No racing Saturday 26 November
We were all set to see the return of the track’s two leading greyhounds of 2022 but, unfortunately, a couple of leading trainers have had to cry off at the last minute due to illness. As a consequence, it simply wasn’t possible to put together a viable card. Hopefully, everyone will be back to health in time for the next meeting on Saturday 3 December.
19 November 2022
With a shortage of dogs on recent cards, it has become more and more difficult to make up competitive races. It has left some greyhounds running over less than ideal distances. Three leading lights over four-bends were squeezed into the hot two-bender that opened proceedings alongside proper sprinters Bon Bon and Night Warrior. Bon Bon’s pace over the first thirty yards or so proved crucial.
Le Rondel Fusee, Road Warrior and Storm Alert would all have preferred to have raced in the top 515 yards heat but they would have had to have been on their mettle to compete with Del Boy. A cast-off picked up for £250, he was already a length ahead of Bob Brown as they turned and stretched further clear as the race progressed.
The supporting heat was a more topsy-turvy affair as The Duchess sprang out to an early lead but faded away after being bumped at the bend as Kelly’s Eye showed a welcome return to form with her first win in fifteen races.
Her kennelmate, Destiny’s Boy, who had been in dismal form, railed from last to first to finally earn a place in the winner’s enclosure at The Valley.
The quirky Smithy’s Baz showboated his way to victory in the supporting sprint and it looks like it will be worth keeping an eye on Young Warrior. He flew through the field to claim victory in the last. (Recordings of some of the evening’s top races are available in the Videos section of this website).
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.
12 November 2022
Bred in the deepest purple (her parents are Laughill Blake and Forest Natalee), Storm Alert was always likely to be blessed with super early pace. It was no surprise that she was an open winner before she had turned two-and-a-half, but Mother Nature intervened soon afterwards and her GBGB career was cut short by motherhood. (In fact, a couple of her offspring turned in very promising trial times before the start of this week’s meeting.) She cropped up at The Valley last autumn and produced a couple of useful performances over both two and four bends although, understandably, she never quite hit the highest of heights before disappearing for another interlude in the breeding paddocks.
At the age of four and with two litters on the ground (although you would never think it to look at her), she was surprisingly asked to make the trip over from Gloucestershire again at the start of last month and, amazingly, rocketed round to one of the fastest sprint times at The Valley all year. An appearance over four bends went a bit pear-shaped a fortnight ago when she was bashed to the back of the pack but that experience clearly hadn’t bothered her as she bolted out to lead the top heat at the turn. She never did have the greatest stamina and she looked vulnerable with Bob Brown and the fast-finishing Jaganory on her tail. But, not a bit of it. She even stretched clear on the run in to win in the second-fastest time she has ever recorded in South Wales.
The supporting rounder provided the race of the night as The Duchess again showed her early pace to lead up, but she was crowded at the turn as young sprinter Maxine Hughes railed into the lead and began to pull clear. The brindle was still leading a couple of yards from the line but, with a flying finish, The Duchess came back to win it on the nod.
A quick start enabled outsider Bon Bon to romp home in the top sprint with Le Rondel Fusee showing too much early toe for his rivals in the supporting sprint.
The consistently inconsistent Tommy Brown claimed another surprise victory and Flora won over two bends for only the second time ever. (Recordings of some of the evening’s top races are available in the Videos section of this website).
29 October 2022
It was the night of the underdog.
We should have known what we were in for when Storm Alert, a proven open race winner, was crowded out at the bend by Del Boy in the evening’s curtain raiser. For the next hour, most of The Valley’s top greyhounds went to the traps as short odds favourites and were royally turned over by unfancied rivals.
Dawn’s searing early pace made her the obvious favourite in the first two-bender of the evening, even though she had made only one previous sprint appearance. We had clearly all forgotten that she was beaten to the punch that night by the young dog inside her – Breathless. The same opponent left her standing again.
Bon Bon was the only greyhound to have beaten the track’s top-ranked sprinter, Rhythmic Dancer, to the first bend in ten races. But anyone expecting the threat in the top sprint to come from the red jacket was looking at the wrong trap as Night Warrior bolted out of Trap 3. The two kennelmates in the inside traps stumbled over each other all the way to the line and never looked likely to get close.
Even money favourite Kelly’s Eye – who beat soon-to-be Welsh Greyhound Derby winner Ice Hot back in July – was never a factor in the fourth race as The Duchess flew out to a two-length lead in the first hundred yards. By the time they had reached the third bend, her grace had been caught by Sonic Bolt who stretched out to win over four bends for the first time .
It was left to Ali G and Liverpool to finally put some money back in favourite backers’ pockets in the last two races with the former recording her fastest time for nearly a year. (Recordings of some of the evening’s top races are available in the Videos section of this website).