What a year it proved to be for Mark Wallis. The greyhounded trainer, who is arguably the best of the modern era, was named Greyhound Trainer of the Year for 2021 by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, making it a record 12th victory overall. Having endured a rather difficult 2020, in which he failed to capture the form required to win any notable Category One races, he rediscovered the spark that made him one of the best trainers around, and few could stop him in the midst of a purple patch.
“Overall, we’ve got to be pleased with how the year panned out on the track.” He said: “We were in front for much of the year and, despite a late run from Patrick (Janssens), have managed to secure an incredible twelfth title for the kennel.
“It’s the third highest total of points since 2005 and included six Category One victories.”
After coming close in the Essex Vase with Antigua Princes, Wallis will have to dust himself down after being forced to settle for a podium place, and attempt to retain the plethora of titles he amassed throughout 2021. With the likes of Patrick Janssens and Laurels winner Liz McNair breathing down his neck, lets look at the races that could ensure Wallis wins a 13th trainer of the year this time around.
English Greyhound Derby
It would have frustrated Wallis that he was unable to capture the English Greyhound Derby last year at Towcester. The race that is certainly the most prestigious on the entire greyhound racing calendar, the Derby comes with a whopping £175,000 prize for the winner, and while the Janssens-trained Thorn Falcon went the distance, Wallis will be eager to put things right this year.
Indeed, it was the Belgian trainer who won his only Trainer of the Year award in 2020 to stop an eight-year streak for Wallis, and even after regaining his individual accolade this year, he’ll still be hungry to build a new dynasty of greyhound racing excellence, and a win in the English Greyhound Derby would really get the wheels in motion.
East Anglian Derby
Over to Yarmouth now, and the East Anglian Derby is one of the biggest events on the coast — a 462 metre dash that has a rich history spanning almost 50 years. The sandy terrain makes for an interesting proposition, and weather on the day can really affect the favourites in the odds on https://www.betdaq.com/exchange/greyhound-racing/100008 with Wallis’s Antigua Storm running out as a winner last time round in a closely contested race — one he would do well to retain come the summer.
Wallis currently boasts a plethora of contenders for Greyhound of the Year award currently in Aayamza Royale and Drumcrow Brent, and it is the latter he has to thank for success in the Sussex Cup. It was a summer to remember for the four-year-old, who enjoyed consecutive wins in five races before some lukewarm form this year. It will be interesting to see if Wallis relies on him once more, but either way another victory at the Brighton and Hove Greyhound Stadium should stand him in good stead to retain the trainer of the year award.