Greyhound Derby brought in Â£1 million for Northamptonshire economy, Towcester Racecourse chief executive claims
Six thousand people descended on Towcester Racecourse to watch a race that lasted just 29 seconds...and organisers have hailed it a "roaring success".
The crowds were treated to a carnival atmosphere on Saturday, with 28/1 outsider Astute Missile springing a surprise in the Â£350,000 feature race before Radio 2 star Jo Whiley performed a DJ set to keep the party going.
Bookmaker Ben Keith of sponsors StarSports said the average stake on the night was Â£84 per race – higher than both Royal Ascot and the Cheltenham Festival.
Kevin Ackerman, chief executive of Towcester Racecourse, said: “It was an incredible night, a really special occasion for Towcester. The eyes of the racing world were on us and I think we delivered.
“To have that crowd, that atmosphere and that quality of racing was really pleasing. We were always confident we’d put on a great show but I’m not sure any of us could have expected it go quite that well.
“When you take into account gate receipts, betting turnover, food and drink, travel and hotels we think the night has generated a minimum of Â£1m for the Northamptonshire economy, possibly more.
“The planning is already underway for next year and we will be making the Greyhound Derby bigger and better than ever before, making it one of the premier sporting events in Northamptonshire.”
The Greyhound Derby switched to Towcester following the closure of Wimbledon, with Mr Ackerman pledging to make it the ‘Royal Ascot’ of the greyhound world. The county track will stage the race for the next four years.
Lord Hesketh, who owns the course, has invested heavily to ensure Towcester has the best possible facilities and is best-placed to reinvigorate the sport.
He said: “Saturday was a roaring success. The atmosphere was absolutely electric. I’m delighted to see the hard work of Kevin and his team pay off. It was a triumphant night for greyhound racing.”