Newcastle have unveiled the 2018 Laurels as a two-run competition sponsored by the Conlon Family and Pinpoint Recruitment. The 18 runner event will be staged over the 480m course on Thursdays December 6 and 13th and worth £5,000 to the winner. It will be covered live on RPGTV.

The main event will be supported by the £1,000 one-off Mark Lennox Memorial plus a full supporting open race card on final night.

Newcastle boss Ian Walton said: “Ideally we wanted to stage it as a ‘Cat 1’ competition and given the way the end of year has worked out with the fixture congestion, that wasn’t possible. I was just delighted that the GBGB managed to find us a slot for the two Thursdays and hopefully we can do something bigger next year.

“We are hoping to build on the success of the All England Cup which was a big success. Things didn’t start as well as I would have hoped with a lot of the outside dogs badly seeded. That was particularly true of some of the Scottish dogs who are used to running handicaps, and it was hard to gauge how they would take to the track. By the final though, they had worked it out and I thought there was minimal trouble in the finals or supporting races.

“I hope we get a few more dogs from the south with there just being the two runs. I think the big advantage we have had over the last couple of years has been the running surface. There was a time when our winter going would often be .70 or .80 slow which meant a lot of dogs couldn’t stay it. But, touch wood, we are seldom more than ten spots either side of normal these days.”

Walton will not be returning to the track himself following his one-off match race event against Curt Robinson, a kennelhand with Craig Dawson, at the conclusion of the main meeting. The GM prevailed when his opponent stopped chasing, despite running off 226m in a 480m event.

Walton said: “There is some talk about Jimmy Fenwick preparing to take me on, off scratch. But have you seen him lately? I reckon he will need at least a year to get race fit.”