Greyhound racing: A look at April’s Category 1 finals

Just like the weather, as the seasons turn from winter to spring, the 2022 greyhound racing season is heating up. We have had 10 fantastic Category 1 finals already this campaign — correct at the time of writing — with the Essex Vase at Romford kicking things off at the end of January, where Coolavanny Aunty prevailed on his favourite status with the greyhound betting sites.

But, looking at the Greyhound Board of Great Britain’s list of Category 1 finals for this season, there is still plenty to look forward to over the remainder of the year. And where better to start than with April’s big races? That said, read on as we take a look at next month’s top-category finales…

3 April: Springbok – Central Park

The Springbok, the first Category 1 final of the month, offers up something a little different to your standard greyhound contest — as it is one of just a few races on the calendar to take place over hurdles.

The leading event of the season for novice jumpers, the Springbok was formed in 1937 — taking place at the iconic White City Stadium in London right up until its closure in 1985, when the 480-metre race was moved to Wimbledon.

Rehomed again in 2017, moving to Central Park in Kent as Wimbledon sadly shut its door, the £5,000-to-the-winner race has remained at the track since.

21 April: Grand Prix – Sunderland

Not to be confused with the original Grand Prix, a greyhound contest that was granted classic status in 1971 and was held at Walthamstow in east London from 1945 to 2007, this race was inaugurated in 2007 and is hosted by Sunderland Greyhound Stadium.

Contested over 640m, the Grand Prix was not held by its new owners, the Arena Racing Company — who bought Sunderland Stadium in 2017 — for successive years in 2019 and 2020.

However, it made its long-awaited return last year, albeit as a Category 2 contest, with Coolavanny Bani winning the mere £3,000 prize purse for Newcastle-based trainer Angela Harrison. The Grand Prix will return to Category 1 status this year, making it a more lucrative contest once again!

28 April: Laurels – Perry Barr

One of several major Category 1 finals to take place at Perry Barr Stadium in Birmingham, the Laurels is a race filled with history and prestige — even boasting the title of being an Original Classic contest!

Formed in 1930, the 480m race was held at Wimbledon Stadium for almost 70 years before making the move up north to Belle Vue Stadium in 1998. The closure of the Manchester-based track in 2017 meant it was then switched to Newcastle.

However, after just two years in the North East and the Laurels not taking place in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the race returned last April — but was hosted at Perry Barr, where it will take place again this year. Havana Class, who was heavily backed as the joint-favourite in the greyhound betting tips, gifted Liz McNair the £6,500 prize purse last year.