News

No racing Saturday 24 September
The huge job of installing a new outside hare rail has been completed but the massive concrete mixers and diggers that had been back and forth on the track over the course of a fortnight left a lot of unexpected debris behind. Every little stone and piece of concrete has now been removed and the job of regrading the surface (the outside half of which was completely churned up) has been completed. We’ll be back racing on Saturday 1 October.
Eventually anything up to 200 tons of fresh sand will be laid on the track to build up a precise 1-in-20 camber around the bends. Laser technology has been used to site the rail at exactly the right height so that it will sit flush to the track when the new surface is laid.
Until the new mechanism is up-and-running and the stadium’s new hydraulically-operated starting boxes are installed, racing will continue with the current inside hare. (Click here to read more about the on-going upgrading of the track and stadium).

3 September 2022
I had a number of telephone conversations in the days before the race where I was offered several hypothetical situations whereby favourite Ice Hot could be beaten in the final of the Welsh Greyhound Derby. Most of the scenarios involved either Ice Hot getting squeezed between sprinters Snowy Owl and Dawn on the run to the bend or Rhondda Boy diving across him from Trap 4. It all seemed to involve too many unlikely factors to me but, lo and behold, when the balls were pulled from the bag, Ice Hot found himself drawn in between the two sprinters with Rhondda Boy in Trap 4. Having opened at 4/6, the favourite suddenly began to drift in a betting market that was so lively that the start of the race had to be delayed due to the queues of punters trying to get their money on. How would Ice Hot respond to these multiple threats? His answer was to blast out to the fastest sectional of any greyhound at The Valley this year. Despite decent starts, the sprinters were getting sand kicked in their faces long before the bend and poor old Kelly’s Eye found herself nearly five lengths in arrears after only 100 yards. Rhondda Boy kept a pretty straight line to the bend whereupon he forgot to turn left and clanged into Jaganory with such force that the brindle stayer came to an almost complete stop. Surprisingly, it was rank outsider Snowy Owl who was leading the chase up the back but her fuel warning light came on as they rounded the third bend and, from then on, she acted as something of a rolling road block, preventing the main challenger, Dawn, from getting near the favourite. Unbeaten for nearly two months, Ice Hot had saved his best ever performance for the final which, as his famous owner knows from personal experience, is the sort of thing that champions do. (You can watch a recording of the final by visiting the Videos section of this website).
One dog who was missing from the final was Dawn’s kennelmate, Sonny Liston, who came within inches of winning the Welsh Greyhound Derby last year but who found trouble at every step in this year’s heats. He picked up a consolation by holding outsider Le Rondel Fusee at bay in the supporting open and Rhythmic Dancer produced a roasting sectional of her own as she led all the way in the evening’s other trophy race.

GBGB  start date announced.
Valley to become licensed track by January 2024.

Dave Barclay – since last November, 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.

27 August 2022
The heats of the Welsh Greyhound Derby could so easily have been a disaster. Llanharan trainer Leigh Williams broke down miles away from the Valley Greyhound Stadium with more than a third of the total entry – including the ante post favourite – in her van. Replacement transport sped down from Merthyr Tydfil, the greyhounds were transferred and Leigh screeched into the car park just in time for Ice Hot to justify his popularity with the punters as he produced the fastest split of the evening and then stretched an amazing fourteen lengths clear in the opening heat.
Dawn is capable of equally eye-catching sectionals, but she found herself on the back foot in the second heat as Over The Moon (who usually runs under the name Rhythmic Dancer) burned her off on the run up and even stayer Jaganory beat her to the turn. Over The Moon was still leading as they reached the end of the back straight, but her stamina is an ever-present problem and Dawn had taken control by the time they turned for home with Jaganory running on to join kennelmate Kelly’s Eye – who had qualified from the first heat – in next Saturday’s final.
The last heat looked likely to be a match race between Pontypridd’s Rhondda Boy and reigning champion Storm Rising (Road Warrior) but the 2021 winner was badly bumped at the first bend as D1 sprinter Snowy Owl (Bon Bon) led them round. By all accounts, she had faded badly in a trial at the start of the week and wasn’t regarded as much more than a pacemaker. But, even though newcomer Rhondda Boy eventually squeezed past, Snowy Owl held on gamely for a surprise qualification. Storm Rising, who had spent much of the race in last place, came thundering home but his first bend trouble proved crucial.
Of the six fastest times of the evening, only three were recorded by greyhounds that qualified for the final and one was by a dog who wasn’t even entered. Red Kite (Le Rondel Fusee) and Over The Moon who came third and fourth in the second heat would have qualified easily if they had each been in one of the other heats and Alfie Brown won the evening’s supporting rounder in a time that was two-and-a-half lengths faster than either of them. (Recordings of the Derby heats are available in the Videos section of this website).

20 August 2022
With the start of the Welsh Greyhound Derby only a week away, many eyes were on the performance of debutants that had been brought to The Valley with the big one in mind. These included three from South Yorkshire that had already made the 400-mile round trip once this week simply to trial. None of the trio troubled the judges and, with a combined deficit of 26 lengths for their three sprint races, you wonder whether the petrol money and entry fees will be risked next weekend.
The problem all three came across was the amount of early pace on show. The two most recent Welsh Greyhound Derbies have been won from behind by fast finishers but this year’s crop of prospective entrants are dominated by fast starters. Dawn, Rhythmic Dancer, Sonny Liston, Bon Bon and Maxine Hughes are all proven D1 sprinters and, with multiple two-bend wins at The Valley between them, you can throw the likes of Princess Warrior and Le Rondel Fusee into the mix as well. Whether they will all stay the 515 yards is open to debate but it looks like you will need a greyhound with a bit of toe just to earn the right to ask the question.
Dawn sped to the bend in the evening’s match race between The Valley’s top two ranked bitches and Kelly’s Eye was never close enough to lay a glove on her. But Dawn’s sectional was as nothing in comparison with Rhythmic Dancer who turned in a roasting 5.57 in the supporting heat. Her stamina is definitely questionable but she is improving week-by-week. Last time out, it took Jaganory 514 yards to reel her in. This time round, she kept Jaganory a full eight lengths in arrears, only to be picked up in the final stride by Le Rondel Fusee.
With multiple open two-bend wins to his name this year, it was no surprise to see last year’s Welsh Greyhound Derby runner-up, Sonny Liston, leading at the bend in the top sprint. What did raise an eyebrow was the fact that he had Bon Bon right on his shoulder. Similarly, Breathless produced one of his best performances in the supporting sprint only to find Maxine Hughes whispering in his ear. Both of the newcomers were shoved aside as they cornered but they served notice that they are likely to be in the thick of the charge to the first bend next weekend.
There were fireworks in the evening’s penultimate race…literally. I don’t know why 20 August was a cause for celebration in nearby Ystrad Mynach but a loud display of pyrotechnics greeted the greyhounds as they paraded, which left Mr Jax cringing. Punters deserted him as he didn’t look like he was in the right frame of mind at all on the walk to the traps. He then promptly bolted out to his fastest time for more than five months. (Recordings of some of the evening’s top races are available in the Videos section of this website).