Trainers were left shocked and shattered following yesterday’s dramatic news that greyhound racing at Oxford Stadium will cease on December 29.
Staff and trainers were given the shock news by GRA general manager Clive Feltham at 2.30 yesterday afternoon, citing the loss of the Friday BAGS meeting as the main reason for the closure.
Trainer Johnny Mayo, who has seen his family and wife Trish with Stadium blood in their veins, was devastated.
“The decision to close down as an absolute joke – I am flabbergasted”, said Mayo whose children were ever present at first in their push chairs, and are now teenagers working part-time at the track.
“There's no way any building will take place for at least 18 months,” he added Mayo, a former kennel hand of the late Jim Morgan, is working from the recently refurbished ultra modern kennel block, owned by Morgan's daughter which cost a huge amount of money.
There is a 42 double-kennel block with all modern facilities – now this will probably become a boarding kennel.
Mayo added: “I am not interested in joining another track.
“It would be nice to get a couple of decent open racers, I might just do that.”
Veteran trainer Ron BIcknell , 77, who trains at Iver in Bucks said: “Of course it was a shock, it all happened so quickly. “If the chance came to join another track.
“I still feel fit enough to carry on, but it would depend where it is.
“There is still plenty that could happen yet though.”
Gilly Hepden, one of Oxford’s leading handlers who trains at Chalford near Chipping Norton said: “I’m not really surprised.
“I was told about four weeks ago that this was going to happen.
“However, I am not contemplating retirement. I have a good set-up here and wonderful staff and owners. “I will sit down with my husband Alan and discuss what future lies ahead.
“I will have to lay off some staff with no runners, with no money coming in. “You could cut the atmosphere here with knife tonight, It’s a sad day.”