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Big night for greyhounds

07:37 20 May 2014

Greyhounds are chasing the biggest prize in the sport (pic: Coral)

Greyhounds are chasing the biggest prize in the sport (pic: Coral)

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Derby hopefuls in action on ‘1928’ special

The quarter-finals of the William Hill Greyhound Derby share the stage with a ‘Night Of Passion’ at Wimbledon tonight, with the famous old stadium’s 86-year anniversary celebrated at a meeting which is hoped can help save greyhound racing’s last remaining greyhound track in London from demolition - and pave the way for a brand new multi-million pound redevelopment of the SW17 site.

The special free-to-enter night of top-class greyhound racing will have a 1928 theme - the year greyhound racing first began at Wimbledon - and there is even a race worth £1,928 to the winner.

Enthusiasts will also be looking to see which greyhounds are looking good for the record-breaking £200,000 first prize offered to this year’s Greyhound Derby winner. The final is on Saturday, May 31.

The ‘1928 Night Of Passion’ follows February’s ‘Show Of Passion’ at City Hall, London, in which hundreds of greyhound racing fans from Britain and Ireland - and a number of the greyhounds themselves - handed a letter to Mayor Boris Johnson asking for his continued support for greyhound racing in London.

The ‘We Want Wimbledon’ campaign has seen local residents in Merton join forces with greyhound racing enthusiasts in support of Irish businessman Paschal Taggart’s plans to buy the site and make the stadium the centrepiece of a new multi-leisure and housing redevelopment.

Greyhound owner and former barrister Diane McLean is heading the ‘We Want Wimbledon’ campaign in support of Taggart’s plans to build a world-class new facility. Taggart himself is credited with turning round the Irish greyhound racing during his tenure as Irish Greyhound Board chairman.

McLean said: “It will be a night of celebration of 86 years not out for Wimbledon Stadium. The action will be staged live on Sky Sports and SIS. Our ‘Show Of Passion’ at City Hall was a tremendous success, we intend to build on that.

“The ‘1928 Night Of Passion’ is intended to be fun, but also a serious reminder that greyhound racing is alive and kicking.

“The local residents are become increasingly concerned about the future ahead of the Inspector Robert Yuille’s planning inquiry result, which is expected at the end of June.

“They are determined that greyhound racing should remain, which is obviously helpful and I hope they will want to come along and join in a wonderful night.”

A souvenir racecard including pictures of canine greats Mick The Miller and Westmead Hawk at Wimbledon has been produced on a night when the best greyhounds from Britain and Ireland - a record 222 dogs started out on the road for glory - compete in the latest round of the six-round event.

Charlie Lister OBE is looking to land an historic eighth Derby success with his greyhound, Jordans Brianna.

The current favourite is the Irish greyhound Mind The Net, trained by Pat Buckley, while Holdem Spy is hoping to add the English Derby crown to the Scottish Derby he won in Glasgow last month in what is the second leg of greyhound racing’s ‘impossible dream’ of the Triple Crown.

The third leg is the Irish Derby at Shelbourne Park, Dublin, in September.

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