Mark Wallis regained his Champion Trainer crown from Patrick Janssens at the end of last season, racking up a huge 1,346 points — a massive 359 more than the defending champion Janssens (987) — as he was named the Greyhound Trainer of the Year for a record 12th time in his career. Having won the personal accolade for eight years in a row between 2012 and 2019, the Imperial Kennels boss would have been keen to get his title back from Janssens at the first opportunity after he ended his era of dominance and he did so with considerable ease.
So, with Wallis heavily backed to retain the Champion Trainer award with the greyhound betting sites again at the end of this season, let’s take a look at some of his best victories from 2021. Read on to find out more!
Aayamza Royale – Regency
A two-time TV Trophy winner, having won the Monmore-based Category One final back-to-back in 2020 and 2021, Aayamza Royale, the 2020 Greyhound of the Year,added another victory to her impressive CV in the Regency at Brighton and Hove. Dropping down to 695m from marathon distance, the November 2017 daughter of BallymacEskeand Ascot Lydia came from the back of the field at the fifth bend to win by a short-head clear of Ragtime Arthur in truly dramatic fashion.
“Hove plays to her strengths,” said Wallis who watched on from Monmore. “She won the first of her TV Trophies there, so had won over both six and eight bends – and you know she’ll be bang there given a clear run through and she’s tracked really well in the final, using all her experience – and then what a finish up the home-straight.”
Antigua Storm – East Anglian Derby
There was similar drama in the 75th edition of the East Anglian Derby as Antigua Storm knocked all the trends to come from the back of the field to win the race’s £15,000 prize purse for Wallis. The 7/4 favourite, Antigua Storm was last at the first and still trailed in fourth at the final bend, with Bockos Jon Jo looking like the probable winner after leading for the most part of the race. However, Wallis’ dog showed immense speed on the home straight, drifting out wide and leaving everyone in his wake to win by a length.
“It was just a sensational run,” the trainer said.“I have been going to Yarmouth since the late 1980s and have never seen a Derby Final like that. It goes to show that you don’t need to lead to win, albeit I accept that the two in front struggle to see out the distance. It was his ninth race and he has two second places and a win in Category One finals.”
Drumcrow Brent – Sussex Cup
There aren’t many major Category One titles missing from Wallis’ lengthy résumé and there are even fewer now that Drumcrow Brent ended the 12-time Champion Trainer’s wait for the Sussex Cup. Contested at Brighton & Hove on the same night as Aaamaza Royale’s victory in the Regency, the August 2018 son of Droopys Sydney and Drumcrow Kylie led home his fellow Imperial Kennels dog to win by nothing more than a neck in the 515m, £10,000 race.
“We’ve been lucky enough to win most of the major races, but the Sussex Cup had escaped us despite a couple of near-misses so it’s nice to add that one to the list!”said Wallis after his maiden success in the top-category final.