The greyhound racing year got underway this month and, while the finals of the Christmas Oaks and Shelbourne Open 600 were technically part of last year’s calendar, they provided the perfect start to 2021 with both competitions won in tremendous fashion.
Things got back to a more sedate pace last weekend with very little to really sink the teeth into but it won’t be long before the pace starts to pick up again. The Gold Cup is the traditional curtain raiser to the year’s top-grade racing and it is due to start this weekend.
It’s worth remembering that last year’s decider provided one of the best line-ups for a major decider in the past decade. The contest was won by Ballymac Anton, but there were a number of superstars behind him including Skywalker Logan, Grangeview Ten, Run Happy and Ballymac Inspeed.
Of course, Ballymac Anton set the tone for what was to be an incredible year on the track. Many of those that took headlines in the past twelve months have sadly been retired including the likes of the aforementioned Ballymac Anton, Pestana, Newinn Taylor, Lenson Bocko, Grangeview Ten, Run Happy, Skywalker Logan and so many more.
Thankfully, there are some exceptionally talented young greyhounds around ready to fill their shoes and we can look forward to some wonderful racing in the coming months. With the vaccine rolling out, hopes are high that punters will get back on track in the near future and it can’t come soon enough.
As with any sport, greyhound racing is better when there are spectators providing the soundtrack. While last year’s racing was of the highest quality, it would have been considerably more satisfying had crowds been coming through the stiles.
Over the past fortnight, it was confirmed that the English Derby has a new home, or more accurately is returning to an old home, with the news that Towcester is to host the 2021 renewal. The venue opened to much fanfare in late 2014 and was given the rights to host the English Derby in 2017.
It did so for two years before its closure in 2018 after going into administration. The venue reopened in May of last year and it came as no surprise to any involved in the sport that it won the rights to host the Derby.
There is no doubt the venue has the best facilities on offer to host a competition of the stature of the English Derby although the track itself often divides opinion. The Irish have of course won the last two renewals of the English Derby at Nottingham, while they had less luck at Towcester in 2017 and 2018.
Incidentally, the dates for the English Derby have been released and since changed. As of Friday morning, the competition will now commence on the same weekend it was originally due to come to a conclusion. It will begin on the weekend of June 11th and 12th and finish on Saturday, July 17th. Let’s hope there will be another Irish winner crowned on the night.