As the greyhound calendar begins to wind down for the year, first time racegoers have the opportunity to prepare themselves for the new season by watching some of the remaining races which will still guarantee some entertainment. Although the English Greyhound Derby may have been and gone, you only have to look at the quality of racing as Thorn Falcon picked up the top prize of £175,000 under trainer Patrick Janssens back in June to get yourself hooked and start betting on greyhound races.
While the sport may not garner the popularity it once had there is still a dedicated and passionate following that keep up with the latest competitions as well as the best nights out for those novice spectators who still want to get their fix. With that in mind, here are some of the best races that take place this Autumn that you can attend.
The Gold Collar – Crayford
As the clocks go back and winter approaches there are plenty of exciting races in prospect for November — particularly the Gold Collar. Dating back to the 1930s the 540-metre race was a staple in the racing calendar when the sport was as popular as it ever got. Predominantly a working-class pastime, a night down the tracks was how most would spend their evenings after a hard day’s work.
Now with many of the London based racetracks closing down, Crayford is flying the flag for the capital’s racing, after a short stint at Manchester’s Belle Vue when the race was initially resurrected back in 2003. Spectators can expect a night of entertainment, culminating with this Category 1 race. Desperado Dan took home top prize last time out, with an impressive time of 33.64 seconds, just shy of the track record set by Martyn Wiley’s Mayshighlandree back in 2017.
English Oaks Final – Perry Bar
We return to the Midlands, arguably the new spiritual home of greyhound racing for the culmination of the English Oaks. Birmingham’s Perry Bar stadium opens it doors for the competition’s final. You only need to look at the John Lambe back in September to see how the new state of the art facilities will provide a welcome reception for the most prestigious bitches event of the year. With a history dating back to the 1920’s the prize purse is a substantial £15,000 and the way that the race is being run it is going to be tough to predict a winner, but Skywalker Cilla and Billy’s Diva have both performed well in the last rounds and come in as the favourites.
Last year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the race took place behind closed doors but that would not bother trainer Angie Kibble as she watched on as Ballymac Trend, an outside 25/1 shot, claimed a surprise victory.
The Eclipse – Nottingham
Another one of the longest running races in the history of the sport, Nottingham’s Eclipse is billed as one of the best races the East Midlands hosts outside of the English Greyhound Derby — and the competition’s reputation proceeds itself. Taking place at the end of November, the race has seen a number of close call finishes in recent years, with the most recent champion, Ice on Fire winning just ten seconds short of the track record.
Since it is one of the last big Category 1 races of the season, racegoers will be treated to appearances by some of the best greyhounds in the country, most of which would have featured in the Derby back in the summer.