The race to win the most prestigious greyhound race ever run in Northern Ireland began at Drumbo Park on Saturday night.
The Bettor.com Northern Irish Derby, which is being broadcast live on SkyTV, offers a grand prize of £25,000 and is the largest winnings to be offered in greyhound racing in Northern Ireland.
The competition kicked off at Drumbo Park on Saturday night with six keenly contested heats before a large crowd of enthusiastic punters.
The winners of the heats over the 550 yard circuit were: Cian Abbey 2/1 (30.03 secs); Hats My Boy 5/2 (30.43); Star Head 4/1 (29.90); Leeview Jet 4/6 fav (30.01); Cabra Legend 4/5 fav (30.47) and Quick Lee 4/5 fav (30.15).
The Northern Irish Derby is a 36-dog competition. Additional races have been introduced alongside the Derby to create a finals night with more than just one winner with the total prize pot exceeding £50,000. The quarter finals take place on 11 June, the semi’s on 18 June and the finals on Saturday 25 June.
With a ‘Best Dressed competition’ lined up, amongst other activities, and a competitive line up of dogs, Bettor.com, the social betting exchange, and Drumbo Park promise an unforgettable month of entertainment and racing.
Sky TV’s Gary Newbon believes this could be the start of a new era in greyhound racing and says: “The sky sports team are excited to cover yet another new venue. We have a lot of viewers in Northern Ireland and I think it’s great we’re going to Drumbo Park for what promises several top finals that night. The generous sponsorship of Bettor.com has enabled the NI Derby to take place and everyone should welcome their support.”
Drumbo Park is the newest greyhound stadium in the UK and features a luxurious restaurant with panoramic views of the track. In the short time that it has been open, it has established itself as Northern Ireland’s new night out.
Bettor.com, the new social betting exchange that offers the lowest starting commission of 1.5%, partnered with Drumbo and announced the launch of the Derby at the end of last year.
Jayne Clarke, a Director at Bettor.com, says the company has always had a soft spot for greyhound racing, even when it was known as IbetX, but felt more could be offered to fans and punters.
“We realised there was an opportunity to deliver something new to greyhound racing and its fans so when we launched our new site, Bettor.com, we took sponsorship further and added a couple more to our greyhound sponsorship portfolio. Drumbo offers a first class and fun approach to greyhound racing so we’ve teamed up with them to deliver a unique event that can be enjoyed by everyone,” she said.
Racing Manager, John Connor, says he had been inundated with entries for the competition: “We’ve had an overwhelming response. The dogs entered are from all over the country and including the UK which is nice to see, and we’ve encountered some incredible talent.”
The competition has attracted several top dogs and their trainers including the Graham Holland Trained Leeview Jet and Seven Heads Bay and John Magees Lolos Joe and Hats My Boy.
Top local Trainer Seamus McGarry, who has entered Drumna Windsor into the competition reveals it’s not just the prize money that encouraged him to enter the competition: “Almost everyone I know wants to be in this Derby as it’s the first for Northern Ireland. It’s up there with the top three and it’s a privilege to have our dogs racing in it. The track at Drumbo will be Buzzing throughout the entire event”
Drumbo Park provides a first class greyhound racing experience with luxury seating to accommodate over 300 guests, who all have a panoramic view of the action, and a gourmet menu.
The Bettor.com Northern Irish Derby finals will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 3 on Saturday 25 June.