Oxford Stadium

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Oxford Stadium
Oxford Stadium 2000 executive suites and restaurant.png
LocationSandy Lane, Cowley, Oxfordshire, OX4 6LJ
Coordinates51°43′35″N 1°12′1″W / 51.72639°N 1.20028°W / 51.72639; -1.20028Coordinates: 51°43′35″N 1°12′1″W / 51.72639°N 1.20028°W / 51.72639; -1.20028
OwnerRisk Capital Partners
SurfaceSand
Construction
Opened31 March 1939
Renovated1986
Expanded2000
Closed2012

Oxford Stadium is a former greyhound racing[1] and speedway venue in Oxford, located in Sandy Lane, Cowley.

Races were held every Saturday evening with afternoon BAGS (Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service) racing on Friday and Sunday. Race evenings also included Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings at various times throughout the years.

Stadium facilities[edit]

There was a 350-seater grandstand restaurant overlooking the track, with three executive suites and large general public areas named after Oxford's greatest greyhounds Sandwinder, Security Sam, Self Made and Perth Pat. Conference and business facilities were also available. There is a go-karting track enclosed within the speedway track, which is popular among Oxfordshire residents.

Origins[edit]

The stadium was constructed in 1938 on the site of a 'flapping' (non regulated) track where owners could turn up and run their greyhounds around an oval on the days selected for racing. The rear wheel of a jacked up motor car was used to drive the lure around the track.[2][self-published source] The location was on Sandy Lane, in Cowley, Oxfordshire and was a short walk from the famous Oxford motor factories built by Morris Motors.[3]

The back straight was adjacent to the Great Western Railway Thame Branch line (now the BMW freight line). A main grandstand building was erected and the stadium joined the regulatory governing body of the National Greyhound Racing Club (NGRC).[4] The owner of the land at the time was a Mr Johnson, and he agreed a 99-year lease with a Mr Leslie Vernon Calcutt.

Speedway[edit]

Speedway was an integral part of the stadium and was run every year from 1939 up to 2008. The team known as the Oxford Cheetahs won the United Kingdoms premier competition five times. They were champions in 1964, 1985, 1986, 1989 and 2001. The facilities remain intact today.

Speedway at Oxford Stadium
Speedway at Oxford in 1981

Greyhound racing[edit]

Opening[edit]

The inaugural race night was on 31 March 1939 and was officially opened by Lord Denham with races over 310, 525 and 735 yards. The track trainers were Bill Davies, Bill Higgins, Paddy Mullins and Mr Preston. The first race was won by Hunting Snipe the 2-1 favourite.[5]

1940s[edit]

During the second world war the track closed and reopened on several occasions but generally raced on Saturday afternoons. In 1941 Leslie Calcutt purchased Irish Grand National winner 'The Gunner' for £400 and the Jack Young trained hurdler won 11 successive open races drawing in large crowds and in 1943 Dark Tiger won the Trafalgar Cup.[2]

In 1944 a fire destroyed the main stand, it was reported that a newspaper had blown onto a heater. Also in 1944 Winnie of Berrow won the Eclipse Stakes.[6]

The track was described as a good size course with a good run-up to the first bend. The hare system was an 'Inside McWhirter track-less' and race distances were now 290, 455, 500 and 715 yards. There were kennel facilities on site for 132 greyhounds; fees were charged at one guinea per week. 3s per day. Amenities included the Oxford Stadium club 5s enclosure, Oxford Stadium racing club 2s 3d enclosure.[4]

In 1947 Calcutt was appointed as Director of Bristol Greyhound Racing Association Ltd and one year later Narrogar Ann won the Western Two-Year Old Produce Stakes.[7]

1950s[edit]

In the summer of 1952 Leslie Calcutt fell ill and had to go to hospital for a major operation, whilst recuperating at Acland nursing home he suffered a relapse and died 3 August aged just 49. The Bristol Greyhound Racing Association was soon to change their name to Bristol Stadium Ltd and they took control of Oxford following the death of Calcutt. Kensington Perfection won the 1952 British Breeders Produce Stakes Finals at Catford Stadium and Stamford Bridge and the 1953 Eastville Stadium Produce Stakes and Regency.[2]

