While much of the fanfare was reserved for the long-awaited return of horse racing on Monday, it was actually the greyhounds who were quickest out of the traps.
The Perry Barr meeting on June 1 was the first professional sporting event in the UK following the easing of the restrictions, and the first race on the card paid tribute to the outstanding work of medical personnel and care workers – the ‘ARC Thanks to NHS and Keyworkers’ Race’.
The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) had revealed its first set of fixtures for ‘Phase Two’ of the sport’s resumption, and these will feature a whopping 70 races per day, seven days a week for the next fortnight!
It’s a sport that, while hugely popular with punters, is not always that well attended in person – particularly at daytime meetings, and so bringing racing back behind closed doors is less of an issue than it might be elsewhere.
To ensure that the return of dog racing went without a hitch, officials have been running a set of behind-closed-doors trial races to ensure that all necessary safety measures and protocol could be introduced effectively, and the Board confirmed that the trials were a success.
This stems from the GBGB’s new Operational Policy, which is a series of rules designed to ensure that everyone involved in the sport – from owners to track staff – are able to carry out their work safely and in line with governmental procedures on distancing and so on.
A number of guidelines remain in place, including:
- Limits on the numbers of track staff
- Races held 30 minutes apart
- Thorough cleaning of the stalls between each race
Once Phase Two has been signed off, the object of the GBGB Operational Policy is to slowly relax these restrictions at a gradual pace until, hopefully, everything returns to normal.
The managing director of GBGB, Mark Bird, said:
“We have been clear from the start of the lockdown that a swift return to racing is in the best interests of our greyhounds.
“We are thrilled to be racing again and to be flying the flag for our sport as the first to return, albeit behind closed doors for the time being.
“We are in the unique position of having no human participants which has meant that, with careful planning, we have been able to get the show back on the road today.”
Open Races On Hold
For the time being, there will be no open races held in an attempt to minimise any problems that might arise from travelling with dogs around the country.
That means that all dogs will compete at the tracks local to them, with the open calendar resuming as part of Phase Three – and in-line with the government’s latest updates regarding the relaxation of lockdown measures.
Some trainers will not be able to return if they don’t have a track local to them, and the GBGB has confirmed that they will continue to provide financial support to them throughout June.
In the meantime, here’s a quick look at the UK greyhound fixtures from June 1-14, though are subject to change:
|Monday Bags||Perry Barr||Swindon||Sheffield||Kinsley||Yarmouth||Nottingham|
|Monday Other||Central Park||Henlow||Monmore||Romford||Doncaster||Harlow|
|Tuesday Other||Central Park||Romford||Hove||Monmore||Crayford||Henlow|
|Wednesday Bags||Newcastle||Swindon||Belle Vue||Perry Barr||Sheffield||Sunderland|
|Wednesday Other||Central Park||Crayford||Hove||Monmore||Doncaster||Harlow|
|Thursday Bags||Perry Barr||Sunderland||Nottingham||Sheffield||Newcastle||Yarmouth|
|Thursday Other||Central Park||Henlow||Crayford||Romford||Hove||Monmore|
|Friday Other||Harlow||Hove||Crayford||Monmore||Central Park||Romford|
|Saturday Bags||Belle Vue||Perry Barr||Newcastle||Nottingham||Sheffield||Swindon|
|Sunday Bags||Belle Vue||Sunderland||Kinsley||Pelaw Grange|
|Sunday Other||Doncaster||Harlow||Henlow||Hove||Towcester||Central Park|