Drumbo Park is back on winning form after being re-opened by a former employee.
John Connor was one of 44 staff who lost his job when the Lisburn track closed its gates earlier this year but his passion for racing prompted him to work tirelessly over the last few months to get the business back on track.
The venue has been rebranded as a conference and events venue, as well as a racetrack, creating more than 30 jobs in the process.
After John was informed in January of this year that the business would be closing, he got together with new commercial director Nick Rose and they formed a company called Run with Passion Ltd to make a deal with the liquidators to buy all the assets.
The previous directors had said at the time that there were a number of factors behind their closure including the rise of online betting, a lack of government funding and restrictive licensing laws here, as well as a decline in the number of customers and racing dogs but John is confident that the business can return to its former glory days.
He said: “Our location alone gives us a competitive advantage. We are 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 plus our carpark can facilitate over 200 cars and we are very competitively priced compared to the city centre.”
In addition to fully utilising the high-spec facility Greyhound Racing has been re-introduced on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons with Friday nights also 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,” he explained.
“Other than Drumbo, there is now just one other greyhound course left in Northern Ireland and 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 – there is definitely a lot of life left in the old dog yet!”