Jeff Rayner, a key cog in the wheels of Dillymore Kennels, is BAGS Kennelhand of the Year for 2022.

This annual award is given to one exceptional kennelhand who shows incredible dedication to their work and who always goes that ‘extra mile’ for the greyhounds in their charge.

Based at the kennels near Ipswich in Suffolk, Jeff has stood by trainer John Mullins and wife Debbie through thick and thin. John said:

“Jeff has been with us for some years and has weathered many storms alongside us, as well as celebrating the good times. He is kind to the dogs and gets up every single morning without fail, come rain or shine. Jeff has a keen interest in the racing side and has also been our maintenance man when times have been tough.”

Dillymore Kennels enjoyed Category One success with Signet Goofy at Sheffield last October, edging out Move Over Cha in a thriller to win the BresBet Steel City Cup.

John continued:

“Jeff is very much part of a team which works all hours to make sure all our dogs are looked after to the best of our ability. Winning Kennelhand of the Year is a lovely way to honour him and this award is very much deserved.”

Owner James Watson said:

“Jeff is a proper kennelhand. He loves the greyhounds, really cares for them and always takes time to stop for a chat with us owners and talk about our dogs. Jeff has even helped my kids get more confident around them. He really is a grafter, and always seems to be working, probably because he cares for the dogs so much.”

The nominations were judged by an industry panel comprising RPGTV’s Tanya Stevenson, Greyhound Trust Harvel (Croftview Kennels) Manager Cheryl Miller, GBGB’s Welfare and Integrity Manager Duncan Gibson, and Racing Operations Executive Scott Harvey. The panel also chose two runners up – Samantha Bonner (who works for trainer Vicky Lea, attached to Monmore) and Ryan Gilbert (kennelhand to father Chris, attached to Perry Barr).

Panellist Tanya Stevenson said:

Kennelhands are the unsung heroes of our sport, putting in endless hours of devotion to care for our canine athletes so they can reach their potential on the track. They deserve our utmost praise and support for all that they do day-in, day-out.

“It was no easy task selecting a winner. We had some fantastic entries again this year and thank you to everyone who took the time put a nomination forward. A big congratulations to Jeff and our two runners-up, Samantha and Ryan.”