Swindon Greyhound Stadium

Swindon greyhound traps
Image thanks to Swindon Greyhound Stadium

Also known as the Abbey Stadium, Swindon Stadium is a venue that hosts both greyhound racing and speedway. Located in the Blunsdon area of the Wiltshire town of Swindon, it is owned by Gaming International and regulated by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain. As is occasionally the case with such a venue, speedway was actually the first thing to take place at Swindon, being the reason it opened its doors for the first time on the 23rd of July in 1949. Greyhound racing came along three years later, getting underway on the first of November in 1952.

At the time of writing, Swindon Stadium plays host to greyhound racing in the mornings of Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, whilst afternoon racing takes place on Thursdays. If you’re hoping to get along and watch some greyhound action in the evening then the day to head there is Sunday. It means that Tuesdays and Saturdays are the only days on which there is no racing taking place that the public can get in to watch.

The Track & Facilities

Swindon greyhounds
Image thanks to Swindon Greyhound Stadium

There is ample free parking available for racegoers at Swindon Stadium, so if you’re driving or getting a coach there then you’ll be grand. You do need to bear in mind that leaving your vehicle there overnight isn’t allowed, so if you’re planning on having a drink then don’t drive. With as many as 14 races taking place per meeting, there will be plenty of action for you to watch. Though there are no private boxes for hire, large parties can be catered to easily and there are snack bars and drinks bars throughout the venue.

If you want to add a bit more luxury to your experience then you can book a table in the on-site restaurant. Admission there includes a three-course meal, the race card and your entry for the evening, so it is well worth considering. The service in the Abbey Restaurant is full-on, meaning that you’ll get your food and drinks served to you and even have your bets taken at the table, so pre-booking is essential. Though not one of the country’s biggest greyhound venues, it is a personable and pleasant one to spend time at.

At the time of writing, races over the following distances take place at Swindon Stadium:

  • 285 Metres
  • 460 Metres
  • 480 Metres
  • 509 Metres
  • 685 Metres
  • 727 Metres
  • 480 Metre Hurdles

Major Races & Events

Swindon grandstand
Image thanks to Swindon Greyhound Stadium

Swindon Stadium is a well-respected one in the world of greyhound racing, so it’s no wonder that is has played host to some big races over the years. The Arc, for example, was inaugurated at Walthamstow Stadium in 1987 but moved to Swindon when it closed in 2008.

The race stopped in 2017 and hasn’t returned yet. The Oaks, meanwhile, was run at White City until 1958, switched to Harringay and then Wimbledon, Belle Vue and Towcester before landing at Swindon in 2018. In 2021, it was moved to Perry Barr, where it has been since.

British Bred Produce Stakes

Run over 480 metres, the British Bred Produce Stakes paid £13,000 to the winner in 2021. Inaugurated in 1946 at Bristol’s Eastville Stadium as the Western Two-Year-Old Stakes, it was renamed as the Western Two-Year-Old Produce Stakes in order to ensure people realised that it was a produce events for puppies aged two. When Bristol closed in 1997, the race moved to Swindon and it has been held here ever since. Nowadays, the event is open to British-bred runners, hence the change in title, but it is still for puppies.

In the News

Swindon Stadium has been in the news repeatedly of late, largely thanks to delays that have occurred on the building work that should have been taking place there. Major renovations were planned, but work stalled and stopped speedway from being able to take there for several years. The good news for speedway fans is that the work does look like it is going to be completed sooner rather than later, especially if news reports into the matter are to be believed. Taylor Wimpey, the building company responsible for it, submitted new plans to the council for approval.

About Swindon Stadium

Swindon Greyhound Stadium at night
Image thanks to Swindon Greyhound Stadium

In some ways, there is an irony to the fact that greyhound racing was able to carry on at Swindon Stadium whilst speedway racing stopped for a few years. That is because the venue originally opened as a speedway venue, with its first meeting of the sport taking place in front of the public on the 23rd of July in 1949. The Swindon Robins speedway team became the main focus of events at stadium, but it wasn’t long before a demand for greyhound racing in the area meant that the sport began there with a vengeance.

Swindon as an area had already had a couple of dalliances with greyhound racing. The village of Wroughton had boasted a track for a while, as had Edinburgh Street in the town centre, but both tracks no longer existed by the middle of the 1930s. The new stadium was built in a rural area to the south of Lady Lane, given a name that paid homage to the Blunsdon Abbey estate that had witnessed its main house burn down in 1904. The Victorian estate was a namesake, but the stadium was modern in concept at the time.

The Early Years

When the track first opened, it did so as an independent venue that hosted so called ‘flapper’ racing. 2,000 people turned up to watch the first meeting of greyhound racing, which took place on the first of November in 1952. The first race was run over 324 yards and a dog with odds of 6/1 named Don’t Care won it in 19.02 seconds. After years of being run in such a manner, the stadium was bought by the Bristol Greyhound Racing Association, which already owned by Oxford and Eastville Stadiums.

The move to the BGRA meant that an application was made for it to become part of the National Greyhound Racing Club, which was accepted in April of 1968. That was also the year that the Silver Plume arrived at the venue, becoming the stadium’s principal event. Common Platt opened another independent track nearby during the 1960s, but it didn’t do enough to entice business away from Swindon, which continued to thrive. In 1983, Abbey Stadium, as it was known at the time, was bought by ADT (British Car Auctions).

A Move into he Modern Era

The purchase of the track by ADT was so that they could use its large car park as a base for their sales operation, but it was a good time for the track regardless. Both the Grand National of the West, the Pride of the West and the Jubilee Stakes moved there during the company’s ownership. Even so, in 1997 a decision was taken to sell to the BS Group, who had sold Eastville Stadium but wanted to remain in greyhounds. The entire operation, which included bookmakers, trainers and a BAGS contract, was transferred to Swindon Stadium.

The BS Group renamed itself to Stadia UK, then it became International Gaming, all whilst doing what it could to keep the greyhound racing going at the venue. When Walthamstow Stadium closed in 2008, the Arc moved to Swindon. Ten years later and a contract with Arena Racing Company was signed to see racing take place at the stadium every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. All the while, plans to completely overhaul the venue were put in place, including plans to build 100 houses and a care home on the site.

In 2016, work on the housing began but stadium plans were stopped. In 2019, plans to reposition the stadium and track were scrapped, whilst the circumference was reduced. At the time of writing, the stadium and its track remain in the same position, with the idea being that prefabricated buildings would be installed in place of the original buildings. Though the greyhound racing was largely able to continue, speedway racing was unable to take place and the team failed to enter the British leagues in 2021 because of the uncertainty.

Track Records

At the time of writing, these are the track records over distances that have taken place at Swindon over the years. Obviously both the distances that are run on the track and the actual records themselves can change at any time, but this is the information that is correct at the time of publishing this piece:

Distance Record Time Date Set
262 Metres 15.40 Seconds 27th March 2022
285 Metres 15.90 Seconds September 2009
460 Metres 27.33 Seconds February 2004
476 Metres 27.86 Seconds 31st August 2019
480 Metres 28.18 Seconds July 2013
509 Metres 29.43 Seconds September 2002
682 Metres 41.51 Seconds 7th November 2021
685 Metres 40.94 Seconds February 2004
737 Metres 44.86 Seconds September 2008
480 Metre Hurdles 28.93 Seconds September 2002