Brighton & Hove

Brighton & Hove greyhound track
Paul Gillett / geograph.org.uk

Located in the Hove Park area of Brighton & Hove, this East Sussex greyhound stadium is owned by the Gala Coral Group. Race meetings are held on Thursday and Saturday evenings, with three other additional meetings taking place on afternoons. The Brighton Corporation unanimously passed plans to build on the site on Nevill Road in 1928, with the construction being instigated by Charles Wakeling, Freddie Arnold and Major Carlos Campbell. The Greyhound Racing Association had shares in the new company, which was known as the Greyhound Racing Association (Brighton) Ltd.

The track opened for the first time on the second of June 1928 under the title of the Hove Sports Stadium. The first race to be run was the Hove Stakes, which was won by a dog named Costs, who was the 7/4 favourite. In the years that followed, the stadium grew as the popularity of greyhound racing grew, but equally it began to struggle when the sport became less popular in more recent years. It remains open for business, however, which is more than a lot of courses around the UK have been able to say over the past few years.

The Track & Facilities

Brighton track
Brighton track (Paul Gillett / geograph.org.uk)

With a capacity for 2,200 visitors, Brighton & Hove Greyhound Stadium is more than capable of welcoming large numbers of people to the venue to watch some greyhound racing. There is parking for 365 cars as well as disabled facilities if needed. Along with give licensed bars there are two fast food outlets and the Skyline Restaurant, which provides excellent views of the track. You can hire the Nevill Suite Function Room if you’re looking for somewhere to host a private part, whilst baby-change facilities exist for those that might need them.

The circumference of the track is 455 metres, with the run to the first bend coming in at 105 metres for a four-bend race. If it’s a six bend race then it’s 50 metres to the first one. The track races seven different distances, which are as follows:

  • 285m
  • 475m
  • 515m
  • 695m
  • 740m
  • 930m
  • 970m

The other piece of information about the track that might interest you is the fact that it uses an Outside Swaffham hare for the racing.

Major Races & Events

Brighton races at night
Night at the races (steve mcnicholas / Flickr.com)

As with most greyhound tracks around the country, Brighton & Hove Greyhound Stadium has a few different races that are worth drawing your attention to. Most of them are geographically relevant to the course, so there is a lack of any of the big name races that you will read about at other courses. Even so, if you’re thinking of heading to the venue to watch some racing then it would be well worth your time trying to coincide your visit with the running of one of these events if you want to see something special:

The Regency

Inaugurated in 1948, the Regency was originally only open to British-bred greyhounds. Initially known as the Regency Produce Stakes, it was an immediately popular event and attracted interest from 161 British bred litters in the first year and more than 200 litters the year after. It is still a significant event, though the Produce’ was dropped from the name in 1966. That was also the year that it became an event for all-comers, not just British-bred dogs. A Category 1 event on the calendar or greyhound racing, previous winners include the likes of Scurlogue Champ.

The Olympic

Run over a distance of 515 metres, the Olympic started life at Wandsworth Stadium in 1947 before switching to Charlton when Wandsworth closed in 1966. When Charlton also closed five years later, it seemed as though the Olympic would be lost. Eight years later, however, and it was resurrected at Brighton & Hove Greyhound Stadium, remaining there ever since. It was run over 600 yards when at Wandsworth and the same length at Charlton, but has been run over 515 metres since moving to its current location in 1979.

The Brighton Belle

Inaugurated at Brighton & Hove Greyhound Stadium in 1975, the Brighton Belle has remained here ever since. Run over the same distance of 515 metres as the Olympic, it took on its first sponsor in 1991 when Worcester Control came on board. The Racing Post became the sponsor ten years later, with Isonetric Broadband sponsoring the race the following year. It could never quite get a sponsor to stick around for more than a year or two until the bookmaker Coral decided to sponsor it in 2008, remaining the sponsor ever since.

The Sussex Cup

If you’re going to have a race entitled the Sussex Cup, there really is only one venue at which it would be run. So it was that the race first took place at Brighton & Hove Greyhound Stadium in 1972, remaining here ever since. It has also boasted the same length of 515 metres since then, for consistency. Unlike the Brighton Belle, the race has not struggled to keep a sponsor, with Coral taking over from Chas Miller Bookmakers in 2005. The latter bookie had sponsored the race from 1998 for six years prior to that.

In the News

If you find a greyhound racing stadium featured in the news then the chance are that there will be some form of protest taking place about it. That is precisely the reason why Brighton & Hove Greyhound Stadium made the news in December of 2020, with close to 7,000 people signing a petition calling for an end to the sport. The hope of campaigners was that the stadium would follow the greyhound venues in London and close down, but the council said that only the owners, Coral, could be protested against rather than the council itself.

