Henlow Stadium Guide

Just above Luton and a smidgen below Cambridge is the civil parish of Stondon. It’s not far from Hitchin in the county of Bedfordshire and it is the home of Henlow Stadium. Boasting a restaurant, a bistro and a few bars, it’s got a car park that can handle 400 cars and a capacity inside that means that it can welcome 1000 people through its doors.

The restaurant can seat just shy of two-hundred people and overlooks the track, so that’s somewhere you may fancy going for a slightly more upmarket experience if you’re in that kind of mood. Whatever you decide to do, by heading to Henlow Stadium you’re putting yourself in pole position to enjoy a night of excitement and entertainment that’s almost unrivalled.

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Race Days & Times

You’ll be able to watch greyhounds race at Henlow three nights a week, apart from in December when that gets bumped up to four nights in two of the weeks when it opens on a Friday too. Other than in the Christmas month, when it’s open on Boxing Day, as well as those extra Fridays, you’ll find that you can watch dog racing on Thursday nights, Saturday nights and Sunday evenings.

The doors open at 6.30pm on a Thursday night and the first race is at 7.30pm. The same is true of Saturday evenings and on both occasions the racing tends to finish at around 10.15pm. On a Sunday everything shifts a little earlier to let you get home before school the next day, so the doors open at 5.30pm and the first race is an hour later. They should wrap up at around 9.15pm.

Visiting

  • Ticket Prices: The good news is that it’s free to get in on a Thursday and a Sunday - the not so good news is that you’ll have to pay £2.50 for your Race Card. On Saturdays, it’s £5 to get in but that includes your Race Card, so it’s swings and roundabouts. FYI it’s £7 on Boxing Day, but that also includes the Race Card.
  • Getting There: If you’re driving then Henlow Stadium can be found not far from the A1(M) or the A1 proper. It’s off Bedford Road, which is what the A602 becomes the further you drive along it. Arlesey Train Station is probably the closest, yet it’s still an hour away on foot. Bus might be a better option with numbers 89, 3X, 71 72, 188, 190, W10 and W12 all calling in close proximity.
  • Parking There’s room for 400 cars at the stadium itself, so if you can’t find a parking space you probably aren’t looking hard enough.

History

The first greyhound race around an oval track was held at Belle Vue Stadium in Manchester on the 24th of July, 1926. In the months that followed, greyhound tracks sprang up all over the place, perhaps in response to the fact that more than 11,000 people attended Belle Vue in the first three months after its opening. As you may well have guessed from this seemingly inane rambling, Henlow was one of the first such stadiums to appear during that ‘boom’ period.

The track, which had previously been just a straight track after it opened in 1923, saw its first race on the new style course take place on the 1st of August in 1927. Despite opening little more than a year after Belle Vue, it remained an independent venue for close to fifty years. Independent, if you’re wondering, is another way of saying unlicensed. That may in some way be explained by the fact that for some time the drag lure was driven around the course by a lorry wheel.

In the wake of the Second World War, the track was able to welcome a thousand people and principal event that took place on the 470 yard course was the Henlow Derby. The track boasted seven on-site bookmakers, as well as a totaliser and even the facilities for a photo finish. Not much changed until 1976 when the track gained the chance to race under the rules of the National Greyhound Racing Club. The track size was reduced to 412 yards, giving the third and fourth corners a somewhat strange shape as a result.

Toward the end of the 1950s, the track was bought by a family called Smith and it remained in their control until 1994. At that point, it was bought by a man named Jock McNaughton who had a good racing pedigree; he had been a trainer at Rye House Stadium and Henlow itself. Over the following few years the track changed hands a number of times before being bought by Bob Morton and Kevin Boothby. They saved it from being redeveloped but, in 2012, Morton left the area and Boothby took sole control of the track.

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