Romford Greyhound Stadium

Romford Greyhound Stadium, referred to as Coral Romford Greyhound Stadium is a greyhound racing track located in Romford town centre in the London Borough of Havering in east London which is owned and operated by the Ladbrokes Coral group. The stadium has a capacity for over 1,700 people.

Romford Greyhound Stadium
LocationLondon Road
Romford
Greater London
RM7 9DU
England, United Kingdom
OperatorLadbrokes Coral
Capacity1,700 people
Construction
OpenedOld track 1929
New track 1931
Renovated2019
Tenants
Greyhound racing
Website
www.romfordgreyhoundstadium.co.uk

The stadium has won several awards including the British Greyhound Racing Board's 'Racecourse of the Year' award in 1998 and again in 2003. Following the closure of Wimbledon Stadium in March 2017, it is one of only two stadiums left in London or Greater London, the other being Crayford Stadium.[1]

RacingEdit

The track is 350 metres in circumference, and the distances raced are 225, 400, 575, 750 and 925 metres.

There are six race meetings each week, on Friday and Saturday evenings, Wednesday and Saturday mornings and two afternoon meetings on Monday and Thursday.[2] During December racing is also held on Tuesday evenings.

Bets for each race can be placed either at the Tote or with the track-side bookmakers.

A number of major open racing events take place at the stadium each year, these include the Cesarewitch (an original classic), the Champion Stakes, the Essex Vase, Romford Puppy Cup, Golden Sprint and Coronation Cup.

FacilitiesEdit

The stadium consists of the Coral grandstand which is situated on the finishing line side of the track and is split over two levels. It contains two public bars, The Champions Bar and La Roc Bar, Trap 7 Snack Bar and Tote betting facilities. It also contains the Paddock Restaurant, which can seat 200 diners. The Coral grandstand opened on 6 September 2019 after a £10 million refurbishment.

A separate restaurant called The Pavilion is situated on the third bend and can cater for 100 diners. A purpose built Marquee is situated on the fourth bend and contains a bar, snack bar and Tote betting facilities.

CompetitionsEdit

HistoryEdit

Pre-war history and original trackEdit

Archer Leggett and his brother-in-law rented a small piece of land near the Crown Hotel just off the London Road in Romford in 1929. They put down £400 to equip the land ready for greyhound racing and opened for business on 21 June and invited privately owned greyhounds to chase a hare driven by an old Ford car engine. The venture only lasted one year because the landlord increased the rent, doubling it to £4 a week which resulted in the decision to move the greyhound operation. Later £600 was raised which enabled Leggett to build a new track with a stand in a field within Belle Vue Meadow adjacent to the London and North Eastern Railway line. The new site was on the south side of the London Road opposite the original venue north of the London Road. It included a hand-operated totalisator and electrically operated hare. The first meeting took place on 20 September 1931 with regular attendances in excess of 1,000 frequenting each meeting.[3]

In 1935 four new directors including Fred Leaney and Michael Pohl joined the original directors and an extra £17,000 investment followed which allowed the track to turn to be converted into a stadium. Extra stands and kennels were constructed by the new company called Romford Stadium Ltd who then turned their attention to the recently purchased Dagenham Greyhound Stadium.[4]

Cheetah racingEdit

The greyhound industry boom allowed companies such as Romford Stadium Ltd to thrive and greyhound racing itself was big business and national news. Before work got underway at Dagenham, Arthur Leggett decided that he was going to bring cheetah racing to the UK. Twelve cheetahs arrived from Kenya in December 1936 courtesy of explorer Kenneth Gandar-Dower. After six months of quarantine the cheetahs were given time to acclimatise before Romford, Harringay and Staines were earmarked for the experiment with the cheetahs running for the first time on Saturday 11 December 1937 at Romford. The experiment failed, with just one further race held; the racing stopped because although the cheetahs were able to better the greyhound times they had to be let off first when racing greyhounds and when they raced against each other they lost interest and stopped chasing the lure.[5][6]

