Nottingham trainer and GBGB director Peter Harnden is to quit Nottingham and join Towcester from the first of August.
The GBGB trainers rep was one of the first to sign a contract with ARC before immediately resigning, and is thereby free to jump ship to join the Derby venue. He has had the second highest number of graded runners at the track this year, behind Analiese Thompson, who herself recently handed in her notice.
The son of former Long Eaton promoter Don Harnden has run his kennel strength down to around 50 greyhounds, but is a successful businessman in his own right and is not dependent on greyhound racing to earn a living.
Harnden said: “I had been planning to quit in the next couple of years anyway. My nephew loves the dogs and wanted to be involved in the industry, but how could I justify supporting him?
“But I’ve had some long hard conversations with Kevin Boothby and I am totally convinced on his ambitions for the next ten years. So it was on that basis that I decided to take this action.”
Towcester are the net benefactors of some SIS fixture re-scheduling.
Towcester will replace Harlow for the Monday night fixtures with the Essex track taking over the Wednesday evening slot from Central Park. The moves comes as the Northamptonshire track announced the return of prize money to pre-lockdown levels.
Towcester promoter Kevin Boothby said: “We desperately need the extra fixture. We will be announcing the arrival of a number of new trainers very shortly. We will also be switching our open races to Sunday afternoon. If they become inundated, we may even run some on Tuesdays too. And for proper prize money!
“We still have a waiting list for Towcester and I plan to announce our appointment plans for Suffolk Downs early next week. As for Oxford, well its just off the scale. We have had so many applications that I just can’t tell you. We even have people planning to build new kennels with plans to race there.
“In fact, work will be getting underway there from Saturday and we plan to be racing ahead of schedule.”
Towcester Racecourse to be home of the English Greyhound Derby for next five years....
Following a meeting of the Derby panel, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain is delighted to announce that not only will Towcester Racecourse host the Greyhound Derby in 2022, they will also host it for the next five years – up to and including 2026.
Having reviewed Towcester’s detailed bid, the panel were unanimous in supporting the track’s 2022 bid and also recommended to the main GBGB Board that it should, subject to contract, be awarded the hosting of the event until 2026. This recommendation was subsequently agreed by the GBGB Board.
Mark Bird, Managing Director of GBGB, said:
“We are pleased that the Greyhound Derby now has a more permanent home and we look forward to seeing it grow and evolve during its time at Towcester. Our thanks to Towcester for submitting their bid and for their continued enthusiasm for hosting our sport’s premier race. We look forward to working closely with them to ensure the 2022 Derby and those that follow are a real success.”
Kevin Boothby, Promoter at Towcester Racecourse, said:
“We are absolutely delighted that Towcester will be the home of the Greyhound Derby for the next five years. We put on a good show last year under difficult circumstances and we look forward to putting on an even bigger and better one next year.
“We are so lucky to have the grounds and space here at Towcester and, with more time to plan, we will seek to give our spectators a fantastic experience whilst ensuing the stars of our sport receive the very best care and attention whilst at the track. In terms of prize money, we are committing to a minimum of £175,000 a year for the winners of the Derby and – if we are able – we will look to increase this.
“We are so pleased and thank the GBGB Board and the Derby panel for their support.”