DESPITE tough times for racecourse owners a £1.25 million investment could see Towcester become the premier greyhound racing track in the country.
This week Lord Alexander Hesketh spoke to the Advertiser after a planning application was submitted to South Northants Council for a 420metre oval, flood lit dog track in front of The Empress Stand.
Lord Hesketh said with only 17 horse racing meets each year, the viability of the racecourse is increasingly threatened by competition from the internet and betting on other sports like football.
But with the existing infrastructure for horse racing, including stands, stables and cabling for high definition television coverage and satellite links ups, the greyhound track could be constructed for much less than one built from scratch.
Lord Hesketh said: “In terms of our income it has halved to half a million and it may well halve again over the next few years. This has been quite apparent for about the last five years and something had to be done to make sure the racecourse is profitable.”
Lord Hesketh said the benefits of the dog track would spill into the surrounding area through job creation. He said with weekly dog meets it would become possible to employ in-house caterers, and the track would also attract kennel owners to the area who would need to employ their own staff.
The new track will utilise the latest technology in floodlighting and Lord Hesketh gave assurances there would be no affect on the surrounding area. The track will also be constructed with a slight banking for the welfare of dogs and the proposal have been given the thumbs up by dog owners’ groups
The planning application states the proposals will create 73 part time and eight full time jobs in addition to the existing 131 temporary and 10 full time roles.
Since 1997 the racecourse has received more than £7.5 million investment and seen the construction of The Grace Stand, stable block, a veterinary unit, security room, saddling boxes, pre-parade ring and the Empress Stand.