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2024 Open Race schedule could help boost weekend attendances at UK greyhound stadia

The publication of the 2024 Open Competition schedule earlier in the week has been mostly well received. Once the TV Trophy, which is currently out to tender, is confirmed, there will be 57 Category 1 competitions scheduled across 15 venues next year. We explored some of the key talking points.

Falling attendances at the tracks should be given a welcome boost with 86% of Category 1 finals being scheduled on weekends. As a result, punters have four ‘Super Saturdays’ and one ‘Super Sunday’ to look forward to. The BGBF Puppy Cup at Oxford kicks things off on Saturday the 20th January, alongside the ARC Cesarewitch at Central Park.

Super Saturdays

Sat 20 Jan Oxford BGBF Puppy Cup 450m Flat
Sat 20 Jan Central Park Arena Racing Company Cesarewitch 731m Flat

Sat 30 Mar Central Park Arena Racing Company Kent Plate 491m Flat
Sat 30 Mar Monmore Premier Greyhound Racing Puppy Derby 480m Flat

Sat 27 Apr Hove Coral Brighton Belle 515m Flat
Sat 27 Apr Perry Barr Arena Racing Company Laurels 480m Flat

Sat 27 Jul Hove Coral Sussex Cup 515m Flat
Sat 27 Jul Hove Premier Greyhound Racing Regency 695m Flat
Sat 27 Jul Oxford Stadium Bookmakers Pall Mall 450m Flat

Super Sunday

Sun 26 May Sheffield 3 Steps to Victory Tri Distance
Sun 26 May Kinsley BresBet Gymcrack 450m Flat

GBGB Racing Operations Executive, Scott Harvey was compelled to answer questions about the lack of marathon competitions on the calendar, with only two on the whole schedule. One of those is the TV Trophy which has not yet been confirmed. Jack Levers raised his concerns on X/Twitter. “Could have put a couple in the cat2 [schedule]. This is supposed to allow us to plan ahead. Might as well send the marathon dogs over to Ireland. Joke tbh”.

Harvey responded to the tweet saying that he would “love for more marathon comps to materialise. You might have seen @bet365 are putting on a Cat 2 Winter Marathon on at Towcester in December. Let’s hope we see more in 2024.”

Promoters have been given added prize money to incentivise participation in Category 2 competitions. Scott Harvey declared that “The maximum added prize money threshold for Cat Two competitions is also set to increase in 2024 to £15,999 allowing promoters to pay more out in the qualifying stages, should they choose to do so.”

Exactly how much additional prize money that will find its way into trainers’ pockets is yet to be seen and some are sceptical. Nevertheless, the increased threshold is well intentioned and likely to lead to some increased prize money being shared.

The North-East does not have a Saturday Category 1 final on the 2024 schedule. The ARC Grand Prix and ARC Classic are both scheduled on Fridays at Sunderland. At Newcastle, The ARC Northern Puppy Derby and The ARC Northern Flat finals will both be run on Thursday evenings. At the same venue, December’s All England Cup will be run on a Friday.

Towcester has the lion’s share of Cat 1 finals with 8 being held at the Northamptonshire Derby venue. Oxford and Hove have 6 apiece; Romford has 5. Of the tracks without Category 1 competitions in 2024, Doncaster, Henlow and Suffolk Downs are rewarded with 9 Category 2 competitions between them.

The Grand National switches to Hove in 2024. Hurdling has returned to the Sussex track with great success this year and should prove to be an excellent host for the competition that will celebrate it’s centenary in 2027. Coppice Fox won the competition in 2023 and he may attempt to defend his crown on the South Coast. Only 3 greyhounds have returned to win the competition twice since its inception, Blossom of Annagura in 1949/1950, Topothetide in 1978/79, and possibly the greatest hurdler of all time, Sherrys Prince, who won three-in-a-row in 1970/71/72.

The use of “trialstakes” to extend the field of entries to competitions has been outlawed by the GBGB. The practice has effectively increased field sizes above the permitted 36 and extended competitions to 4 rounds instead of the stipulated 3.

