One of Britain’s most highly regarded dog tracks is to be found just to the south of the famous university city of Oxford. Whilst the city’s vast student population study their books, those attending the Cowley venue can be found poring over the latest greyhound form.
Amongst the most impressive tracks in the UK, this multi-purpose facility is also home to a successful speedway outfit and boasts all the amenities required for a cracking night out, including a selection of bars and a highly rated restaurant.
What’s On Offer at Oxford?
Following a period of closure, the track relaunches in August 2022, with meetings set to take place every Friday and Saturday evening. Traditionally hosting a mix of graded events and open race contests, fans are eagerly anticipating the return of prestigious races such as the Pall Mall Stakes, Cesarewitch, Trafalgar Cup, Oxfordshire Stakes and Oxfordshire Gold Cup.
In addition to the greyhound action, the stadium has also acted as the home of the Oxford Cheetahs since 1932. Previously known as the Oxford Rebels and the Oxford Silver Machine, the team ceased to operate in 2008, but in common with the greyhound side of the business emerged from the wilderness in 2022.
Usually taking place on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening, speedway tickets are priced at £18 for adults, £6 for 12-15-year-olds, and just £1 for those under the age of 12.
- Circuit Length – 395m
- Run to First Bend – 100m (4 bends) – 90m (6 bends)
- Sprint Distance – 250m
- Middle Distances – 450m (standard)
- Stayers Distance – 595m – 645m
- Marathon Distance – 845m – 1040m
What Can You Expect?
Whether you are attending a greyhound or speedway meeting, visitors to the track can expect a top-class racing experience. Standard admission grants access to Ox’s Bar, Champs Bar, the snack bar, and excellent trackside viewing,
Fab 5 Bundle
The popular Fab 5 bundle is also set to be reintroduced for the relaunch. Available to all patrons aged 18 and over, this deal includes entry, race card, burger and chips, a pint of lager, glass of wine or a soft drink, and a £2 tote bet.
Savana Bar & Restaurant
Visitors seeking a slightly more luxurious experience may wish to book a table in the Savana Bar and Restaurant. This ticketing option includes reserved parking and a private entrance, a delicious two-course meal, and a reserved table for the evening. Offering panoramic views of the action, and bar and betting table service, this is a popular choice for parties celebrating a special occasion, or simply those looking to experience greyhound racing in style.
Or how about one of the track’s three executive suites? Enjoying a prime viewing position towards the end of the home straight, all suites come complete with a dedicated team of bar and betting staff to cater to your every need.
Pricing for all of the above entry options can vary according to the meeting, with the best advice being to consult the track’s official website, for the details surrounding upcoming events. A truly multipurpose venue, in addition to the live sporting action, the site also boasts an excellent sports centre featuring squash, snooker, gymnasium, and a go-karting track, as well.
How to Get There
The track address is Oxford Stadium, Sandy Lane, Oxford OX4 6LJ. Those driving to the track should navigate to the Oxford Ring Road via the A34, A40 or A420. From the A4212 section of the ring road, motorists should then turn onto the B480 travelling away from the city centre. The stadium then lies just off the A4212 on Sandy Lane. Upon arrival at the track racegoers will find ample parking available in the stadium’s 250-capacity car park.
Oxford Train Station enjoys strong links with most areas of the country and is around a 15-minute taxi journey from the track. Alternatively, the City5 and Stagecoach number 1 local bus services both stop close by.
How to Get in Touch
- Tel: – 01865 778 222 ext 201
- Email: – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Twitter: – @Oxford_Stadium
What Else Do I Need to Know?
Oxford Stadium was built on the site of the local “flapping” (unlicensed greyhound racing) track, with works completed in 1938 and the first meeting taking place on the 31st of March 1939. Forced into closure on several occasions during WWII, the track experienced real adversity in 1944 when a fire ripped through the grandstand – allegedly being caused by a newspaper blowing into a heater.
Leslie Vernon Calcutt
Possibly the most pivotal figure in the history of the stadium was one Leslie Vernon Calcutt. Obtaining a 99-year lease from landowner Mr Johnson to facilitate the building of the stadium, Mr Calcutt was then influential in increasing the profile of greyhound racing in the area. Calcutt’s purchase of Irish Grand National winner, The Gunner, who went on to win 11 consecutive races at Oxford, proved instrumental in boosting early attendances.
Calcutt was, however, to be taken well before his time when passing away at the age of 49 in 1952. Following his death, the track was taken over by Bristol Stadium Ltd.
Upgrades & Additional Meetings
1967 saw Oxford selected as one of the first four tracks to stage a Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service (BAGS) meeting. That development preceded several further upgrades, including the building of the 350-seater restaurant.
Upgrades & Ownership
Despite that success, in 1975 the track owners agreed to sell the site to Oxford City Council for £235,000, with the land set to be repurposed as a housing estate. However, following a petition signed by 27,000 greyhound fans, local MP Michael Heseltine gave the track time to find an alternative buyer.
Racing was stalled on the 31st December 1975, but by March of 1976 that new buyer had been found, with Northern Sports shelling out £250,000 to keep the track out of the hands of the housing developers.
Oxford then began to thrive throughout the 1980s, with the addition of the new £1.5 million three-tier grandstand and sports centre. This period also saw the sports’ leading trainer, Geoff De Mulder, relocate to Oxford, whilst the quality of the racing received a boost with the 1987 addition of the Pall Mall Stakes which had previously been held at Harringay.
It seems trouble has never been too far away at this venue though, and in 1995 the parent company of Northern Sports – Hawkins of Harrow – went bust, leaving Oxford in need of a new owner once more.
A man by the name of Donald Joyce, who had played a key role in the petition to keep the track open, stepped in to purchase the site in 1996, before selling on at a significant profit to the Greyhound Racing Association in 1999. Once again, things were looking up with the GRA funding a multi-million extension in 2000.
Problems & Solutions
That wasn’t the last word in the ownership drama though. In 2005, GRA’s parent company Wembley Plc was broken up, leading to the track operations being taken on by Risk Capital Partners and Gallard Homes. Officially closing for business in front of a capacity crowd on the 29th of December, 2012, it seemed that the land may become a housing estate after all.
Fortunately for greyhound fans, the council continue to favour using the land as a leisure facility, and in late 2021, it was announced that the site would reopen as a greyhound and speedway stadium in 2022. And, so the next chapter in the history of this up and down track begins…