| A GREAT NIGHT AS DERRY’S NEW BRANDYWELL OPENS FOR RACING|
It is a night that many people thought would never arrive! Sixteen months ago when the old Brandywell Track in Derry closed there were genuine fears that the northern city would never see greyhound racing again.
Following on from the defunct tracks Celtic Park, Dunmore Stadium and Dungannon’s Oaks Park it looked another nail in Northern Ireland’s greyhound racing. But thankfully there were enough people who felt it could re-open and thanks to the Derry City and Strabane Councils the dream will materialise this evening at 8pm when the first race will go off at the brand new Brandywell.
It is a very special occasion and racing manager Michael McLaughlin yesterday said, “There has been greyhound racing in Derry since 1932 and the track was first licenced in August 1947. It was a very sad occasion when the venue closed late in 2016 and many people felt that greyhounds would never run again in Derry”.
The old Brandywell Track closed in November 2016 and the new circuit has been built on the adjacent Brandywell Showgrounds.
Speaking yesterday, McLaughlin said, “We are ready to go and we have had a very good response. Racing traditionally took place on Mondays and Thursdays in Derry but due to the scarcity of dogs at the moment we will race on Mondays only for the early weeks or months. If the pool of dogs picks up we will then revert to the Monday and Thursday schedule”.
Northern folk are big in sprint racing and as a result tonight’s card will feature five races over the 300 yards distance and the remaining five over the 500 yard trip. The prizemoney for each race will be £150 for the winner, £50 for the second and £20 for the third.
Tonight’s ten-race programme will be split equally between 300 yard and 500 yard races and we will get an early guide as to how the track is racing.
Running in the fifth race is Proven Loyalty which is owned by Seamus McCloskey and last Friday week clocked 28.69 at Limerick.
As was the situation with the old Brandywell, the racecard will not have the runners in their draw order as the trap draw will only be made after the weigh-in. McLaughlin says, “I believe that this system cuts down on the number of absentees with owners not knowing their trap until the dog is weighed-in”.
Lynda Bonner has been promoting Derry track virtually on a daily basis on social media ever since the old track closed. A leading driving force in the Brandywell Supporters Club she announced yesterday that “All race winners at the first meeting will receive an engraved bottle of sand from the old track (only eleven exist) as the old era meets the new era. We have one spare in case of a dead heat! If there is no dead-heat we may auction it to the highest bidder.
“Funds will go towards the BGRC. Race winners will also receive a unique commemorative race jacket compliments of the BGRC. In addition 50 limited edition rosettes will be on sale at £5 each”.
Last word, though, to Michael McLaughlin who says, “Our facilities are limited but we are erecting a small marquee in which the bar will be situated and there will be free food for people during the night”. Let’s hope they have a great opening night.
Pictured at the official opening of the new Brandywell Greyhound Stadium were (L - R) Gerard Dollard CEO Irish Greyhound Board; DJ Histon CEO Irish Coursing Club; Charlie McDaid Brandywell Greyhound Track; Michael McLoughlin Brandywell Greyhound Track and Martin McLoughlin, ICC Steward at Brandywell Greyhound Track.
Copied from Talking Dogs written by Michael Fortune