Owner-trainers were allowed to race their greyhounds at the track and included Paddy Sweeney a respected veterinary surgeon. In 1957 Racing Manager John Hare introduced the Two Year Old Produce Stakes. Bill Higgins (10) and Jack Young (9) won the first 19 Oxford trainer championship titles between them from 1939-1957. Higgins died in 1958 and was replaced by Joe Farrand for a second spell at Oxford. [2]

1960s[edit]

Drum Major II recorded a fiftieth track win in 1961 and in 1964 the Oxfordshire Stakes was introduced. In 1967 Oxford was one of the first four tracks to be awarded an inaugural BAGS (Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service) contract along with Hackney, Kings Heath and Park Royal. The decade ended with new investment which saw a new supporters club building constructed, it would be used for functions.[2]

1970s[edit]

Perth Pat trained by Jim Morgan brought the first ever classic race success to Oxford following her win in the 1970 Oaks. In the same year Henry Kibble secured a tenth track trainers title. In 1974 a new 'Outside Sumner' hare system was introduced.[2]

In 1975 Bristol Stadium Ltd agreed a deal worth £235,000 with the Oxford City Council housing committee. A group formed SOS (Save Our Stadium) and a petition with 27,000 names was lodged with the council. Local MP Michael Heseltine called for a public meeting which gave SOS the chance to find a buyer. The stadium closed on 31 December 1975 until further notice but reopened during March 1976 and eventually found a buyer in 1977 when Northern Sports purchased the track for £250,000. The threat of permanent closure had been prevented by David Hawkins the Managing Director of Northern Sports.[2]

1980s[edit]

The resident kennels were demolished in 1980 because the contract trainers were now employed and one of the trainers called Jack Coker reached the final of the 1980 English Greyhound Derby with Young Breeze. In 1981 Careless Dragon trained by Jim Morgan won the Trafalgar Cup one year before Northern Sports announced plans to invest heavily into Oxford and sister track Ramsgate Stadium. Mick Wheble arrived as Racing Manager in 1984, Joe Farrand retired after 45 years as a trainer and Arthur Hitch won the 1984 BBC TV Trophy with Weston Prelude.

The investment promised came to fruition in 1986 when Northern Sports spent £1.5 million on a new three tier grandstand restaurant and sports centre including squash courts, a snooker club, gymnasium, sauna and various other facilities. The stadium underwent considerable success with significant increases in attendances and totalisator turnover. Charity events featured appearances from Desert Orchid, Bob Champion, Henry Cooper, Jenny Pitman and many others. The sports leading trainer Geoff De Mulder joined the track and the speedway team became the leading team in the United Kingdom with four times World Champion Hans Nielsen as their captain.[2]

In 1987 Sandwinder trained by Vicky Holloway became the track champion and in 1988 the Pall Mall Stakes was switched from the closing Harringay Stadium to Oxford. The first running was won by Fearless Ace and the winning trophy was presented by George Best. As the 1980s ended Maurice Massey won a fifth trainers track title.[2]

1990s[edit]

The recent success had made Oxford one of the leading provincial tracks in the UK and the first ever Derby success came in 1994 when Ringa Hustle trained by Tony Meek won the 1994 English Greyhound Derby. Kind of Magic won the 1993 Scurry Gold Cup for Litzi Miller who herself would win eight trainers titles. However, as the 90s progressed Northern Sports parent company Hawkins of Harrow were beginning to suffer from the recession that was affecting their other business interests in construction and garden centres.[2]

In 1995 Hawkins of Harrow called in the receivers and Oxford was made a going concern. The stadium attracted a list of potential buyers but it was Donald Joyce a former member of SOS who purchased the stadium in 1996 and then sold it on for a considerable profit to the Greyhound Racing Association (GRA) in 1999.[8]

2000-2012[edit]

The GRA made immediate changes with a new multimillion-pound extension completed during 2000. The old supporters club had been demolished making way for an extension to the grandstand restaurant and addition of three large executive suites. In addition there was a new racing surface and Swaffham hare system costing a further £130,000. The circumference of the track remained at 395 metres, with race distances of 250, 450, 595, 645 and 845 metres.

