Wimbledon track to close its doors in June
Greyhound racing in these islands received a hefty blow yesterday with the news that Wimbledon Track in London is to close its doors on June 18.
The news had been generally expected for the past few years but still the suddenness of the announcement came as a shock.
Clive Feltham, MD of the GRA, explained: "Our lease is due to run out on July 14 and we decided to make an early announcement in order to give us time to vacate and to allow people to visit the stadium for a final time."
The final of the William Hill English Derby will be run at the track on Saturday, June 4 and this decision means there will be just two farewell meetings at the track on June 11 and June 18.
The decision raises the question as to where next year's English Derby will be run. There is no other greyhound track in the Greater London area, and Feltham agreed that it was unlikely it would be run at another GRA track.
However he did intimate that it was hoped to make a decision on the new venue prior to the closing of Wimbledon.
A syndicate headed by Paschal Taggart and Diane McLean have been battling to develop Wimbledon as a modern, luxurious greyhound stadium but the local Merton Council have given their vote to the Wimbledon soccer team, despite the fact that reports have shown that the site, which is situated on a flood plain, would not be suitable for a football stadium.
Good Friday racing
Another major development yesterday was the confirmation that Shelbourne Park will race on Good Friday, March 25.
Racing has been staged on Good Fridays at Harold's Cross for the past few years and they will again stage their normal night meeting.
However, the Shelbourne meeting is due to start at 5.0, with the gates opening at 3.30. This will facilitate fans attending the Ireland versus Switzerland soccer game in the adjacent Aviva Stadium that evening.
The big action on the tracks tonight is at Tralee where the semi-finals of the GMHD.ie Insurances Juvenile Classic will be run and both should be most informative affairs.
The unbeaten duo of Lenson Rocky (9.27) and Skywalker Manner go head to head in the opening heat. Both have been hugely impressive and have been the subject of deals during the competition. But the Pat Buckley-trained Lenson Rocky has the advantage on the clock and has an inside draw and that can be vital.
The second semi will see Double Oh Seven (9.42) and Silverhill Pat renew rivalry after their thrilling battle last week and the Paul Hennessy-trained Double Oh Seven can again come out on top.
He is a really powerful finisher and can go up stronger than he did last week.