Towcester primary school welcome special four-legged visitors on the eve of the English Greyhound Derby

Pupils at Nicholas Hawksmoor Primary School in Towcester were treated to a special visit ahead of this year’s English Greyhound Derby Final by two locally trained racing greyhounds.

The school welcomed Pablo, aka Pablo The Pup, and Marco, Blackstone Marco, plus professional trainer Heather Dimmock and Shaun Reynolds of Towcester Racecourse who hosted an assembly for 450 pupils aged 5-11.

Children were given a basic introduction to the greyhound and its requirements and learnt about the three key stages of every racing greyhound’s life – in rearing, in training and in retirement.

They were also educated about the sport’s ground-breaking Injury Recovery Scheme and Greyhound Retirement Scheme which have been established so the sport can deliver a healthy, happy, life to all greyhounds on and off the track.

Pupils also watched a video which demonstrated how racing greyhounds live at home while in training and took part in a quiz to test their new knowledge of the sport. The session ended with an opportunity to get up close and personal to Pablo and Marco and take part in an open Q&A session.

Kevin Boothby, Managing Director of Towcester Racecourse, said the visit formed part of the venue’s commitment to introducing new audiences to the sport and educating them about how racing operates under new, modern, regulation.

“It was wonderful for our team to meet so many enthusiastic pupils at Nicholas Hawksmoor Primary School who we thank for being so welcoming,” said Kevin. “We were pleasantly surprised by the number of pupils who had already experienced greyhound racing and hopefully our session will inspire them to come racing again soon.

“Greyhound racing has a major responsibility to be proactive and educate as many people possible about present day regulation. Children and young adults are the future of our sport and there is no better way of establishing your first touchpoint with racing than the English Greyhound Derby.

“We’d again like to thanks Nicholas Hawksmoor and the school’s staff and pupils for their time and we hope to see them trackside at the prestigious English Greyhound Derby final.”

The assembly took place with only a fortnight until Towcester Racecourse hosts the world-famous English Greyhound Derby Final on Saturday, July 1, where the winner will land the £175,000 first prize.

The race will be centrepiece of a major, family friendly, day out featuring live music, mirror men, stilt walkers and face painting – with racing scheduled to begin shortly after 6pm.

A Nicholas Hawksmoor spokesperson added: “We were excited to welcome the greyhounds into school and to explore from those that work with greyhounds, what’s involved in their care and training, especially since we have a local racecourse on our doorstep.

“We were told that the greyhounds are thoroughly pampered, getting groomed, walked and raced everyday and that they also eat a very healthy diet of freshly made meals of beef and chicken with broccoli and other vegetables too. Pupils were amazed that they can run up to 45 miles per hour when racing!

“We understand that greyhound racing is considered to be a controversial subject for some as with other local sports such as motor racing and horse racing, and we feel it’s important to explore both sides of the issues presented which have relevance for our local community. Therefore some of our pupils asked further challenging questions about the welfare across a greyhound’s lifetime. It was a valuable experience to provoke critical thinking back in class with our pupils and they certainly really enjoyed meeting the greyhounds, Marco and Pablo who seemed very content!”

Tickets for the 2023 English Greyhound Derby Final on Saturday, July 1, are on sale now and available to purchase online via the Towcester Racecourse website or on the door.

All children aged 14 and under can attend for free.