Nottingham (Colwick Park) Greyhound Track
In 1970 the White City track in Nottingham had closed down leaving the city without greyhound racing. Some year’s later plans for a new track within the Nottingham horse racing course began to surface. The site of the racecourse was east of the village of Colwick and the racecourse had opened way back in 1892 and had been extended in 1896 following the purchase of the Colwick Hall and its Estate (1° 6′ 37.658″W 52° 56′ 58.073″N).
On 24th January 1980 the Colwick Park greyhound track opened, it was situated on the north side of the race course where a car parking area had stood and previous to that had been an old bed of the River Trent. The county had strong greyhound racing ties and could now celebrate the opening of a new track. Members of the Severn and Trent greyhound clubs had maintained a presence in the council’s thoughts ever since the closure of White City.
The circumference of the track was 442 metres and was described as a very good galloping track with long straights and the sand used was Worksop Grey. The Managing Director Jon Carter announced that there were over 2,000 attending the first meeting which consisted of eight races, six over 500m and two over 295m. The very first winner was greyhound called Tartan Al trained by W Horton who won in 32.98sec at odds of 7-1.
An initial investment of £250,000 included the Panorama Room with a state of the art restaurant and totalisator. The first Racing Manager was Jim Woods, the Director of Racing was Terry Meynell and the first trainers were Bill Horton, Christine Lawlor, A Coppin, T Smith and one Charlie Lister. Lawlor claimed the first ever big winner for the track when Hopalong Dandy won the Ebor Stakes in 1982.
Another trainer that appeared on opening night was Geoff DeMulder and he joined the track in 1984. DeMulder was responsible for training Nippy Law who won the Greyhound Derby Consolation and Oxfordshire Stakes. Rita Hayward won the Steel City Cup two years later with Well Rigged in 1986.
Racing took place on Monday, Thursday and Saturday evenings and the nature of the large track soon attracted some of the sports best greyhounds. Nottingham was lucky to experience two of the greatest, starting with Scurlogue Champ who broke the track record in October 1985 and then Ballyregan Bob. Bob won two races here that formed part of his world record breaking run during November 1985 & April 1986 with the first run creating a new track record.
It was also in 1986 that Coventry closed resulting in the Eclipse competition finding a new home at Nottingham. In April 1989 the ‘Outside Sumner’ hare was replaced by the Bramich and race distances were re-measured as 310, 500, 700 & 747m.
In 1988 Terry Corden took over Nottingham from Wiseville Ltd, Corden had recently sold Derby and had been successful during the property boom. Jim Woods left to join Monmore and was replaced by Mick Smith before Peter Robinson took the hot seat. One of the first tasks of the new owners was to invest in new facilities and in 1989 the track underwent a considerably upgrade.
A new competition to the track in 1990 was the National Sprint, the important race had struggled to find a home since the closure of Harringay but the management decide they needed another race in addition to the Eclipse. The event would be held towards the end of the year and was known as the Peter Derrick Christmas Cracker for a few years.
In 1995 Spring Rose trained by Charlie Lister finished second by Elliots Gem in the inaugural Puppy Classic with punters quickly realising that the white and fawn bitch would be a special stayer. This was proven to be the case the following year when Spring Rose won the Grand Prix. Wembley also closed in 1996 and Nottingham was awarded the prestigious Select Stakes as a consequence. It was clear that Nottingham’s stature was growing and now hosted four major competitions.
The Nottingham trainers were also making their mark on the open race circuit with Dawn Wheatley nearly claiming the English Derby in 1994 with Ayr Flyer. With Charlie Lister representing the track at various times it was inevitable that a classic success would soon arrive and that success was the ultimate prize when the phenomenal Some Picture won the 1997 Greyhound Derby and Scottish Derby.
Nottingham was now well established and regarded as an excellent track, Terry Corden had brought his family into the fold, daughter Rachel and son Nathan were now both heavily involved in the running of the track.
Nottingham remains a successful stadium and the only disappointing fact for them in the since the turn of the century is the lack of major open race wins. The likes of Toms View (Phil McComish), Tuftys Pearletta (Laurence Tuffin), Salacres Polizzi (Peter Harnden) and Romeo recruit (David Firmager) have all won big races but it is little reward for a 15 year period. However the prestige of the track remains high with a fifth event (the British Breeders taken from Hall Green) now run at the track and selection as the host track for the 2015 BAGS championship, a competition that produced the closest finish possible.