Of the 20 officially licenced greyhound tracks found on the British mainland, one of the newest lies in the Murston region of Kent. Initially opened as a purpose-built football ground going by the name of Sittingbourne Stadium, Central Park has quickly grown to become one of the more prominent tracks in the south. New York it ain’t but even so, this is a very decent greyhound-racing venue and well worth a visit for fans of the sport, or anyone simply wanting a fun day or night out.
Indeed, Central Park is the sport’s number one destination for connections of the best jumping dogs in the country – being home to the Grand National, Champion Hurdle and the Springbok. Those visiting the track will find that the off-track facilities more than match the quality of the racing action, with the site boasting a 2000-capacity all-seater grandstand, trackside restaurant, fast food facilities and a selection of bars.
What’s On Offer at Central Park?
Central Park plays host to a regular programme of five fixtures per week, taking place on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and Friday and Sunday evenings. The midweek meetings all consist of 12 races. Gates open at 10am with the first race commencing at 10:46am, and the last getting underway at 1:33pm.
Gates open at 5:30pm ahead of evening fixtures. Friday’s 11-race card kicks off at 6:17pm, running through to 9:18pm, and Sunday’s 12-race fixture begins at 6:09pm, with the hare being set in motion for the last contest at 9:28pm. The major event of the season comes in May, with the annual running of the prestigious Greyhound Grand National.
- Circuit Length – 443m
- Sprint Distance – 265m
- Middle Distances – 450m – 480m (standard) – 500m
- Stayers Distance – 642m – 708m
- Marathon Distance – 916m
What Can You Expect?
The midweek morning meetings are predominantly held for the benefit of the betting industry and tend to attract a relatively small crowd. Entry is free to all on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, with racecards priced at £2.50. This is a good way to experience live greyhound racing at minimal expense and is highly recommended for those who can make such fixtures.
Standard admission to the far busier Friday and Sunday evening meetings is priced at £10 for adults and £2 for 5 to 17-year-olds, with all under 5s going free. Adult entry includes a free racecard and this competitive pricing makes for a reasonably priced family day out.
One of the most popular ticketing options at the track is the excellent value “Winning Deal”. Available at all evening meetings, this package includes admission, racecard, basket meal from the fast-food outlet and a bottle of beer or a glass of wine. Note that “Winning Deal” packages must be booked and paid for in advance.
Those seeking a sit-down meal experience may wish to book a table in the stadium’s swish glass-fronted trackside restaurant. Friday’s 3-course meal deal is priced at £30 for adults, £20 for 10 to 17-year-olds and £10 for 5 to 9-year-olds, with the 2-course Sunday lunch menu available at £25 for adults, £15 for 10-17-year-olds, and £10 for 5-9-year-olds. Both deals combine a delicious and locally sourced menu with outstanding views of the racing action.
Private Suite Facilities
At the top end of the pricing ladder comes the track’s selection of private suite facilities. Ideal for those celebrating a special occasion, a range of packages are available, with the best advice being to contact the track in advance to discuss your requirements.
How to Get There
The stadium address is Central Park Stadium, Church Road, Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10 3SB. The track lies in the midst of Central Park on the outskirts of the town of Sittingbourne to the south-east of London. Major approach roads include the M2 and the M20, both of which link to the A249 towards Kemsley. From Kemsley follow Swale Way on to Church Road and then on to the track. Upon arrival at the stadium, motorists will find ample parking available just outside the venue.
The closest train station to the track is that within the town of Sittingbourne. Enjoying strong links with London, the station itself is relatively easy to reach but does lie around a 30-minute walk from the track. With local bus services being a little thin on the ground, a taxi may be your best option.
How to Get in Touch
- Tel: – 01795 475547
- Email: – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Twitter: – @centralparkdogs
What Else Do I Need to Know?
This is one of the sport’s newer facilitiesand the stadium first opened in 1990 as the purpose-built new home of Sittingbourne FC. Previously based at the Bull Ground, the £4.5 million sale of that site saw the club move to this brand-new facility on the outskirts of the town.
The new era for the club quickly ran into difficulties as it soon became clear they had vastly overstretched themselves financially in making the move. Sittingbourne FC were ultimately forced to sell the site to the local council, before leasing it back at a more affordable rate.
Soon after, the council sold the stadium to a greyhound racing company. The football club initially continued to play their games here but, due to repeated scheduling clashes with the greyhounds, later moved to an area of the site originally intended as a training facility.
First Greyhound Meeting
Forced to delay a planned 1994 opening due to financial issues and essential restructuring works, the first greyhound meeting eventually took place on the 3rd of October 1995. Attracting a crowd of 2,125, spectators were impressed with the new facilities which included a glass-fronted restaurant, three bars and executive suites.
Unfortunately, financial problems weren’t long in rearing their ugly head once more. Scarcely a year after launch, the stadium was forced to close in 1996. With new suitors not immediately making themselves known, the future of the site seemed to be in serious doubt.
Roger Cearns – grandson of WJ Cearns who opened Wimbledon Stadium back in 1928 – was the man to come to the rescue, and quickly set about restoring the track’s fortunes. Staging the high-profile trainer’s championship event in 1998, 2000 and 2003, the stadium introduced a prestigious race of its own in the shape of the Kent Derby which made its debut in the year 2000.
2006: Betfair Sunday Fixtures
2006 then saw the track receive a big boost in profile when launching a series of 10 Sunday fixtures in partnership with Betfair, all of which were screened live on Eurosport. With increasing profile came increasing quality on the track. Acquiring the Grand National in 2012, Springbok in 2017 and Champion Hurdle in 2019, the track now boasts all three of the jumps racing Triple-Crown events.
Kent Kings Speedway
A new sport entered the fray in 2013 with the launch of the Kent Kings Speedway team. Popular with local motorsport fans, the National League outfit remained in residence until the end of the 2021 season when upping sticks to move to Iwade on the other side of the town.
Arena Racing Company
Now once again a stadium dedicated solely to greyhound racing, the track signed a 2018 deal with SIS agreeing to stage meetings on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. That contract going some way to providing a welcome level of security to the future of the track. And, that future now appears brighter than ever thanks to the 2021 sale of the site to the powerful Arena Racing Company.