Shelbourne Park to host racing for another 30 years

Shelbourne Park is the home of Irish greyhound racing. The first stadium to be opened in the country – the Dublin-based racecourse staged its first race in 1927, and continues to host many top-class races today.

Following the closure of the Harold’s Cross stadium in 2017 – after nearly 90 years of operating – there’s now only one greyhound track in the capital. And there’s no doubt that for fans and punters alike, it would be a sorry sight to see it go.

However, the owner of Shelbourne Park wants to develop the site for housing – and has taken plans to the local authorities. Their plan suggests that 750 houses can be built on the land, with the argument that:

“The current zoning as open space/amenity provides no benefit to the public as the lands are used for the racing of greyhounds with no access for members of the public outside of race nights.”

Where the waters get muddied is through Pembroke Estates Management, controlled by Aline Finnegan, who owns the grounds which comprises the racetrack – while the stadium building is owned by a different party – a subsidiary of Greyhound Racing Ireland.

A representative for Greyhound Racing Ireland (RCÉ) has confirmed it is fully committed to long-term future and development of the Shelbourne Park racecourse, as well as its associated greyhound activity – certainly good news for those that were worried about its future, and any subsequent greyhound betting with Betfair.

It is believed that the lease on Shelbourne Park expires in 2052 – meaning the RCÉ can continue to host greyhound racing for another 30 years – but there’s also an option of a lease extension passed this date, securing its future for another 84 years beyond this point. Only last year did the board unanimously agree on making improvements to enhance both the stadium and track itself, and works are expected to commence next year.

In a statement, a representative for the RCÉ said:

“This flagship stadium in the RCÉ portfolio is to greyhound racing what Croke Park is to Gaelic games, and it remains a significant social and cultural asset to the people of Dublin and Ireland alike.”

While the venue is no stranger to controversy – back in 2017, racing at Shelbourne Park was suspended for five months, after a group of protestors bemoaned the closure of Harold’s Cross – it is apparent that the racecourse is an integral part of the community and the history of the sport.

The Premier track plays host to many of the season’s biggest races, not least the Irish Derby. Despite its rich history dating back to its inauguration in 1928, Shelbourne Park has consistently hosted the race since 1970, which like its English counterpart, is the most prolific race in the greyhound calendar.

Not only that, but since it was opened, the Dublin course has been the home of the Easter Cup. The annual competition has seen some big-name winners over the years, including dual-winner Spanish Battleship, and most recent victor Knocknaboul Syd.

The Dublin venue is also home to the Irish Oaks, and of course, its namesake, the Shelbourne Gold Cup – as well as the prestigious Champion Stakes, and as of 2017 (and the closure of Harold’s Cross), the Puppy Derby (also known as the Juvenile Derby).

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