With the new Dagenham opening in 1938 Leggett next introduced a new event to Romford in 1939 called the Essex Vase. The stadium consisted of the main grandstand on the home straight that featured the Seniors Club and on the back straight was another stand and the Junior Club within. The paddock was on the third bend with the racing kennels and the Racing Managers office. Between the first two bends sat the totalisator and general office, the press office was on the first bend and there was a very unusual Racing Managers box in the middle of the centre green. The track was 380 yards in circumference with distances of 460 & 650 yards and an 'Inside Sumner' hare. The resident kennels were situated in Heaton Grange, 24 acres of ground off Straight Road to the north-east of Romford.[4]

Post-war historyEdit

 
Romford Greyhound Stadium c.1980

The Essex Cup was discontinued after 1949 for fifteen years and the Racing Manager in the fifties was Les Cox. The Director of Racing Michael Pohl died in 1959, his son Michael J. Pohl Jr. was the assistant to Cox. Trainers attached to the track during this time were Peter Hawkesley, Bill Riley, Bob Thomson and Hubert Gray. George 'Bunny' Gough, former Racing Manager of Powderhall Stadium & Harringay Stadium, joined the track replacing Cox as Racing Manager in the early 1960s but the fallout from the 'Dagenham Coup' was felt by Romford Stadium Ltd in 1965 with the legal costs incurred by Romford Stadium Ltd finally being paid by the off-course bookmakers. It was the end for Dagenham as the company sold the track for £185,000 to a packaging business.[7]

Training appointments towards the end of the decade and start of the 1970s included John Coleman and Terry Duggan and in 1975 a second feature event was added to the tracks portfolio when they introduced the Romford Puppy Cup. During 1976 Arthur Leggett, the Managing Director, on behalf of the company agreed the sale of Romford to Corals.[7]

The new owners invested heavily into the track building a new grandstand which included a state of the art glass-fronted restaurant, the tote and hare system were also replaced. The investment reaped rewards as the track became extremely popular with public and the industry alike. John Sutton was brought in as the Managing Director, Gough was promoted to General Manager and Des Nichols (who was RM in 1975-6 and again in 1978 with Sydney Wood in the interim) were Racing Managers. Coral's signalled their intent by buying Brighton & Hove to double their track assets and preventing Ladbrokes from increasing their group, the latter had been a serious bidder for the two tracks at the same time.[7]

In 1977 local bitch 'Go Ahead Girl' recorded 17 consecutive wins for Duggan and one year later with Corals and Ladbrokes now owning seven tracks the payments for BAGS racing to the National Greyhound Racing Club ended. Instead the tracks would tender for the contracts. Only Hackney, Bristol and Watford along with five bookmaker-owned tracks (one of them being Romford) had BAGS contracts at this time.

Lauries Panther (owned by Laurie James and trained by Terry Duggan) won the 1982 English Greyhound Derby, providing Romford with their greatest moment and both Ballyregan Bob and Scurlogue Champ appeared at the track. The former won the 1985 Essex Vase going through unbeaten and breaking the track record in the final. Three new major events were introduced; the Coronation Cup became Romford's third major trophy in 1986 following the closure of Southend Stadium, the Golden Sprint was inaugurated in 1987 followed by the resurrected Champion Stakes in 1988. In 1996 former Bolton boss Peter O’Dowd became Racing Manager taking over from Steve Daniel who had himself only recently replaced Ray Spalding.[8] Leading Trainers have included Linda Mullins, Peter Payne, Kenny Linzell, Linda Jones, David Mullins and Peter Rich.[9]

21st CenturyEdit

In 2006 the stadium underwent a £400,000 refurbishment of the main grandstand restaurant.[10] Trainer Paul Young (who joined the track in 2000) won the 2014 Trainers Championship.[11] In 2018 the stadium signed a deal with SIS to race every Monday afternoon, Wednesday evening, Thursday afternoon, Friday evening and twice on a Saturday (morning and evening).[12]

During 2019 a multimillion-pound renovation took place, which included the demolition of the main stand to create more car parking space, a modernisation of the reception area and office buildings, the construction a grand stand and a new track was laid down. The venue remained open throughout with the exception of four day closure in the August. The official re-opening was on 6 September 2019.[13][14]

In 2020 the Cesarewitch competition was brought back after an eight year dormant period, the event was sponsored by stadium owners Ladbrokes Coral as a category 1 race.[15]

Popular cultureEdit

Several Underworld tracks are named after greyhounds that ran at the stadium, including Born Slippy, Sappy's Curry, and Pearl's Girl.

