The development of the Valley Greyhound Stadium is progressing at pace in preparation for professional racing licensed by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB).
The new outside hare system, which was delivered in mid-August 2022, finally became operational in March. The former hare was a Sumner system that operated on the inside of the track via a rather complex (and noisy) array of pulleys and rollers driven by a large aluminium wheel housed near the finishing line. This has been replaced by a completely different Swaffam McGee mechanism that runs (in almost complete silence) on a rail sunk at ground level around the outside of the circuit with much of the drive mechanism concealed underground. The rail arrived in sections that were carefully welded together and set into more than 400 metres of specially constructed concrete footings to ensure that the internal cable runs smoothly without snagging.
The hare rail runs in front of the old starting traps so new boxes have arrived that can be swung on and off the track by powerful hoists. They have now been installed further up the home and back straights. A new inside safety rail, made by specialist manufacturer Barriers International, has also been completed. Much of it was installed by hand by new track owner Dave Barclay and his son Lee – who oversees stadium management at Harlow – who were soaked to the skin after selecting one of the wettest weeks of the year for the operation.
The new starting positions have shortened the run-ups but the finishing line has been moved nearer to the first bend, so the racing distances are not significantly shorter than before. The main standard, four-bend distance is now 460 metres (previously 475 metres). The two-bend sprint distance is 260 metres (previously 286 metres) with the six-bend stayers course at 645 metres (previously 665 metres).