Regular weekly open racing is due to return to Sheffield from February onwards, provided the calibre of entry demands it.
Racing manager Sam Tweed said: “We have always run them here in my eleven years at the track but we stopped because of the drop in quality. We would have our own runners from A1 and then just get a couple of A4 dogs from elsewhere. I have scheduled four opens for every Tuesday night for three months starting in February. There will be a sprint, a standard (500m) and a stayers, plus one other, perhaps a puppy event or a bitches race. If the quality is there we will duplicate, if it isn’t, we won’t run them at all.
“We certainly don’t need the opens. The kennel strength is good and the plus side has been some cracking A1s. Last week we had a graded race won by open racer Coolavanny Gravy in a calculated 28.69. The other reason for bringing back the opens is to give trainers a chance to prepare for the Three Steps To Victory in March.
The track are also making a concerted effort to bring back graded hurdle racing after months in the doldrums.
Tweed said: “We currently have three dogs available plus another three or four due to trial this week. Ideally we would like each of our trainers to supply one hurdler. Hurdle trials are available at every session when we have 500 flat trials and prize money is just off A1, with £150 to the winner and £50 to the others.”
The track actually have a budding hurdle star going through the ranks. Russ Warren’s Swift Dam with two wins and 10 seconds in his 15 races to date – plus an “awkward” has already clocked 29.60 over the hurdle course.
Tweed said: “It is early days but it was only just outside the track record. We may consider hurdle opens on the SKY meetings though we have had bad experiences before because you are reliant on a small number of kennels.”