English Greyhound Derby: What Is It, When Is It and How Much Do They Win?

 

Every sport has its pinnacle – from the World Cup and Champions League in soccer to the Olympics for elite-level athletes. For greyhound racing, which was once one of the most popular sports in the UK and Ireland, the zenith is winning the English Greyhound Derby.

First established in 1927 – making it one of the oldest major sporting championships around, the English Greyhound Derby brings together the 200 fastest dogs in racing, with owners battling it out for the £175,000 ($215,000) top prize and the chance to call themselves the champion.

Highly Competitive Field

Leading the way in 2023 are Liz and Rab McNair, the trainer-owner couple who have many outstanding dogs in training at their yard. But it’s Fromposttopillar that is expected to give the duo their first shot at winning the Derby; the two-year-old is the favorite in the latest greyhound odds at 14/1.

Defeat last time out on his home Central Park track has spooked the markets, though. Fromposttopillar was priced as short as 4/7 to win on that March runout but succumbed to a five-length defeat to another English Greyhound Derby contender in Hopes Paddington. His trainer, Mark Wallis, is already a two-time Derby winner, and he may have another on his hands if Hopes Paddington can maintain his advantage over the favorite in the weeks ahead.

The 2023 edition of the English Greyhound Derby will get underway on May 25 with the first-round heats, before the qualifying process continues until there are just the finest left to contest the final at Towcester Racecourse on June 1.

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There used to be a sporting venue in London called the White City Stadium, which is long-forgotten now but which used to host the English Greyhound Derby – amongst a number of other events, including the 1908 Olympics – thanks to its huge capacity.

A Long History

The 1939 Derby was attended by a whopping 92,000 people, which outlines not only the scale of White City but also the popularity of greyhound racing under a century ago.

Unfortunately, time has played a cruel hand on both counts, with White City Stadium since demolished (it’s the site of a business park now) and the English Greyhound Derby experiencing a nomadic existence since the 1980s that has taken in stints at the Wimbledon Stadium (also demolished) and Nottingham, before setting up residence at Towcester.

This Midlands venue has had troubles of its own in the past, including bankruptcy in 2018. But the current proprietor, Kevin Boothby, signed a lease to operate Towcester until 2029, with a deal secured to host the English Greyhound Derby until at least 2027.

With the future of the race secured, the leading trainers and owners can plot their journey towards immortality at the Derby. It will take a long time for anyone to match Charlie Lister’s seven wins in the race, if anybody can match it at all, and international connections continue to dominate; there’s been just one British-trained winner of the Derby in the past eight years.

So who will add their name to the long and storied history of the English Greyhound Derby in 2023?

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