As we approach the business end of the greyhound racing calendar, anticipation is building amongst the small, but dedicated following the sport receives for the annual awards ceremony. While the sport is certainly not as popular as it used to be — one of the major working-class pastimes in the 20th century — it still attracts a loyal following who will be keen to see who picks up the individual awards in the build up to the English Greyhound Derby.
The showpiece event at Towcester is still a couple of months away but with so much riding on success in the derby, it’s clear that preparation will be essential. The easing of coronavirus restrictions means a full crowd will likely be in attendance for the 500-metre clash after the last couple were raced either behind closed doors or with a reduced capacity.
Victory in the English Greyhound Derby is enough to write a dog’s name into the history books, and the race’s unpredictability makes betting on sites like Betdaq hard to call a winner. Whoever ends up victorious makes a solid bid for themselves to be considered Greyhound of the Year though and with that in mind, read on as we take a look at the Greyhound of the Year Awards.
The evening itself
Organised by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, the awards evening takes place on May 15th at London’s Royal Lancaster Hall. It will be the first time since 2019 the event has been able to run as usual due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the GBGB clearly happy that normality can resume.
Their website said: “Following on from last year’s virtual awards, we are pleased to announce that the Awards will be returning to the spectacular Royal Lancaster Hotel. This is our opportunity to thank everyone in the sport for their commitment over the past year and to honour our worthy award winners.”
The main contenders
There are obviously several different categories to focus on — Best Dam of British Bred, Bitch, British Bred, Graded, Hurdler, Marathon Performer, trainer, owner etc, meaning there will be a variety of winners.
It’s hard to look past Derby winner Thorn Falcon and Patrick Janssens for their success at Towcester, but the likes of Laurels winner Havana Class and Drumcrow Brent for his remarkable double on the South Coast. Record holder Mark Wallis will be in search of another Champion Trainer accolade but faces fierce competition from the Belgian and Seamus Cahill, who has vastly improved over the last 12 months.
The big races for next year
Of course, there is plenty of time for a greyhound to change the history books, even if they aren’t as considerably favoured by any greyhound tips at the start of the year. The best opportunities a greyhound will have is in the Category One races. While victory might not taste as sweet as it might over at Towcester, nor garner the same kind of prize money, racking up wins across the spring months can stand a trainer in good stead to earn some recognition. There’s still the KAB Maiden Derby and Central Park’s Grand National to race before the ceremony gets underway.