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Back On Track: Signs of success everywhere you look - on and off the track; PETER MELDRUM, Pricewise and ratings expert of the Racing Post gives the professional punter's view of the new track.

Byline: PETER MELDRUM

GREYHOUND racing's welcome return to Coventry is a Godsend to supporters of the sport, not only in the West Midlands, but the length and breadth of the country.

The ambitions and professional pride of owner/promoter Avtar Sandhu has ensured that the return of the `long-fellows' to Brandon Stadium will be as a Premier League outfit.

Audacious Sandhu pulled off a major coup by signing on Simon Harris as his racing manager, a move akin to Coventry City signing David Beckham as assistant to Eric Black. Yes he really is that good.

Whatever else Sandhu achieves, the signing of Harris ensured the return of greyhound racing to the city of Coventry its greatest chance of succeeding.

All those connected to the sport, be it as an owner, trainer, bookmaker, or punter now know that when the doors open to the public on April 14 the racing on offer will be of a highly proficient and professional standard.

It is also great news that regular meetings have been scheduled for Wednesdays and Sundays. Both days have, traditionally, been avoided by promoters of greyhound racing and they have left a tremendous void in the market - one that Coventry will exploit to the full.

Popular

Sunday racing in particular should prove tremendously popular and is eagerly awaited by Midlands racegoers. The appointment of some of the country's leading bookmakers ensures a healthy betting ring, the life and soul of any track.

Having enjoyed seeing the new look Brandon track develop I confidently predict that punters will love this big galloping track. Its wide sweeping bends and long straights should go a long way to ensuring that racing is trouble-free, allowing greyhounds to perform to their full potential.

In theory that should ensure a large percentage of winning favourites at the track, which is good news for punters. For once in my life I am glad I am not a bookmaker!

The track can also expect the support of some of the country's top trainers. Among the many looking forward to the re-opening is Charlie Lister, arguably the greatest trainer of all time.

Based in Newark Nottinghamshire, Lister has trained the winners of every major race there is in greyhound racing including four English Derby and two Scottish Derby winners. The Derby-king, currently favourite to win both events again this year, intends being a regular visitor to the track for its planned open races.

Lister said: "I remember the old track at Brandon well and had a fair bit of success there back in the 70s. I have trained dogs for Sandhu in the past and know that he will make a right go of racing at Coventry.

"Speaking to my owners, and to others, everyone agrees that there is a need for a track in Coventry and I am sure it will be a tremendous success."

Coventry have laid the foundations for a successful return of greyhound racing to the city; for myself, and thousands of others, April 14 cannot come quickly enough.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 8, 2004
Words:503
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