Category One schedule 2024

Sat 20 JanOxfordBGBF Puppy Cup 450m Flat
Sat 20 JanCentral ParkArena Racing Company Cesarewitch 731m Flat
Sun 21 JanTowcesterBlue Riband 500m Flat
Fri 26 JanRomfordCoral Essex Vase 575m Flat
Thu 15 FebNewcastleArena Racing Company Northern Puppy Derby 480m Flat
Sat 17 FebMonmoreLadbrokes Winter Derby 480m Flat
Sat 24 FebCrayfordPremier Greyhound Racing Golden Jacket 714m Flat
Fri 15 MarRomfordCoral Golden Sprint 400m Flat
Mon 18 MarNottinghamBGBF Breeders Stakes 500m Flat
Sat 23 MarOxfordStar Sports Galaxy Marathon 845m Flat
Sat 30 MarCentral ParkArena Racing Company Kent Plate 491m Flat
Sat 30 MarMonmorePremier Greyhound Racing Puppy Derby 480m Flat
Sat 13 AprOxfordbet365 Hunt Cup 650m Flat
Sun 14 AprTowcesterRPGTV Juvenile 500m Flat
Fri 19 AprSunderlandArena Racing Company Grand Prix 640m Flat
Sun 21 AprSheffieldSteel City Puppy Derby 500m Flat
Sat 27 AprHoveCoral Brighton Belle 515m Flat
Sat 27 AprPerry BarrArena Racing Company Laurels 480m Flat
Sun 28 AprTowcesterKAB Maiden Derby 500m Flat
Sat 18 MayCrayfordLadbrokes Kent St Leger 714m Flat
Sun 26 MaySheffield3 Steps to Victory Tri Distance
Sun 26 MayKinsleyBresBet Gymcrack 450m Flat
Fri 14 JunRomfordCoral Coronation Cup 575m Flat
Sat 15 JunCentral ParkKent Silver Salver 277m Flat
Sat 29 JunTowcesterStar Sports/TRC English Greyhound Derby 500m Flat
Sat 20 JulCrayfordLadbrokes Champion Hurdle 380m Hurdle
Sun 21 JulTowcesterJuvenile Classic 500m Flat
Thu 25 JulNewcastleArena Racing Company Northern Flat 480m Flat
Sat 27 JulHovePremier Greyhound Racing Regency 695m Flat
Sat 27 JulHoveCoral Sussex Cup 515m Flat
Sat 27 JulOxfordStadium Bookmakers Pall Mall 450m Flat
Sat 24 AugMonmoreLadbrokes Gold Cup 480m Flat
Sat 24 AugMonmoreLadbrokes Summer Stayers 630m Flat
Mon 26 AugNottinghamJenningsbet Puppy Classic 500m Flat
Mon 26 AugNottinghamJenningsbet Select Stakes 500m Flat
Sun 15 SepTowcesterbet365 Empress Stakes 500m Flat
Wed 18 SepYarmouthEast Anglian Derby 462m Flat
Thu 19 SepSwindon77th BGBF Produce Stakes 476m Flat
Sat 21 SepPerry BarrM Lambe Construction Birmingham Cup 480m Flat
Sat 21 SepPerry BarrPremier Greyhound Racing St Leger 710m Flat
Fri 27 SepRomfordCoral Puppy Cup 400m Flat
Fri 18 OctRomfordPremier Greyhound Racing Champion Stakes 575m Flat
Sat 19 OctOxfordRPGTV Cowley Puppy Collar 450m Flat
Sat 19 OctCentral ParkPremier Greyhound Racing Kent Derby 491m Flat
Sun 20 OctSheffieldBresBet Steel City Cup 500m Flat
Sat 26 OctPerry BarrPremier Greyhound Racing Oaks 480m Flat
Sun 10 NovHoveCoral Grand National 500m Hurdle
Fri 15 NovSunderlandArena Racing Company Classic 450m Flat
Sat 23 NovCrayfordLadbrokes Gold Collar 540m Flat
Sun 24 NovTowcesterRPGTV English Puppy Derby 500m Flat
Mon 25 NovNottinghamPremier Greyhound Racing Eclipse 500m Flat
Sat 14 DecOxfordbet365 Challenge Cup 650m Flat
Sat 14 DecHoveCoral Olympic 515m Flat
Sat 14 DecHoveGeorge Curtis Ballyregan Bob Memorial 740m 740m Flat
Sun 22 DecSheffieldBGBF British Bred Derby 500m Flat
Sun 22 DecTowcesterbet365 English Puppy Oaks 500m Flat
Fri 27 DecNewcastlePremier Greyhound Racing All England Cup 480m Flat

Category Two schedule 2024

Sat 24 FebCrayfordPeter Bussey Memorial Trophy540m Flat
Sun 10 MarSheffieldQueen Mother Memorial Cup660m Flat
Thu 21 MarHoveCoral Springbok500m Hurdles
Thu 25 AprSuffolk DownsSuffolk Sprint220m Flat
Sat 27 AprHoveHove Puppy Cup500m Flat
Thur 2 MaySuffolk DownsSuffolk Derby388m Flat
Thu 23 MayNewcastleBGBF Maiden480m Flat
Fri 28 JuneSunderlandArena Racing Company Puppy Cup450m Flat
Sat 29 JuneTowcesterBGBF Champion Stakes500m Flat
Sat 29 JuneTowcesterDerby Plate500m Flat
Sat 29 JuneTowcesterChallenge Trophy712m Flat
Sat 29 Stakes500m Flat
Thu 25 JulyNewcastleArena Racing Company Angel of the North480m Flat
Sat 27 JulyHoveCoral Sprint Trophy285m Flat
Sat 17 AugCrayfordLadbrokes Guys & Dolls Trophy380m Flat
Sun 18 AugHenlowMaiden Gold Cup550m Flat
Sun 18 OctRomfordCoral Silver Standard400m Flat
Sat 26 OctPerry BarrArena Racing Company Scurry Gold Cup275m Flat
Sun 8 SepHenlowBetgoodwin Bedfordshire Sprint277m Flat
Sat 28 SepDoncasterBGBF St Leger661m Flat
Sat 28 SepDoncasterYorkshire Derby483m Flat
Thu 14 NovSuffolk DownsSuffolk Cesarewitch714m Flat
Fri 15 NovSunderlandBGBF Future Stars Puppy Trophy450m Flat
Sun 8 DecHenlowMaiden Derby460m Flat
Thu 12 DecSuffolk DownsSuffolk Gold Cup548m Flat
Mon 23 DecNottinghamArena Racing Company National Sprint305m Flat
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