27 May 2023
There was a time when Kelly’s Eye looked like she might be a bit of a contender. Any greyhound that had the ability to keep uber-stayer Glyncoch Cloud Nine at bay had the stamina to be a real threat. But that was more than fifteen months ago and the intervening period showed up Kelly’s Eye’s Achilles heel – her lack of early pace. Time and again, she turned at the back of the pack and left herself too much to do. Things just got worse and worse over the months. By the time we reached this spring, Kelly’s Eye was struggling to break 6.00 seconds for the first 100 yards, which is inexperienced pup territory. Things were no better out of the new boxes and her 23-length last place at the end of April – when she hurt a toe – had the distinction of being the second-worst 460-metre time recorded by any greyhound so far. It was pretty obvious that the end of her career was nigh. Lazer Jones took her on but – as he is employed full-time on the stadium development – more as a plaything for his young children than as a serious racing greyhound. Apparently, the young ones have been taking their duties a bit too seriously and the old girl has been dragged out on some marathon walks over the past couple of weeks. There were very few positive expectations when she lined up in the last heat of the evening, particularly as the track seemed to be slowing down as the meeting wore on. So, naturally, Kelly’s Eye flew out to a clear lead at the turn and promptly galloped more than eight lengths clear of the field in the fastest time of the entire night.
That meant that she was even quicker than new bullet-starter David’s Fredo’s trap-to-post domination of the top heat and a full four lengths faster than former track record holder Bob Brown had recorded when he turned inside the wayward Ranger earlier in the evening.
The top sprint was billed as a head-to-head between two-bend record holder Rhythmic Dancer and last week’s winner, Little Diamond. Le Rondel Fusee – who has been struggling with injury over the last couple of months – then threw the cat among the pigeons by pinging out of the boxes. It looked like he might hold them all at bay at the bend, but Little Diamond just managed to cut Le Rondel Fusee off as they turned and, as he was forced to check, Rhythmic Dancer was left with nowhere to go on the rails. Little Diamond pranced clear and poor old Ron limped off the track to another period of rehabilitation.
The other two sprints had more than their share of controversy. Pandy Bow came within a nostril of throwing away victory in the opener as she paid more interest in Iceberg than in the finishing line and the redoubtable Night Warrior celebrated his forthcoming fifth birthday by holding on for an equally narrow win despite the unfriendly attentions of Patch on the run-in.
Thousands sign petition to support greyhound racing in Wales
In a matter of weeks, more than 10,000 people signed the official petition supporting greyhound racing in Wales.
The Welsh Government has accepted a Senedd (Welsh Parliament) committee report that recommends bringing in a ban on greyhound racing in Wales. Not a single member of the committee, let alone any member of the Welsh Government, has ever visited a greyhound track or trainer’s kennels. They ignored official, audited data and based their decision on the lies of animal rights extremists.
It’s an awful, ill-informed decision and, if they bring in a ban in Wales, it will be Scotland and England next.
Please join the thousands who have signed the official petition and help us to make the Welsh Government think again…then share the link through your social media.
GBGB start date announced.
Valley to become licensed track by January 2024.
Dave Barclay – since November 2021, the owner of the Valley Greyhound Stadium – has announced that he has struck a deal that will see the track aiming to become Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) licensed by January 2024. The track will continue to be leased back to the former owner, Malcolm Tams, to operate as an independent track while the stadium is upgraded to meet GBGB licensing standards. (Click here to read more more about development of the stadium’s facilities).
The Valley is currently a ‘flapping’ track, licensed by the local authority, where amateur trainers run their own greyhounds.
“I know that a lot of locals have been looking for some certainty about the future,” said Malcolm Tams. “I hope that the timetable will give people the confidence to invest in greyhounds to keep flapping right up to the end of next year.”
In 2024, licensed racing will see professional trainers running dogs for appearance and prize money that is ultimately funded by high street bookmakers and media rights companies. Two main media rights companies, ARC and SIS, pay greyhound tracks for the right to broadcast their races live, not only into high street betting shops, but online around the world.
Four of the biggest greyhound stadiums that were affiliated to SIS have announced that they will transfer to ARC by 2024 and a fifth SIS-affiliated track, Central Park, will switch to ARC as early as 2023. This means that SIS, which has deals to provide live coverage of UK greyhound racing to many overseas markets, would be facing a shortage of races that they would be able to broadcast. Dave Barclay has confirmed that he has signed a contract with SIS for The Valley to help plug the gap.
“Eventually, I’d like to think we could race up to four times a week,” said Dave Barclay, who is the owner and promoter of the highly-successful GBGB-licensed track at Harlow in Essex.
Richard Brankley, Head of Greyhound Operations for SIS, said, “I’ve been so impressed with Harlow, which is one of the best-managed tracks in the country and, if The Valley is run half as well as that, then it will be a fantastic addition.”
The project will require significant development of The Valley Greyhound Stadium. “We need to build on-site kennels, as there are none at the moment, the racing office will be repositioned and then there is the hare to think about,” said Dave Barclay. “It’s an inside hare at the moment. I did consider leaving it as inside, but it would be the only one in the country and I think it’s sensible to stick with what everyone else uses.”
It is likely that both sets of traps will eventually be brought forward to shorten the run to the first bend, which will mean that the standard four-bend distance will be shorter than the current 515 yards (475 metres). Work may be done to increase the camber on the bends but the track layout is likely to remain, as it is thought that there will be sufficient room to accommodate an outside hare rail without remodelling the circuit.
Dave Barclay has asked Malcolm Tams to manage the planning and development issues and Malcolm is confident that the timetable will enable independent greyhound racing to continue while the building work takes place.