A classic race called the Cesarewitch switched to Oxford from Catford in 2001 and the major competitions were screened live on SKY television.[9] Angie Kibble won six trainers titles and traditional boxing day meetings continued to draw in a capacity attendance from the local population. The stadium continued to be frequented by the famous which included Ant & Dec, Zara Phillips and Vinnie Jones.[2]

Closure[edit]

The closure of the stadium was sealed when GRA's parent company Wembley plc was broken apart and GRA were subject to a takeover by Risk Capital Partners with development partner Galliard Homes in 2005 for £52.4m. Plans for 150 houses and 75 flats were mooted but the council publicly stated they were in favour of keeping the site for leisure use.[10] The racing continued for seven years until the GRA closed the stadium with the last greyhound meeting was held on 29 December 2012 in front of a capacity crowd with the last winner being Moorstown Mystiq trained by Richard Baker.

Competitions[edit]

During the year there were five main greyhound events held at Oxford up until the end of 2012, they were -

Track records[edit]

At closing

Distance
metres
Greyhound Time Date Trainer
250 Miss Lee 14.65 sec 24 March 2009 David Pruhs
450 Up For Sam 26.20 sec 11 February 2010 Carol Weatherall
595 Bower Turbo 35.87 sec 25 March 2008 Richard Yeates
645 Primitive Way 38.98 sec 25 March 2008 David Pruhs
845 Tralee Crazy 52.16 sec 22 March 1998 Nick Savva
1040 Honeygar Belle 67.63 sec 14 November 1989 Peter Billingham
450 H Druids Mickey Joe 27.12 sec 5 April 2005 Seamus Cahill
645 H Bozy Blue Blaze 40.94 sec 6 February 2001 John Mullins

Former (Pre-metric)

Yards Greyhound Time Trainer Date Yards Greyhound Time Trainer Date
290 Golden Monarch II 16.26 Mrs.V.Bevis 17.07.1948 500 Lucky Me 27.87 Len Drewery 04.07.1967
290 Gortnagory 16.16 P.J.Power 18.09.1948 500 Lucky Me 27.79 Len Drewery 07.07.1967
310 Hunting Castle 17.86 Bill Higgins 10.04.1939 500 Billy The Mink 27.74 Cutler 18.08.1967
310 Oldcastletown Hope 17.52 Jimmy Rimmer 13.04.1939 500 Discretions 27.70 David Geggus 23.08.1968
310 Manhattan Mercury 17.48 Bill Savage 19.05.1939 525 Connors Company 30.05 Paddy Mullins 14.04.1939
310 Hot Knight 17.44 Philip Dooley 27.06.1939 525 Grosvenor Friendship 30.05 Jim Syder Sr. 26.07.1940
310 John Reaper 17.36 Jack Young 20.09.1940 525 Much Jay 29.99 Bill Davies 13.06.1941
310 Galtee Ham 17.36 Bill Davies 09.11.1940 525 Whitey Marsh 29.95 Jack Young 10.03.1945
310 Galtee Ham 17.28 Bill Davies 23.11.1940 525 Garnaman Invader 29.85 Bill Higgins 17.03.1945
310 Black Invasion 17.26 Bill Higgins 24.05.1947 525 Winnie of Berrow 29.84 Joe Farrand 20.07.1945
455 Earl of Kilally 26.22 Reg Holland 24.07.1948 525 Good West End 29.84 Bill Higgins 28.04.1946
455 Lucky Stoker 26.15 Bill Gigg 24.08.1948 525 Ryans Rose 29.78 Jack Young 17.05.1946
455 Knocker's Latest 26.00 J.P.H.Bott 07.09.1948 525 Latest Surprise 29.55 Lilah Shennan 16.08.1947
475 Lord Peter 27.88 Jack Young 24.03.1945 715 Northam Star 41.18 Leslie Reynolds 06.07.1948
475 Sound Touch 27.59 Jack Young 07.04.1945 715 Come Up First 40.72 Bob Burls 13.07.1948
475 Anglesey Angel 27.45 Paddy Boyle 14.06.1945 715 Carmen Lad 40.95* Unknown 09.08.1964
475 Special Display 27.40 Unknown 1945 715 Loyal Blue 40.89 George Waterman 03.05.1963
475 Please Peter 27.39 G Scadgell 05.08.1946 735 Duke McNab 42.80 Bill Davies 10.04.1939 dh
475 Please Peter 27.22 G Scadgell 05.08.1946 735 Courtenay Nigger 42.80 Paddy Mullins 10.04.1939 dh
475 Rushbrooke Bob 27.04 Stan Raymond 23.08.1946 735 Milton Maggie 42.25 Culley 21.04.1939
500 Colin Ranger 28.60 Norman Merchant 03.07.1948 735 Nazeing Ambitious 43.39 Unknown 1946
500 Pembroke Fair 28.32 Jack Young 06.07.1948 735 Mischievous Red 43.20 C Crowley 20.08.1946
500 Patsys Record 28.24 Fred Farey 13.07.1948 735 Mayfair Mite 42.92 Leslie Reynolds 26.06.1948
500 Pembroke Fair 28.15 Jack Young 13.07.1948 915 Jesters King 54.54 Unknown 07.04.1964
500 Don Gipsey 28.04 Leslie Reynolds 14.09.1948 500 H Muncross Dan 29.95 Hugh Kennedy 26.08.1949
500 Kensington Perfection 28.25* Bill Higgins 11.05.1954 500 H Outlaw O'Leer 29.59 Jack Chadwick 19.06.1954
500 Lauradella Champion 28.19 Unknown 1963 500 H Outlaw O'Leer 29.48 Jack Chadwick 27.05.1955
500 Lindsay Sue 28.12 Henry Kibble 20.08.1965 500 H Drealistown Leader 29.60* Ernie Westcott 03.05.1963
500 Tony's Blaze 28.10 Frank White 20.08.1965 525 H Brindled Beggar 30.91 Culley 30.06.1939
500 Orphan Swan 28.10 Paddy McEvoy 27.08.1965 525 H Gypsy Win 30.82 W Franks 26.04.1943
500 Thats Airy 28.01 Geoff De Mulder 19.08.1966 525 H What A Lad 30.70 Jack Young 25.09.1943
500 Laughing Flame 27.94 Peter Collett 19.08.1966 525 H Baytown Brougham 30.60 Bill Higgins 21.04.1945
500 Tell Nobody 27.88 Eric Adkins 19.08.1966
* After the introduction of ray timing

