Former employee takes over Drumbo Park as greyhound racing set to return

Greyhound racing is to resume at Drumbo Park near Lisburn
Greyhound racing is to resume at Drumbo Park near Lisburn

DRUMBO Park near Lisburn is set to resume greyhound racing after the business was acquired from administration by a former employee.

John Connor was among 44 staff who lost his job when track closed its gates in January after 11 years, leaving Brandywell in Derry as the last remaining bastion for the north's doggie men.

Drumbo's then directors cited a number of factors which meant the venue was no longer sustainable, including a shortage of greyhounds to provide a full race card, the impact of online gaming on live racing, a lack of government funding and the north’s restrictive licensing laws, which prevent the sale of alcohol at the track on Sundays.

But John's passion for racing prompted him to work tirelessly to get the business back on track, and the venue has been rebranded as a conference and events venue, as well as a racetrack, creating more than 30 jobs.

He and commercial director Nick Rose have formed a company called Run with Passion Ltd and struck a deal with the liquidators to buy all the assets.

John said: “Our location alone gives us a competitive advantage. We're halfway between Lisburn and Belfast and just minutes from the M1 motorway, making us perfect for all sorts of events – from business breakfasts and functions, to weddings and civil ceremonies.

“We’ve a bar and restaurant, and our car park can facilitate more than 200 cars and we are competitively priced.”

Greyhound racing has been re-introduced on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons, with Friday night meetings also scheduled during the Christmas season.

“This site has been a racetrack for more than four decades. Amid all that has gone on over the years in Northern Ireland, for many communities, dog racing was the one thing that brought people together,” John said.

“I’d like to make ours is a venue where people of all ages can come and enjoy themselves, whether that be at one of our family friendly race meetings or a private function.

“We’ve taken our time to find our feet and invest in staff because we want to do things right but now it’s time to put Drumbo Park back on the map.”