Anyone frustrated by the delays in the return of greyhound racing to Oxford, might take solace in two thoughts. The delays are getting shorter, and the reasons for the setbacks can all be viewed as positives. Infact, promoter Kevin Boothby is convinced that they will all be embraced as fabulous inovations in another six weeks.

The ‘nailed on’ opening date for the dogs – the Oxford Cheetahs speedway team have already staged five fixtures – is Friday July 22. Just over seven weeks away. The principle reason for the new date is the delayed installation of the photo finish equipment. It is manufactured in the USA and is cutting edge. In addition to showing winning times, it will automatically flag up sectional times during the race plus other additional features.

It is scheduled to arrive in a fortnight’s time (June 15) and will take four/five days to install. The other major technology hold up is the tote which isn’t due to be fitted until July 15, that though won’t hold up preparatory qualifying trials or licensing.


There is also some work to be completed on the track kennels and they, as much as anywhere, give an insight into what ‘Oxford 2022’ is all about. Forget ‘patching up the old place’, the new Oxford paddock and kennels will bear no resemblance to the old one.

Then kennel areas will all be enclosed for a start. The building will be completely sealed complete with 100 ml insulation. The old airflow system is redundant, replaced by eight modern powerful heating/cooling air conditioning units – items that simply didn’t exist when the kennels were first built. There are virtually no windows – the biggest source of heat loss/gain but the place will be lit up throughout with powerful led lights. (The widely acclaimed Suffolk Downs kennels have 12, Oxford have 40, all due to be installed within the next fortnight)

Ex -boxers John Conteh and Michael Watson were at Oxford supporting the Frank Bruno Foundation which operates from Oxford Stadium.

One other benefit of the powerful lighting will be better functioning of the security cameras. The whole stadium has been entirely refitted and boasts 5G technology. The paddock will be bristling with modern security cameras throughout the kennel area and outside. They can even be monitored from a phone App.

Ironically, the only aspect of the original paddock are the kennels themselves, all 108 of them. At least the original blocks outlines.

Dave Boothby, who has been overseeing the whole project said: “The original buildings were shite. There were big sections of the roof that weren’t even held together. The best thing about them is that the kennels are a full metre wide, which is way beyond GBGB requirements. In fact, we’ve had the kennel doors from Peterborough and I’m having to put frames on either side to fit the width of the kennels.

“The original roof was made of concrete and it gave a maximum height of around 5 foot, sloping lower towards the back of the kennel. The new roof is higher. I’m 6’6” and I can fit through the door. We’ve made full use of the space.

“There will be a well equipped vets room. There will even be male and female toilets and a shower room in the kennel area for kennel staff. The outside of the building has been cladded in cement board. It looks like wood but without the fire risk.”

So what has it all cost?

Dave said: “It will be somewhere in the region of £250,000. But bear in mind, if you were doing it from spec, it would be closer to £400,000 for a building built to this standard; there is 500 square metres of it.

Cladding on the new kennels is nearly complete

“There have been no corners cut. The quality of build will see the likes of me and Kevin out. Besides when the ******* ******* antis turn up and start moaning about the conditions that the dogs are kept in, we will be able to show them that our dogs will be in more comfort than theirs at home, in the coldest winter or the hottest summer’s day.”


Of all the people desperate to see a greyhound crowd through the gates, none is keener than the promoter himself. So far, it has only been the speedway fans who have had the opportunity to enjoy the new Oxford.

Kevin said: “I’ve not been a speedway man but I’ve loved it. We have had five meetings, three have sold out, and the lowest crowd for the other two, was 1,500. We even had 1,000 here, plus 300 cub scouts, for a reserve fixture. The atmosphere has been incredible. Apparently, some of the speedway riders were really nervous for the first couple of meetings because they had never riden in from of 3,000 people before.

“I’m expecting big crowds for the dogs too. We plan to run every Friday and Saturday and are now taking bookings for July 22 onwards. Our first couple of meetings will be graded, but then we will start on the open racing in the second week. If we get the crowds that I am expecting for the return of the dogs, we may have to limit the numbers. But what we do have is the terraces. It will be like the old days. There is a great atmosphere there from the speedway crowd.”

Like the paddock, the rest of the stadium will benefit from the latest tech. There is a £25K sound system with plans for additional permanent cameras at the end of the straights. As at Suffolk Downs, the kennelstaff will have their own area close to the paddock, equipped with male and female toilets and refreshments room.

The traps are on site. The sand is laid. A new hare rail has been fitted and the hare motor, cable, inverters and additonal equipment is on site.

So when, realistically, will greyhounds get to grace Oxford again?

Kevin said: “I would really hope it would be the last week of June, or absolute latest, first week in July. We still have to be licensed by GBGB, but to be fair, they couldn’t have tried harder at Suffolk Downs. They came out early, gave us a list of things that needed changing and basically said, ‘you have your licence subject to A, B and C’. I am very hopeful that they would do the same again.

“I have spent around £1.8m between Suffolk Downs and Oxford so far but I know it was the right thing to do. It has been a long wait, but trust me, I’m absolutely buzzing”

Where better to celebrate a winner?