A Northamptonshire greyhound track has been named as the host of the English Greyhound Derby for the next five years.
This five-year deal will be worth more than £1.75 million and will rank as the largest prize money fund in the sport.
Towcester, UK’s newest greyhound track, has also guaranteed additional investment aimed at enhancing customer experience and promotion of the event.
Lord Hesketh-owned Towcester Racecourse introduced greyhound racing two years ago, and was picked by the Greyhound Board Working Party as the home for the Derby following the closure of Wimbledon.
Lord Hesketh said: “To increase audience and betting share globally for greyhound racing requires the best quality racing accompanied by the best quality production and the best levels of prize money. This is an exciting opportunity for the sport to make real progress.
Towcester’s chief executive Kevin Ackerman added: “We believe that we will put on the greatest greyhound show in the world.
“Greyhound racing is one of the best attended sporting events in the UK and has been starved for decades of a venue to showcase the sport properly. We plan to change that next year and beyond. We have a state of the art stadium, which we believe ranks as one of the best in the world.
“The track itself was specifically designed with the welfare of greyhounds in mind, with perfect radiuses on the bends which allow the greyhounds to run as fast there as they do on the straights. We are thrilled that the GBGB Working Party chose Towcester – and the extent of our commitment shows just how determined we are to repaying the faith they have shown in choosing us as the new home of the Greyhound Derby”.
Greyhound Board chairman Tom Kelly said: “It was only a few days before Christmas that the decision to go with Kevin and his team was taken, but throughout the process their enthusiasm and commitment allied to the value of their offers made them a strong contender.
“In order to match that enthusiasm, CEO Barry Faulkner has been working with our lawyers on the legal aspects of the deal between the Christmas and New Year breaks. Fortunately, like Barry, they are greyhound racing fans.
“This was a good, fast piece of work considering the size and importance of the task facing the Working Party, and I would particularly like to thank Steve Fluin and John Turner, the two non-board members, for the major part they played in getting us to where we are today”.