- Address: Brandywell Grounds, Londonderry, BT48 9LB
- Website: facebook.com/Brandywelltrack
Also known as the Brandywell Greyhound Track, Derry Greyhound Stadium is operated at the Brandywell Showgrounds next to Northern Ireland’s Brandywell Stadium. The track was relocated in 2018, having previously been around the football pitch, instead moving it next door to it. The course itself actually opened its doors for the first time in 1932, being one of only a few in Northern Ireland and was considered by most to be one of the smallest in the country when it first opened. Racing takes place on Monday evenings, with schooling and qualifying trials on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Racing was the responsibility of the Brandywell Greyhound Racing Company, with racing continuing even when football was cancelled because of the Troubles. The only time the race track was closed for a prolonged period of time was in 1971, though there had been a disagreement between management and Derry FC three years earlier when the latter decided to put the rent up. That saw the racetrack having to pay £20 per week, an increase from twelve pound and six before then. The track’s most prestigious event is the Irish Greyhound Derby Trial Stake, which takes place every year.
The Track & Facilities
The greyhound racing track closed its doors on the third of December 2016, with the stadium being demolished entirely. Plans were made for a new stand-alone greyhound track, which was part of a £7 million development that was funded by Derry City and Strabane District Council in conjunction with the Executive Office. Sufficed to say, therefore, that the track is modern looking, whilst the facilities are welcoming to visitors. The fact that it is owned by Derry City and Strabane District Council means that there is a public duty to keep it in good order.
At the time of writing, the following distances are run on the track:
- 300 yards
- 500 yards
- 525 yards
- 600 yards
- 720 yards
- 920 yards
In terms of what is available inside the stadium, it is obviously much smaller and less all-encompassing than some of the bigger tracks that you will find on the British mainland. Even so, there is somewhere that you can get a bite to eat and there are toilet facilities, as well as bars where you can go to get a drink or two.
Major Races & Events
It is fair to say that you won’t get the same level of races that you’d be used to experiencing at some of the bigger greyhound stadiums on the British mainland. Yet it is worth pointing out that Derry Greyhound Stadium was the only one in Northern Ireland for a time, so it is not as if it is totally without any races worth mentioning. Here is a look at the biggest race that takes place at Brandywell Greyhound Track, so you have some sense of what you might experience if you head here for a night’s racing:
Irish Greyhound Derby Trial Stakes
There is no question that the biggest race to take place at the track is the trial event for the Irish Greyhound Derby. The actual race takes place at Shelbourne Park, just to the south of Dublin, and is considered to be one of the biggest races in the greyhound racing calendar. In that sense, it sits alongside the English Greyhound Derby. As you can imagine, qualification for the event is fierce, which is where the Irish Greyhound Derby Trial Stakes comes into its own, giving dogs a chance to be involved in the main event.
In the News
As you might imagine, Derry Dog Track isn’t in the news quite as often as some of the more famous dog tracks around the country. That isn’t to say that it never appears in the news section of local papers or websites, however. In 2022, for example, the greyhound stadium was talked about thanks to the performance of Sniper Ria. Having made it into the notebooks more than two years before thanks to an impressive performance at Brandywell, the three and a half-year-old racked up a record-breaking performance at the track.
She stopped the clock at 16.40 seconds when racing in the Support Your Local Track Sprint, delighting her owner Kevin O’Kane. That added to her eight career wins with the sprint track record for Derry, which was enough to steal the headlines from Mineola King. He made it five wins from five starts at the track, but it was Sniper Ria that caused a true stir. It all happened on what was quite an exciting card, proving that it doesn’t just need to be the big tracks in the rest of the United Kingdom that racing lovers should be talking about.
About the Derry Greyhound Stadium
The sport of greyhound racing tends to not have many tracks in Northern Ireland, largely because they come under the jurisdiction of the Bord na gCon, which is the Irish Greyhound Board. This is as opposed to the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, which controls greyhound stadiums on the British mainland. The Derry track first saw racing take place on it in 1932, with the inaugural running occurring on the 29th of July 1932 under the leadership of Hugh Duffy. The track was constructed around Brandywell Football Stadium in order to make the most of the space available.
Formerly Home to Derry City Football Club
Brandywell Football Stadium, of course, is the home of Derry City Football Club, meaning that the track tended to attract people that were in the area in order to go to a match there. The track was one of the smallest on the island of Ireland, with the responsibility for running it falling to the Brandywell Greyhound Racing Company. Even when the football was cancelled for Derry City between 1971 and 1985, on account of the civil unrest in Northern Ireland during the troubles, greyhound racing was largely still able to take place.
Relocation to Separate Location
The dispute between Derry FC and the greyhound management team in 1968 wasn’t enough to cause any major issues. There was annoyance from the team behind the greyhound racing that the football club wanted to put the rent up from £12 and six to £20 every week. That aside, life between the two sports was able to co-exist relatively well, up until the point that Derry City and Strabane District Council decided to redevelop the area in conjunction with the Executive Office, building a new stadium at a cost of £7 million.
Track Distance Records
This new stadium included a stand-alone greyhound track, finally moved away from the football ground to its own space. It was finally opened for trials by the Brandywell Greyhound Racing Company on the ninth of February in 2018, with racing predominantly taking place on Monday evenings. Here is a look at the records for the track distances, including when the record was set:
|Distance||Record Time||Date Set|
|300 Yards||16.45 Seconds||14th January 2019|
|300 Yards||16.45 Seconds||28th September 2020|
|500 Yards||27.50 Seconds||21st September 2020|
|525 Yards||28.78 Seconds||6th August 2018|
|745 Yards||42.05 Seconds||20th January 2020|
|920 Yards*||53.96 Seconds||31st May 2007|
*This record was set on the old track.
At the time of writing, Derry Dog Track is one that tends to demonstrate something of a track bias. Here is a look at the stats that have been calculated from 168 full field races taking place during 2021. Alongside the finishing position of the dog racing from each track will be the percentage figure of how many times that happened for each trap:
|Finishing Position||Trap 1||Trap 2||Trap 3||Trap 4||Trap 5||Trap 6|
The track bias is pretty clear, but it is always worth thinking twice before betting on trap 2. Whilst there is close to a one in four chance that the dog running out of there will be a winner, there is also a one in five chance that they will come last.