By June of 2021, things had reached such a level that animal rights extremists had to be banned from the stadium and its surrounding roads. Sarah Whitehead had previous been jailed for her protest against Huntingdon Life Sciences, before posting fake bombs and making abusive phone calls to the track. There was a fear that she was going to ratchet up her campaign against the dog track, having been convicted in December of using a megaphone to call bettors and staff there abusive names like paedophiles and wankers.

About Brighton & Hove Greyhound Stadium

Brighton crowds
Brighton greyhound crowds (mat Walker / Flickr.com)

The original track was a primitive one, with the hare having to be wound around the track by hand. It electric lighting wasn’t installed at the venue until a decade after it opened. A hand-operated tote came before that, only for the government to ban tote betting until the 1934 Betting and Lotteries Act was introduced. The kennels were moved to Morley Lodge in Albourne in 1940, with the new facility offering room for more than 200 dogs. An associated breeding kennels was set up nearby, feeding the dog track as a result.

New Management

Things improved steadily until the outbreak of the Second World War, after which the stadium’s popularity grew thanks to the introduction of a new event called the Regency. When the Managing Director, Charles Wakeling, who was also the chairman of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, died, he left the stadium to Major Carlos Campbell. His death in 1958 meant that the Greyhound Racing Association took on the controlling stake. Their first move was to install Gerard Kealey as General Manager, with Peter Shotton becoming Racing Manager.

The two men worked alongside each other to improve the reputation of the track, with racing being held on Wednesday and Saturday evenings during the 1960s. They introduced buffet restaurants and licensed bars, as well as extending the track to a distance of 491 yards. In order to encourage more entries from the north, the stadium introduced travelling payments. The Sussex Cup was run for the first time in 1972, with the Brighton Belle being inaugurated three years later to lend the venue a real sense of itself.

Coral Leisure

One of the biggest moves came about in 1976, when a deal was struck with Coral Leisure for the purchase of Brighton and Romford stadiums. Des Nichols was moved over from Romford to Brighton, replacing Shotton when he moved to Wembley in 1978. The following year, Brighton & Hove Greyhound Stadium saw its fourth major race introduced when the Olympic was added to the venue’s roster. Within the next decade, Brighton’s George Curtis was named Greyhound Trainer of the Year three times.

The Modernisation of the Stadium

In 1986, Brighton-trained Ballyregan Bob broke the world record by winning 32 consecutive races. That was achieved on a grass surface, which was the last one in Britain. Brighton changed to sand in 1987, signalling the start of a modernisation that continued in the years that followed. The 1990s saw numerous changes, including a lost court case the Alliance & Leicester that meant that they had to give up the land where the Orchard Enclosure stood. A new crop of trainers arrived throughout the 1990s, whilst Bill Masters took over from Jim Clayton as Racing Manager in 1994.

Though the track remains one of the best venues in the country, attracting some of the top trainers, there is no question that things aren’t what they once were. Brian Clemenson became the Champion Trainer in 2003, retaining the title in 2004 and 2005. The arrival of trainers like Seamus Cahill and Norah McEllistrim gave the venue an opportunity to carry on showing itself as one of the best tracks around. This publicity increase in 2018 when a deal was signed with Satellite Information Services to broadcast regular racing from the stadium.

The deal saw racing taking place at the track every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday in the afternoons, with evening racing taking place on Thursdays and Saturdays. A year after signing the broadcast deal, the decision was taken to create a new race distance of 500 metres. This wasn’t technically new, with racing over that distance having taken place for the first time back in the 1970s. The 515 metre distance was maintained for any open races that were to be run at the track, which included most of its signature events.

Records at Brighton

The records for each of the distances run at Brighton are as follows:

Distance Record Time Date Set
285 Metres 15.89 Seconds 7th October 2010 / 12th June 2014
475 Metres 27.42 Seconds 22 October 2015 / 3rd May 2017
490 Metres 28.24 Seconds 31st January 2019
500 Metres 28.86 Seconds 23rd January 2020
515 Metres 29.20 Seconds 31st July 2017*
695 Metres 40.73 Seconds 21st June 2005
740 Metres 43.59 Seconds 30th March 2002
945 Metres 57.90 Seconds 12th December 2020

The * represents the fact that the record over this distance was set during the 2007 running of the Sussex Cup Final. Barnfield On Air was the dog that achieved the feat, not only setting the fasted time over the distance but also in one of the track’s most prestigious races.