Former (Post-metric) [11]

Yards Greyhound Time Trainer Date Yards Greyhound Time Trainer Date
250 Start Again 15.61 Jim Morgan 25.03.77 595 Little Honcho 36.18 Linda Pruhs 05.02.05
250 Tonapandy 15.31 Maurice Massey 03.02.79 595 Bower Turbo 35.87 Richard Yeates 25.03.08
250 Ballybeg Sailor 15.29 Vicky Holloway 1984 645 Black Beetle 40.93 Henry Kibble 11.05.76
250 Westmead Account 15.28 Terry Atkins 05.10.85 645 Hunscote Dan 40.80 Brian Price 31.05.76
250 Hardy Champ 15.10 Geoff De Mulder 23.11.85 645 Black Beetle 40.21 Henry Kibble 08.06.76
250 Rapid Mover 15.10 John Wiseman 23.06.87 645 Hunscote Dan 40.19 Brian Price 07.09.76
250 Debbys Lad 14.96 Tony Meek 28.10.88 645 Ballybeg Delight 39.92 Vicky Holloway 13.10.79
250 Kirks Late Again 14.95 Gloria Stringer 10.05.05 645 Lugwardine Lord 39.70 Ann Finch 07.10.86
250 Ballymac Gloria 14.88 Nick Colton 14.03.06 645 Run Free 39.46 Tony Meek 11.11.86
250 Blonde Chico 14.76 John Mullins 12.06.07 645 Aztec Sun 39.39 Nick Savva 22.03.98
250 Jacksheaboy 14.71 Afzal Ali 08.04.08 645 Black Pear 39.36 Wayne Wrighting 05.08.04
250 Miss Lee 14.65 David Pruhs 24.03.09 645 Primitive Way 38.98 David Pruhs 25.03.08
450 Clear Reason 27.50 Mrs Dorin Clark 12.07.74 845 Donovans Bar 54.61 Des Ellington 1975
450 By Chance 27.32 Henry Kibble 03.10.75 845 Askinvillar King 54.29 J Hammond 18.03.77
450 Dale Silver 27.30 Jim Morgan 04.05.76 845 Gan On Rita 54.19 Ted Dickson 10.11.79
450 Oulartwick Kybo 27.19 Unknown 1976 845 Gan On Rita 53.90 Ted Dickson 25.04.80
450 Greenfield Fox 27.18 Terry O'Sullivan 04.10.77 845 Crickets Delight 53.49 Vicky Holloway 17.09.82
450 Rathduff Spring 27.13 Geoff De Mulder 07.10.77 845 Jaroadel 52.91 Bertie Gaynor 20.08.86
450 Rathduff Spring 27.03 Geoff De Mulder 14.10.77 845 Tralee Crazy 52.16 Nick Savva 22.03.98
450 First General 26.97 Tommy Johnston 05.10.79 450 H Right Arkle 28.42 Ted Dickson 10.11.79
450 Nippy Law 26.90 Geoff De Mulder 29.09.84 450 H Hunday Doss 28.35 Unknown 1980
450 Parkers Sage 26.89 Bertie Gaynor 28.09.85 450 H Shyan Trader 28.19 Phil Rees 1980
450 Local Fan 26.87 Derek Law 28.06.88 450 H Tom View Yard 28.19 Unknown 1981
450 Money Matters 26.81 Geoff De Mulder 27.08.88 450 H Cushie Sandy 28.19 Paddy McEvoy 02.04.82
450 Fearless Ace 26.80 Theo Mentzis 25.03.89 450 H Growing Power 28.05 Norah McEllistrim 1983
