Towcester opens greyhound track in £15m redevelopment

Towcester Racecourse
Towcester is a National Hunt course that first opened n 1928

The owner of Towcester racecourse believes introducing greyhound racing as part of a £15m redevelopment will secure the track's long-term future.

More than 4,000 people attended the course's first ever greyhound meeting on Saturday.

"If this place is going to survive and prosper, it's going to have to operate for more than 17 days a year," owner Lord Hesketh told BBC Look East.

"There's a lot of money been spent here - you're looking north of £15m."

The Towcester greyhound track is the first to be opened in the UK for almost 20 years and makes it the only venue to host both horse and dog racing.

Last race run
Milton Keynes (closed 2005)Walthamstow (closed 2008)
Reading (closed 2008)Portsmouth (closed 2010)
Oxford (closed 2012)

Entrance to greyhound meetings, like the horse racing, will be free at the south Northamptonshire track.

The greyhound circuit cost £1.8m to create, with the rest of the money spent since 2006 to redevelop facilities at the course.

Greyhound racing has been a sport in decline, with stadiums at Portsmouth, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Reading and Walthamstow having closed in the past decade.

"It's a sport which is much bigger than most people think and it's had a very rough time," said Hesketh.

"It needs a showpiece and we will hopefully do well out of it.

"What we've tried to do is move horse racing into the 21st century.

"Give it 12 months and I think you will start to see what it is all about. The exciting thing in the short-term is we've taken on nearly 80 people, now we have to justify it and I think we will."