for another year of exciting racing action. Last year was difficult for obvious reasons, with the coronavirus pandemic meaning the majority of races at the start of the year were forced behind closed doors, meaning the small, but dedicated set of spectators who regularly attend the biggest events were unable to get their racing fix.
However, with fans back in the stands for the latter stages of the year and plenty of results that surprised even the best greyhound betting sites, the new year certainly looks to promise a lot. With that in mind, we thought we’d run through some of the most important dates for races, and provide some information on the days to ring off on your calendar.
Valley Racing Wales
The Valley Greyhound Stadium is Wales’s last remaining greyhound racing track. With racing every Saturday evening – and around a hundred greyhounds on the strength at any time – it is still one of the greatest, and cheapest, family fun nights out in the South Wales valleys.
English Greyhound Derby
Regarded as the most prestigious race on the entire British greyhound calendar, the English Greyhound Derby attracts the sport’s biggest audience and garners the biggest prize money — with the winner racking up a whopping £100,000. The 500-metre race, which is now back to being held at Towcester in Northamptonshire after two years in Nottingham due to stadium renovations, is certainly an exciting prospect, with the country’s best trainers competing against each other for the ultimate bragging rights.
The competition runs throughout the summer, with the final coming at the start of July. Last year, Belgian trainer Patrick Janssens guided Thorn Falcon to victory, finishing with an impressive time of 29.06 seconds, as he clinched victory in a competitive final against favourite Kilara Lion, also trained by Janson.
East Anglian Cup
The East Anglian Cup, or East Anglian Derby, is a yearly tradition treasured dearly by those at Yarmouth Stadium. A quintessential part of their calendar, the 462-metre race comes with a £15,000 prize for the winner, and with the Sandy conditions often playing a decisive part in who comes out on top, there is always the possibility of a shock on the cards.
Antigua Storm is the most recent champion in Yarmouth, finishing with a time of 27.78 seconds, although that pales in comparison to the record time set by the Hazel Kemp-trained Any Dak in 2013, setting a competition record with 27.34 seconds.
Irish Greyhound Derby
Over to Irish shores now, as we look at a race with such a rich history, dating back to the 1920s — the Irish Greyhound Derby. Hosted at Shelbourne Park in South Dublin, the race takes place over 550 yards, with a €125,000 prize for the winner. Previous victors include Ballyanne Sim, Newinn Taylor and most recently the Owen Mckenna trained Susie Sapphire.
Back to Nottingham now where we take a look at the Select Stakes, the race that builds all the hype for the spring with the final usually held at the start of April. Originally ran at Wembley Stadium, the race made the move to the Midlands in 1996, and considering the new found popularity for greyhounds in that part of the country, the moved certainly seems for the best.
We have seen a plethora of talented greyhounds take home the £7,500-winning prize purse, and plenty of competitive races over the years with back-to-back dead heats in 2013 a rare occurrence.