450 Carmels Prince 26.72 Michael Compton 20.10.90 450 H Burgess Rocket 27.85 Jim Morgan 05.10.85
450 Droopys Eric 26.64 Henry Tasker 14.03.98 450 H Trelawney 27.81 Vicky Holloway 18.02.87
450 Seskin Judy 26.62 Angie Kibble 17.03.98 450 H Cygnet Man 27.49 Tommy Foster 10.01.89
450 Lets Go Ebby 26.61 Tony Meek 17.03.98 450 H Faoides Country 27.47 Terry Kibble 24.08.91
450 Farloe Club 26.57 Terry Dartnall 17.03.00 450 H Lord Pat 27.34 Ron Bicknell 07.03.00
450 Droopys Keegan 26.57 Brian Clemenson 09.12.03 450 H Enjoy Your Luck 27.32 Jason Foster 18.07.00
450 Paramount Silver 26.37 Paul Liddle 01.04.05 450 H Born To Go 27.25 Tommy Foster 14.08.01
450 Up For Sam 26.20 Carol Weatherall 11.02.10 450 H Druids Mickey Jo 27.12 Seamus Cahill 05.04.05
595 Black Toto 37.51 Gilly Hepden 24.05.01 645 H Keen Fowler 41.89 Andy Agnew 14.05.82
595 Graceful Amy 37.34 Steve Davis 29.05.01 645 H Monarch Tom 41.63 Norah McEllistrim 19.01.85
595 Magpie Express 36.91 Ron Bicknell 23.06.01 645 H Trap Flier 41.45 Norah McEllistrim 19.07.88
595 El Tara 36.75 Angie Kibble 14.08.01 645 H Mixer Mick 41.17 Gordon Hodson 25.10.88
595 Easy Dilemma 36.70 Angie Kibble 17.08.02 645 H Cygnet Man 40.96 Tommy Foster 07.02.89
595 Greenacre Lin 36.36 Brian Clemenson 20.05.04 645 H Bozy Blue Blaze 40.94 John Mullins 06.02.01

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Track Search". Greyhound Board of Great Britain. Archived from the original on 25 December 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Baiden, Gary (2009). The History of Oxford Stadium. authorhouse. ISBN 978-1-4490-2054-5.
  3. ^ "OS County Series Oxfordshire 1937-1939". old-maps.co.uk.
  4. ^ a b Tarter, P Howard (1949). Greyhound Racing Encyclopedia. Fleet Publishing Company Ltd.
  5. ^ "Oxford Greyhound Stadium, Lord Denham Performs Opening Ceremony, Saturday 1 April". Oxford Mail. 1939.
  6. ^ Genders, Roy (1981). The Encyclopedia of Greyhound Racing. Pelham Books Ltd. ISBN 07207-1106-1.
  7. ^ Genders, Roy (1990). NGRC book of Greyhound Racing. Pelham Books Ltd. ISBN 0-7207-1804-X.
  8. ^ "Monthly Greyhound Star (Remember When)". Greyhound Star. 2012.
  9. ^ Hobbs, Jonathan (2002). Greyhound Annual 2003. Raceform. ISBN 1-904317-07-3.
  10. ^ http://www.glasgowwired.co.uk/news.php/1472307-Last-races-for-Oxford-greyhound-stadium
  11. ^ "Oxford track records". Greyhound Data.