“I put my money into Harlow to run it as a greyhound track and, thankfully, we’ve been very successful in recent years and I’m hoping for more of the same at The Valley,” said Dave Barclay. “I fell in love with it the minute I drove in. I told Malcolm that I’d definitely buy it. We shook hands on a deal pretty quickly.
“It’s been bought in my family name and my son Lee and daughter Kate will be involved in running it. There’s a lot to do.”
The Welsh Government’s Valleys Task Force Initiative has identified Caerphilly/Ystrad Mynach as one of seven strategic hubs across the South Wales Valleys “that will act as a focus for public investment and business growth.”
Caerphilly County Borough Council published its ‘Ystrad Mynach Masterplan’, which identifies the Valley Greyhound Stadium as being key to this strategy.
It notes how the stadium is “ideally located to capitalise on the many visitors to the area and there is opportunity to expand and increase the potential of the site as a tourism destination. Furthermore, there is opportunity for spin-off between this site and potential hotel and restaurant development on adjacent land.”
The Masterplan states that GBGB licensing of the Valley Greyhound Stadium presents an opportunity to create “a vibrant and accessible visitor destination” and to improve Ystrad Mynach’s status as a tourist destination. The plan highlights the prospects for job creation at the stadium with a knock-on effect for Ystrad Mynach town centre of increased footfall, bolstering the night-time economy.
With plans to stage up to four meetings per week, around £2 million per year could go directly into creating local jobs for local people and appearance money for local greyhound trainers to enable them to train and care for local greyhounds.
Dave Barclay has developed a reputation as one of the most progressive and successful promoters in the sport.
A successful building contractor in partnership with his brother, Dean, Dave became a keen punter and greyhound owner at Harlow after the track opened in 1995. In 2005, he bought the track from the original owners, Leaside Leisure, and continued to invest in the site, which now includes a restaurant, function rooms and a social club famous for popular poker and darts tournaments.
Harlow took off as a greyhound venue when Walthamstow closed in 2008. A raft of leading trainers moved to the Roydon Road stadium, including Mark Wallis who won the 2009 Greyhound Derby with Kinda Ready while attached to Harlow.
Crowds grew and, within a few years, Harlow was hosting live televised meetings on Sky Sports. A deal with broadcaster SIS to beam pictures live to betting shops has enabled the expansion of racing to five times a week with the track featuring live on RPGTV twice weekly.
20 May 2023
Ystrad Mynach isn’t exactly regarded as a top tourist destination but, surrounded by leafy trees below the verdant slopes of the Rhymney Valley, the Valley Stadium looked just about as glorious a place as you could find on a beautiful summer’s evening. I mention this because it was the first time that we’d been able to watch greyhound racing in the sun at The Valley since last August. Continued development work at the track had meant that it was only the second time in six weeks that we’d been able to watch greyhound racing at the stadium in any sort of weather and the combination of unfamiliarly lovely conditions and under-raced greyhounds made for a topsy-turvy old evening.
Rhythmic Dancer splashed her way through puddles to set a very challenging new sprint track record on a cold, dreary March evening. In bright early summer sunshine, she was beaten to the kick by the relatively unheralded Little Diamond whose warm-weather best turned out to be a full 155 spots faster than her underwhelming cold-weather debut had been.
When The Rock is good, he’s very, very good and when he’s bad, he’s horrid. The warmth of the sun on his back brought out his better side as he took the supporting sprint – but only by half-a-length from Valley Edward, who has looked like a completely different dog out of the new traps.
Night Warrior looked like he could be on his way to an eye-catching time as well until, for no apparent reason, his aged legs simply gave way underneath him as he turned for home, allowing the Ranger to claim a welcome victory on his return from injury. Meanwhile, Jigsaw put the pieces together to claim victory in the last and bookend the evening with a sprint double for the Hafodyrynys kennels.
The evening’s four-bend races were largely uneventful. Storm Alert has the notable record of having had more pups than wins in the last two years, but the old girl never looked in danger once she overtook early leader, T-Bone.
David’s Fredo burst out of the traps to claim his first 460-metres win at The Valley and one of the the fastest four-bend runs of the evening came in the rather unlikely form of Ice Tea in the lowest-ranked rounder on the card. (You can watch recordings of the evening’s top races by visiting the Videos section of this website).
22 April 2023
I don’t know where I am with these new surroundings, new distances and new greyhounds. The pups are the most unpredictable. Between them, Leigh Williams and the Darches have three large litters of young greyhounds whose schooling has been severely disrupted by all the development work at the track. Their form is almost impossible to forecast. A pup who might have been written off as ungradable can suddenly find chunks of time. The previously winless Pandy Charlie, for instance, suddenly found about 120 spots to claim his first victory and, another young greyhound, Little Diamond – godawful on debut a fortnight ago – found 110 spots to win the top sprint. But even that win was overshadowed by the performance of the completely unheralded Doll who ran nearly a length faster than Little Diamond’s time to win on debut in the supporting sprint.
But, amid all this inconsistency, one thing seems to remain true: no matter how big your greyhound’s lead, Darkness will run it down. She ran straight into co-favourite Skipper as soon as she left the boxes and found trouble at the first bend, allowing top sprinter Rhythmic Dancer to gallop clear. Skipper even led her into the home straight, but she was four lengths clear by the time they had run the length of the bar.
Elsewhere, Queenie recorded her first win while the usually reliably slow-starting Jaganory bolted out to one of the fastest sectionals we’ve seen from the new traps and romped away to only his second win since last June.
And keep an eye on Bouncer. Touched off in a very quick sprint on debut a fortnight ago, he bounded round to a nine-and-a-half length win over four bends in a time that even Darkness would have been proud of. (You can watch recordings of the evening’s top races by visiting the Videos section of this website).