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Congratulations to all GBGB Awards winners!

Nearly 400 of the sport’s keenest supporters attended the Greyhound of the Year Awards at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate on Sunday 26th January. The national awards ceremony moved out of London for the first time in seven years and attracted a record nine sponsors; BAGS, Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes, Pin Point Recruitment, Press Association, Racing Post Greyhound TV, SIS and William Hill.

The annual black-tie event celebrates the class of 2013 and the efforts of those behind the scenes who make it all happen, including trainers, owners, kennel-staff and the dedicated volunteers who look after greyhounds into retirement. Jonathan Hobbs and Darrell Williams expertly hosted the evening with SIS providing the videos on the night. GBGB Chairman Maurice Watkins wrote in the programme: “I hope you agree that tonight’s racing footage, kindly edited by SIS, is simply entertainment at its very best.” 

In his opening speech the Chairman noted that, despite the impact of the recession, there were positives for the sport which: “In addition to being popular with customers attending live racing events, and a night at the dogs remains one of the most enjoyable and inexpensive ways to spend leisure time, greyhound racing has long been an important product for the British and Irish off-course Betting industry. 

Adding: “I want Greyhound Racing to thrive rather than just survive and looking to the future it is essential that Greyhound Racing and betting work closely together to advance the sport to benefit all of its participants.”

That set the tone for the evening as 17 awards were presented to deserving recipients and the delighted connections of 2013’s star greyhounds. Recently retired GRA Senior Racing Manager, Bob Rowe, was first on stage to collect the Chairman’s Award for his huge contribution to the sport. BAGS and BGRF Chairman Tom Kelly received the Harry Lloyd Award for Services to Greyhound Racing, introduced by GWA Chairman Jonathan Hobbs who said: “Tom has done, and is doing, something few industry players in the last 30 years have been capable of. He is looking forward, not back.”  

Tom reiterated on stage that it is time for all industry players to pull together for the common good. He spoke of challenging years to come but of opportunities too, which he is keen to explore. The George Ford Award for Services to Retired Greyhounds went to Sarah Horner, the lead volunteer at the at the Lancashire and Belle Vue branch of the RGT who has found over 250 homes in the last three years.

The 2013 Kennelhand of the Year Award and a cheque for £500 was collected by Shelia Tudor, Head Kennelhand to Kim Billingham and the reintroduced Graded Greyhound of the Year Award was presented to the connections of the Doreen Walsh-trained bitch, Cabela Holly at Hove. The trainers and management of Owlerton Stadium were officially presented with the BAGS/SIS Track Championship trophy.

William Hill Greyhound Derby winning owners’ Simon Wooder and Daren Johnson were announced as Betfred Owner(s) of the Year who subsequently picked up the William Hill Standard Distance Award for Sidaz Jack. Mark Wallis thanked his team at Imperial Kennels when picking up the Ladbrokes Trainer of the Year title, in particular his wife, Sarah who he described as his driving force.

The night’s biggest gong, the GBGB Greyhound of the Year, was awarded to Farloe Tango for the Boys from Leceister Syndicate. The William Hill St Leger and Lawrence Jones Memorial Festival 684 winner and track record holder over 687m at Wimbledon and 673m at Coventry was a worthy winner, described by Charlie Lister OBE as the best stayer he has ever put a lead on. Congratulations to all of the winners on a very special night.