Greyhound racing is a sport that continues to thrive in the UK. It dates back to the 18th century, and today, there are 21 licensed tracks across the country that host regular meetings.
The most prestigious competition on the calendar is the English Greyhound Derby, a race that is watched around the world. Here is a look at the history of the contest and details on where it will be held in 2024.
First Greyhound Derby in 1927
The inaugural English Greyhound Derby took place in 1927 at White City in London. It was run over a distance of 500 yards, and it was won by Entry Badge, who was trained by local trainer Hamon.
Apart from between 1940-1944, it has been run every year since then. In 2024, it will be the 96th renewal of the race, and a greyhound bet can already be placed on the competition, with Links Maverick being the early +1600 favorite.
The English Greyhound Derby has had five different homes in its history. It took place at Harringay in 1940 due to White City Stadium not being available that year. The race moved to Wimbledon in 1986 and it enjoyed 30 years in southwest London before the stadium closed in 2016. Towcester stepped in to host the race in 2016, while in 2019 and 2020, Nottingham held the prestigious contest.
Only Four Greyhounds Have Won the Race Twice
The structure of the Greyhound Derby means it’s a competition that is very difficult to win. Those involved must progress through a series of rounds before they reach the final. It means they are unable to make a mistake or else they are eliminated.
Only four greyhounds in history have won the race twice. Mick The Miller was the first to do so when he prevailed in 1929 and 1930. Patricias Hope matched that feat at White City when he was successful in 1972 and 1973. Rapid Ranger began the millennium with wins in 2000 and 2001, while more recently, Westmead Hawk was victorious in 2005 and 2006.
Charlie Lister Holds the Record for Most Victories as a Trainer
With seven wins, trainer Charlie Lister holds the record for the most triumphs in the English Greyhound Derby. His first victory came in 1997 when Some Picture won the final at Wimbledon. In 2013, his seventh success came through Sidaz Jack.
The four-time Greyhound Trainer of the Year was awarded an OBE in 2011 for his services to greyhound racing. He is now retired from the sport as he handed his license down to Chris Akers in 2018.
Record Numbers Could Be Reached in 2024
Towcester will host the 2024 Greyhound Derby and they could be set for a record number of entries. The winner will scoop £175,000 ($219,000) in prize money, while all six finalists earn a share of the total prize money of £235,000 ($294,000).
In 2023, there were 30 entries from Ireland, and it is expected that there will be another strong representation from across the Irish Sea, as their greyhounds have done very well in the race in recent years.
As we approach the 100th anniversary of the English Greyhound Derby, the race remains just as popular as it was in 1927. It looks set to remain an important part of the sporting calendar in the UK for many years to come.
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