Following the closures of Wimbledon and Walthamstow, the capital city of London is now home to only two greyhound stadiums. Fortunately for London racegoers, the two that do remain include one of the very best tracks in the sport. Owned and operated by the Ladbrokes Coral Group, Romford Greyhound Stadium lies in the heart of Romford Town Centre in Havering, East London.
First opening at the current site in 1931, this top-class venue is home to several of the sport’s most famous events and boasts facilities to match, including two excellent restaurants, a snack bar and a selection of bars. A multiple winner of the British Greyhound Racing Board “Racecourse of the Year” Award, a visit to this 4,300-capacity venue is highly recommended.
What’s On Offer at Romford?
Not only one of the best tracks in the land, but Romford is also one of the busiest. Staging six meetings per week, the regular programme of action looks as follows:
- Monday – 14 races, Doors Open: 1:30pm, First Race: 1:57pm, Last Race: 6:02pm
- Tuesday – 12 races, Doors Open: 10:30am, First Race: 10:53am, Last Race: 1:39pm
- Thursday – 14 races, Doors Open: 1:30pm, First Race: 1:57pm, Last Race: 6:02pm
- Friday – 12 races, Doors Open: 5:30pm, First Race: 6:09pm, Last Race: 9:28pm
- Saturday Morning – 14 races, Doors Open: 9:45am, First Race: 10:12am, Last Race: 1:33pm
- Saturday Evening – 11 races, Doors Open: 5:30pm, First Race: 6:22pm, Last Race: 9:22pm
One of the most prestigious tracks in British racing, highlights are plentiful throughout the season, with the Cesarewitch, the Champion Stakes, the Essex Vase, the Romford Puppy Cup, the Golden Sprint and the Coronation Cup all taking place at the track.
- Circuit Length – 350m
- Run to First Bend – 67m
- Sprint Distance – 225m
- Middle Distances – 400m (standard) – 575m
- Stayers Distance – 715m – 750m
- Marathon Distance – 925m – 1100m
What Can You Expect?
Romford boasts an impressive selection of race day facilities. The Champions Bar, La Roc Bar, the Paddock Restaurant, and Trap 7 Snack Bar are all located within the main two-tier grandstand, with the Pavillion Restaurant sited on the third bend, and the trackside Marquee on the fourth bend.
Entry to the track is free for all morning and afternoon meetings at the track. Friday and Saturday evening fixtures are priced at £7 for adults and £5 for five to 17 year olds, with kids under five going free.
The Party Pack Deal
One of the most popular ticketing options is the Party Pack deal. Available for all Friday and Saturday evening meetings, this offer is priced at £14 and includes entry, a race card, an alcoholic or soft drink, a fast food meal, and admission and a race card for a subsequent fixture. Note that the Party Pack deal must be booked and paid for in advance, and is only available to over 18s.
Racegoers seeking a sit-down meal have the choice of two quality restaurants. The Paddock Restaurant package is priced at £35 for adults and £17.50 for children and includes admission, a race card, a three-course meal, table service for drinks, Tote messenger betting service, and excellent views of the track.
The Pavillion Restaurant offers a carvery deal priced at £30 for adults and £15 for children. Situated on the third bend and featuring an outdoor seated terrace area, this deal includes admission,a racecard, a three-course carvery meal, drinks table service and Tote Messenger Betting service.
In addition to the standard options, the track also provides a range of celebration packages, ideal for special occasions. Beginning at £25 for the Bronze Package and moving up to the £110 Platinum Package, these offers include everything from racecard messages, trophy presentations, photographs with winning connections, and more.
How to Get There
The track address is Coral Romford Greyhound Stadium, London Road, Romford, Essex, RM7 9DU. For those driving to the track, the stadium lies on the A118, around a 15-minute drive from Junction 28 of the M25. Upon arrival at the course, motorists will find ample free parking available just outside the stadium.
Romford Train Station enjoys strong links with the main London lines and lies around a five-minute drive or taxi journey from the track. Alternatively, the number 86 local bus service stops just outside the venue.
How to Get in Touch
- Tel: – 01708 773 444
- Email: – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Twitter: – @RomfordDogs
What Else Do I Need to Know?
Greyhound racing first took place in Romford on the 21st of June 1929 on a patch of land leased by one Archer Legget. Investing £400 to prepare the track – including a hare system operated by an old Ford car engine – Legget came unstuck when unable to afford an increased rent rate in 1930, resulting in the track closing after just one year.
The seed had, however, been sown for dog racing in the area, and on the 20th of September, 1931, the new track opened at its current site in Belle Vue Meadow at a cost of £600. Featuring a hand-operated tote system and an electric hare, the venture proved an immediate hit with locals, regularly drawing in crowds of 1,000 plus punters.
Romford Stadium Ltd
Attracted by this success, four new directors joined the existing team in 1935 to form Romford Stadium Ltd. The new company swiftly pumped £17,000 into the site for the building of the track’s first grandstand and kennel facility – upgrades which served to increase the popularity of the track still further. Having achieved such success, Romford Stadium Ltd then set their minds on establishing another track at Dagenham.
These early years weren’t entirely trouble-free, however. In 1936, an ingenious plan to race cheetahs – yes, cheetahs! – around the track somewhat predictably went awry. Acquiring the cheetahs themselves proved simple enough, with explorer Kenneth Gandar-Dower sourcing 12 from Kenya to take up residence in Romford.
Racing them proved more difficult. Pitting greyhounds against lightning-quick, carnivorous predators proved a logistical nightmare and was quickly scrapped – no doubt to the relief of the poor hounds. However, when lined up against fellow cheetahs, the big cats would show little interest in chasing the hare, resulting in something of an anti-climax when the traps opened. Ultimately, the 11th of December, 1937 represented the track’s first, and last, cheetah racing fixture.
Essex Vase Debut
Moving back into the realms of the sensible, dog-only racing continued to thrive, with the prestigious event of the Essex Vase making its debut in 1939.
The Dagenham Coup
The track and its sister site of Dagenham ticked along nicely over the subsequent decades until a famous swindle known as the Dagenham Coup threatened to derail them both in 1964. Severely hit by the resulting legal costs, Romford survived when bailed out by the off-course bookmakers, for Dagenham however it spelt the end.
Purchased by Coral
The beginning of the track’s modern history began in 1976 when the course was purchased by Coral. Investing heavily in facilities, the bookmaking giant built a brand new glass-fronted grandstand and quickly brought the Tote and hare systems into the modern era.
As is often the case, the improved off-track facilities attracted a higher standard of on-track action – the 1980s seeing the addition of the Coronation Cup, Golden Sprint and Champion Stakes. In 2011, the track entered the record books as the location for the first-ever triple dead heat in greyhound racing.
Moving closer to the modern day, 2018 saw Romford sign a deal with broadcasters SIS, committing to staging its current programme of six meetings per week. Buoyed by this success, Coral pumped further cash into the site. 2019 saw the old stand demolished to create additional parking space, the building of a new ultra-modern grandstand, and the laying of a new track surface.
One of the most impressive and popular stadiums in the country, Romford has also made an impact on the music world. Although initially based in Cardiff, the electronic act Underworld seem to have had an affinity with the track, naming several songs after Romford-based dogs – including the smash hit, Born Slippy.