30 years of greyhounds at Ascot Park Raceway next month

The Southland Greyhound Racing Club celebrates 30 years of racing at Ascot Park Raceway in Invercargill next month and they aim to mark the occasion in style.

While the club has been in existence since 1972, their first raceday at Ascot Park Raceway was on Saturday 14 September 1991, and they will celebrate the milestone almost 30 years later to the day when they race on Sunday 12 September.

To celebrate, the club will hold the 30th Anniversary of Racing at Ascot Park Invercargill Cup for a stake of $10,000, while all other races on the programme on the day will be named after dogs that won on that very first raceday at Ascot.

The public will be able to interact with some pet greyhounds which are part of the Greyhounds As Pets programme (GAP) which rehomes greyhounds after their racing days conclude. There will also be a tote operator on course, Mr Whippy, free pies, sandwiches, savouries, cakes, and tea and coffee, as well as a lolly giveaway for the children. The club will also reveal details of a competition for the public in the very near future. The weekly Farmers Market will also take place at the course that day and the club welcome market-goers to take in some races while there.

Greyhound racing action during trials at Ascot Park Raceway in Invercargill. Photo Credit: Bek Eade.

After the club was established in 1972, they originally raced at Trevor Robinson’s property at Woodlands, the first official meeting there taking place on 9 November 1974, although fun days at that venue in the mid-1960s preceded the formation of the club. The club then moved to race at the Invercargill Showgrounds from 20 March 1976 until 1991, with the first restricted tote meeting on 15 November 1978. While they raced at the Showgrounds, the track was being established at Ascot Park Raceway in time for the September 1991 debut.

Southland Greyhound Racing Club Secretary, Bronwyn Eade says, “It was done on a shoestring budget of around $67 to $70,000. Much was achieved with voluntary labour. The lure system was from Noel Bramich in Australia while my dad, Les McLeod, though his business Les McLeod Contracting, put the track in.

“The track was grass until 2007 when, with the help of a grant from the ILT, sand from Oreti Beach was put in by Noel McIntyre Drainage to make it the safest track surface in New Zealand.

“It is the only track in the South Island with one big bend and long straights, plus it is the only track in New Zealand which operates as part of a Tricode facility with greyhound, harness and thoroughbred racing all held at the course,” says Eade.

The club has some memorabilia on the wall of the north grandstand at the course outlining part of their history and their journey to establishing racing at Ascot Park Raceway, and intend to unveil a plaque at the 12 September meeting to mark 30 years of racing at the venue. They encourage members of the public to come along and join them in celebrating their milestone on Sunday 12 September. The action will commence from 12noon and there is no admission charge.

By Lindsay Beer (on behalf of the Southland Greyhound Racing Club)

Posted on 25 August 2021

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