If you ever take the train to or from London on the main Liverpool Street to East Anglia line, you can’t fail to notice how the landscape gradually changes from the open countryside of Constable Country to the Essex commuter belt into the East End of Metropolitan London. A key landmark of that final transition can be seen as the train rattles past Romford Stadium, one of the leading dog racing tracks in the country.

At least, that used to be the case, but over recent months, the site has been undergoing a major transformation. The stadium closed in April, and the down-at-heel main stand will be replaced by modern facilities, including a swanky restaurant and several bars. The new-look Romford stadium will be the top dog racing venue in the country, and if you’ve never been to the dogs before, it’s about time you put it on your things to do list.

The focus is on the fun

Some see greyhound racing as some sort of poor relation to horse racing, but that misses the point. Sure, getting dressed up for a day at Royal Ascot is an experience like no other, but it is not “better” than greyhound racing any more than a night at the opera is “better” than an evening in your local pub with good friends.

Greyhound race meetings typically take place in the evening, and the atmosphere is fun and informal. You’ll see after-work groups of colleagues, couples on dates and no shortage of families with kids. The races come thick and fast, and there is always something happening.

Place your bets

Placing a wager is all part of the entertainment, and you will find no shortage of bookmaker outlets at the new stadium. Romford is also much beloved of the online sites like www.greyhoundbetting.co.uk so you can also place a bet from the comfort of your smartphone if that is your preference.

Each race will have six dogs running, and the odds for each will be posted. The simplest type of bet is to simply back the dog of your choice to win. If the dog comes in first, collect your winnings and buy a round of drinks, it’s that simple. You can also back the dog to place, which means finishing in the top two, which will, naturally enough, attract shorter odds. The other alternative is to double your stake with an each way bet, where you back the dog to either win or place. There are other, more complex types of bets available, but for the newbie, that is more than enough to keep you entertained for your first night at the dogs.

An Essex institution

Romford Stadium is one of the iconic locations in Essex, and the fact that this prime piece of real estate has not been simply bulldozed for yet more housing is a testament to the popularity of greyhound racing. The grand reopening is scheduled to take place in early 2019, so be sure to pay a visit – you’re guaranteed a night out like no other.