Cowley Puppy Collar off to a flyer at Oxford Stadium

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Category One greyhound racing returned to Oxford Stadium on Friday following a decade-long absence and Managing Director Kevin Boothby was thrilled with the public’s response.

Round One of the £10,000 Cowley Puppy Collar saw 48 of the UK’s fastest greyhounds aged 24 months or younger take to the track with a view to qualifying for the competition’s second round.

Hundreds of dedicated racegoers and Oxford locals in search of a fun night out packed the stadium’s terraces, bars and panoramic view restaurant with an entertaining 11-race card keeping punters busy.

Tens of thousands more tuned in at home with the action broadcast globally via Racing Post Greyhound TV, who have committed to showing the stadium’s Friday night fixtures for the remainder of the year.

Mr Boothby said ensuring first-time visitors are treated to the ‘wow-factor’ is one of his key priorities as part of the Cowley venue’s regeneration project.

“Greyhound racing enthusiasts have really got behind Oxford’s reopening and it’s great to see so many familiar faces trackside week in, week out,” said Kevin. “But there is a bigger picture to consider where we must package our sport as a fun, cost-friendly, night out for family and friends if we are to truly put Oxford Stadium back on the map.

“There are people living and working in Oxford now who may never have stepped foot in the city when our stadium was open in its previous era. Attracting those people through our doors to greyhound racing, speedway and our community projects will help take our regeneration campaign to the next level.

“We’ve been encouraged by the response to our Friday and Saturday evening fixtures and look forward to hosting more top-quality racing in years to come.”

The competition’s ante-post favourite FromPostToPillar stole Friday’s card, winning Heat Seven in 26.93 seconds – an average speed of 38.71mph. 

Family and friends of the late Oxford United legend Joey Beauchamp were responsible for the biggest cheer of the night when Oi Oi Joey – the greyhound named in his honour – won

Heat One by a short head.

Greyhounds who finished in the first three of each heat booked their spot in Friday’s Round Two card with the Semi-Finals scheduled a week later, October 21, and the £10,000 Grand Final on October 28.

Kevin added: “There were some very impressive puppies on show, and no doubt owners of the winning dogs will be counting down the days until Friday’s card.

“The Cowley Puppy Collar is the first of two major competitions Oxford Stadium will host before Christmas, with the bet365 Challenge Cup scheduled for December. Support from the industry has been phenomenal and demonstrates a clear demand for the sport’s return to Oxford.

“We would encourage anyone yet to experience the thrill of live racing to join us for Friday’s second round and get up close and personal with the dogs, who are the starts of our sport.”

Tickets for Round Two of the Cowley Puppy Collar are on sale now and can be purchased from just £9. Restaurant and VIP executive suite bookings are also being taken via the stadium’s website – www.oxford-stadium.co.uk.

Race one is scheduled to begin at 6.38pm.

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