Track recordsEdit

CurrentEdit

Metres Greyhound Time Date Notes
225 Walk the Talk[16] 13.18 9 June 2017
400 Roxholme Nidge[17] 23.26 15 September 2017 Romford Puppy Cup heats
575 Sparta Master[18] 34.59 22 November 2019 Essex Vase heats
750 Avit On Bertha[19] 46.37 12 December 2012
925 Riverside Honey[20] 58.57 6 September 2019 TV Trophy heats
1100 Cregagh Prince[19] 72.59 10 March 1987
400 H Glenwood Dream[19] 24.07 12 March 2010
575 H El Tenor[19] 35.53 19 February 1999

Former (post-metric)Edit

Extended content
Metres Greyhound Time Date Notes
225 Troy Tempest 13.42 13.09.2002
225 Louisville 13.37 09.01.2004
225 Rotar Wing 13.37 23.10.2009
225 Tearaway John 13.28 12.03.2010
400 Just Clear 24.21 10.08.1978
400 Blue Style 24.02 1983 Romford Puppy Cup Final
400 Sados Choice 23.87 06.12.1986
400 Right Move 23.78 08.05.1992
400 Sandwichsunshine 23.58 27.09.1996
400 Fifis Rocket 23.58 16.04.2010 Golden Sprint semi-final
400 Ardbeg Mentor 23.56 23.04.2010 Golden Sprint Final
400 Eden Star 23.34 16.09.2011 Romford Puppy Cup semi-final
575 Bermudas Fun [21] 35.15 11.07.1978 Essex Vase Final
575 Ballyregan Bob[21] =35.15 09.07.1985 Essex Vase Final
575 Sard 35.09 21.09.1988
575 Elderberry Chick 34.86 18.07.1997 Champion Stakes Final
575 Palace Issue 34.81 09.07.1999
575 Sportsman 34.94 07.07.2003 Champion Stakes heats
575 Solid Money 34.78 09.07.2004 Champion Stakes second rd
575 Airport Captain 34.67 13.08.2013 Champion Stakes final
575 Adageo Bob 34.67 02.12.2014
575 Quantum Leap [22] 34.62 9 August 2019
715 Scurlogue Champ 44.18 16.04.1985
750 Scurlogue Champ 46.80 02.03.1985
750 Keem Rocket 46.70 02.03.1985
750 Bubbly Prince 46.68 07.01.2000
750 Killeacle Phoebe 46.64 19.06.2001
925 Langford Dacoit 59.56 27.07.1978
925 Salina 59.13 07.04.1981
925 Aero Rebel 58.62 12.12.2012
400 H Barrymoss Queen 24.50 08.08.1985
400 H Emers Flight 24.49 18.09.1989
400 H Pantile 24.49 04.05.1990
400 H Run With Billy 24.41 18.02.1994
400 H Rossa Ranger 24.17 05.07.2002
400 H Sizzlers Bossman 24.15 18.07.2005
400 H Freedom Man 24.12 08.05.2009
575 H Champagne Glory 36.22 16.10.1984
575 H Shanavulin Jacko 36.20 10.04.1993

