Is Towcester going to the dogs?

Yesterday Towcester racecourse staged one of its 17 days of racing this year. Since it only charges admission for three of these, there isn’t a deal of income generated for the track by spectators. Things could be about to change.

It’s true that the site operates as a conference and wedding venue, but with limited public transport facilities (the nearest station is Northampton, not on a main line, and a good 25 minutes by taxi) I shouldn’t think the conference trade is brilliant. And I can’t see many couples wanting to say “I do” nest to the open ditch!

The news last Friday that planning permission has been granted for a new greyhound track at Towcester was, therefore, welcome to Kevin Ackerman, General Manager at the Northamptonshire racecourse as well as to followers of greyhound racing. If the proposal goes ahead it will mean the site will be used on a much more regular basis, and have the capacity to generate income which could be ploughed back into horse racing there.

Martin White, Chairman of the Greyhound Owners, Breeders and Trainers Association (GOBATA), which is driving the new operation, was delighted when he said, “This is fantastic news. Planning permission has been granted for our plans and we are looking forward to working with Lord Hesketh and Kevin Ackerman. It’s all systems go. We have worked tirelessly on this for a long while, and if things go to plan we’ll look to start racing at Towcester in August.”

If greyhound racing is to start then, there’s a busy time ahead, as the first thing to be done will be to level off some of the ground inside the racetrack in front of the Empress Stand. Only then can work begin on the 420 metre oval floodlit track which South Northants Council has approved. Goodness knows what this will do for watching the horses when they are down at the bottom of Towcester’s hill.

This is not the first proposal to build a greyhound track at a horse racing track, and thank goodness the earlier one came to nothing. A few years ago a licence was granted for greyhound racing to be staged at Cheltenham during the Festival. That would have been sacrilege.