GREYHOUND racing is poised to return to Northamptonshire for the first time since the 1960s.
A purpose-built oval track is scheduled to be built inside Towcester racecourse this year.
Following the closures of both Coventry and Milton Keynes in recent years local fans have had to travel as far a field as Hall Green (south Birmingham) or Henlow (Bedfordshire) to see the dogs in action.
Independent “flapping” tracks at South Bridge in Northampton and at Earls Barton closed almost half a century ago.
But the sport is undergoing a mini-revival.
Initially Towcester put in an application to hold greyhound races in a straight line on a similar system to that once employed at the Cheltenham Festival.
With only 17 horse race meetings a year Towcester want to increases income on a regular basis by constructing a 420-metre oval circuit in front of the existing Empress stand.
The cost is not expected to exceed £1.25 million.
Planning permission has been granted by South Northants District Council for a state-of-the-art floodlit track which has been given the go-ahead by land owner Lord Hesketh and Towcester Racecourse general manager Kevin Ackerman.
Martin White, chairman of greyhound racing’s owners, trainers and breeders group, described the new venture as “an exciting development in which no expense will be spared in terms of the racing surface and the welfare of the greyhounds”.
He added: “Everything will be done to the highest specification as too will all the facilities.”
Senior stipendary steward Paul Illingworth chipped in with further good news when confirming that a consortium headed by Harry Findlay (he owned half of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman) are hoping to re-open the Coventry circuit at Brandon later this year.