Former (pre-metric)Edit

Extended content
Yards Greyhound Time Date Notes
460 Beau Coup 26.54 27.08.1938 National Record
460 Tan Gent 26.08 1946
460 Low Pressure [23] 25.83 09.1959
460 Yellow Dew 25.51 11.05.1963
460 Westpark Jupiter =25.51 1968
460 Ace of Trumps 25.47 07.04.1969
460 Houghton Spur 25.47 13.05.1969 =equalled
460 Ace of Trumps 25.18 13.05.1969
500 Jimmy Pallet 27.69 11.05.1971
550 Pastorale Passe-partout 32.58 1941
650 Pearls Choice 37.66 1947
650 Vals Parachute 36.43 07.08.1965
650 Shamrock Clipper 36.42 1967
650 Cullen Era 36.42 1968 =equalled
650 Tarrys Gay Lady 36.19 1970
650 Dolores Rocket 36.06 06.07.1971 Essex Vase Final
840 Carmen Star 48.38 20.08.1963
840 Breachs Blizzard 48.23 1967
840 Hat Band 48.02 1970
880 Bedford 50.35 1967
880 The Marchioness 50.28 18.03.1972
1030 Walking Champ 60.85 14.04.1964
1030 Ashley Park Mystery 60.87 1967
1030 Castle Satoo 60.42 1970
1030 Curraheen Lady 60.00 11.05.1971
460 H Cheerful Chairman 27.60 09.05.1939 National Record
460 H Vintners Cup 26.19 1958
460 H Derry Palm 26.14 02.06.1970
650 H Neds Bay 37.61 1967
650 H Gipsy Jerry 37.47 19.03.1968

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Duggins, Alexi (22 March 2017). "Gone to the dogs: London's last greyhound track is closing this weekend". TimeOut. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Romford Greyhound Stadium". Retrieved 25 November 2008.
  3. ^ Barnes, Julia (1988). Daily Mirror Greyhound Fact File, page 127. Ringpress Books. ISBN 0-948955-15-5.
  4. ^ a b Genders, Roy (1981). The Encyclopedia of Greyhound Racing, pages 67-70. Pelham Books Ltd. ISBN 07207-1106-1.
  5. ^ "K. C. Gandar Dower. "Racing Cheetahs." Times [London, England] 11 Dec. 1937". Times [London, England] 15 Oct. 1927: 6. The Times Digital Archive.
  6. ^ ""Cheetah Versus Greyhound." Times [London, England] 13 Dec. 1937". The Times.
  7. ^ a b c Genders, Roy (1990). NGRC book of Greyhound Racing, pages 54-56. Pelham Books Ltd. ISBN 0-7207-1804-X.
  8. ^ Fry, Paul (1995). The Official NGRC Greyhound Racing Yearbook, pages 243-244. Ringpress Books. ISBN 186054-010-4.
  9. ^ Hobbs, Jonathan (2002). Greyhound Annual 2003, page 136. Raceform. ISBN 1-904317-07-3.
  10. ^ "Remember When - April 2006". Greyhound Star.
  11. ^ "Top trainers fight for title". Romford Recorder.
  12. ^ "SIS announces schedule for SIS British Greyhound Service for 2018". SIS.
  13. ^ "'Tonight is the night!': Romford Greyhound Stadium to reopen fully refurbished Coral Stand after £10m overhaul". Romford Recorder.
  14. ^ "ROMFORD GRAND OPENING SCHEDULED FOR SEPTEMBER 6". Greyhound Star.
  15. ^ "OUTSTANDING EFFORT ON OPEN RACE CALENDAR – FULL EVENTS". Greyhound Star.
  16. ^ "2017 track record result". Greyhound Board of Great Britain.
  17. ^ "THE ROMFORD PUPPY CUP - HEAT 5". Greyhound Board of Great Britain. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
  18. ^ "CORAL ESSEX VASE - HEAT 5". Greyhound Board of Great Britain.
  19. ^ a b c d "Romford track records". Greyhound Data. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
  20. ^ "TV Trophy heats track record". Greyhound Board of Great Britain.
  21. ^ a b "Remember When July". Greyhound Star.
  22. ^ "VISIT CORAL.CO.UK STAYERS". Greyhound Board of Great Britain.
  23. ^ "Remember When - September 1959". Greyhound Star.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 51°34′29″N 0°9′54″E / 51.57472°N 0.16500°E / 51.57472; 0.16500