Monday 6th January 2014
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2013 has come and gone and undoubtedbly we can sit back and revel in the fact we secured a 5th Trainer Of The Year title. I hope everyone enjoyed reading my in depth Review of 2013 and the Website Awards which can be found on Pete's Column. It's back to business now and our first night's racing of 2014 was a case of where we left off at the end of the year.
With most of our dogs having a short break over Christmas I was thinking to myself our entries might just need a run going into the heats of the Coral Coronation Cup at Romford on Friday night but I needn't have worried. Our exciting staying prospect Aayamzamodel flew out the traps in heat 3 and never looked in danger winning comfortably by 5 lengths in a fastest of the night 35.48 on a track rated normal (at least 30 slow in my opinion) with Ilewin Frimley qualifying back in 3rd place. This £5,000 to the winner event could have Reel Trickyone's name written all over it if he continues in the rich vein of form he is in. Another good break saw our Essex Vase winner contest with the well fancied Jaytee Jules but once he got the better of that rival he made his best way home and though always looking the winner he had only 3/4 length to spare over the running on Sidarian Jaguar in 35.67. Jazz Tilly had a good year in 2013 and showed she could play a big part of our team for 2014 when exploding from a favourable trap 3, leading by over 5 lengths at halfway she did come back to the field but still had 2 lengths to spare winning in 35.73. We can expect some improvement from Tilly if she was to get such a lead in a tough semi-final on Wednesday. Hometown Honey nearly made it a memorable four timer when just shaded by Shaneboy Allen. After escaping a bit of trouble at the first bend she set after the leader but Honort head in 35.97. With three winners and all five qualifying it exceeded even my expectations and if, as I expect, they come on for the run we could be looking at getting more than one in the Category 2 final but we will take nothing for granted.
At Sittingbourne last night it was great to see a debut open race win from Rosealinda in a 480m maiden. With no previous look round she worked her way through the field to lead at the 3rd bend and though the time of 30.03 was moderate she will win her share of races this year. Benkaat Blue was bumped out the traps which cost him a win over 450m eventually finishing a close up 3rd. Adageo Brae lost all chance when stumbling badly out the start in heat 1 of the Sittingbourne Standard while Bridge Bandit was unluckily knocked over in his heat but seems OK afterwards.
In all the madness of the last month of the year we are all still bitterly disappointed by the career ending injuries to Bridge Honcho and Bridge Ruth. Both had a lot more to give despite getting on in age and would have been the first ones on my team sheet for the Trainers Championship meeting at Sheffield in late March.
Bridge Honcho only ever raced in top class and won 10 from 40 open races which included the valuable Lawrence Jones Memorial 480m at Monmore and the performance of 2014 in the Betfred Eclipse final at Nottingham.
Bridge Ruth won an incredible 17 opens from 37 races with many highlights including the destruction of a good field by over 7 lengths in the Brighton Belle final back in September. Both are irreplaceable.
After the cracking start to 2014 we are going to be even shorter than the 4/5 sponsors Ladbrokes are making us for a sixth Trainer Of The Year title but I wouldn't be rushing to back us at that price. Of course we will be trying our best but with only a team of around 40 dogs in the kennel, a number I'm keen to keep to, we will need to be lucky to beat the strongly backed kennels of Paul Young, Charlie Lister, Chris Allsopp and Seamus Cahill (I fancy to have a good year). We look short in the top class four bend type runners and I'm looking to strengthen this department. With less staff I also might not be travelling far and wide in search of open winners but will be trying to have representatives in every Category 1 and 2 competitions where ever they might be. This, if we can do well, will insure our all important top six place but I do have a feeling other kennels will have an advantage over us both numerically and strength wise. This is something I'm quite chilled out about and my most important task is to make sure my loyal owners who stick by us are as happy as I can make them. I want it to be a personal joy to have a greyhound in training with us. I will be working hard on my Markwallisgreyhounds Racing Club and long term I want to make it the best Racing Club in the country (contact us if you want to be a part of the club).
As for the sport as a whole I have taken a step back from the politics not being on the GTA and GBGB Committees but I will always have my say on what I think is right and wrong as I do care passionately about our industry. Our website will continue to improve and if anyone would like to make any suggestions we will be keen to listen. Look out in a few days for our CLASS OF 2014 which will feature all of our current kennel strength and my thoughts on their prospects for the year.
Watch out each week as we will have a nice pup up for sale either to a single owner or in shares. These will be the kind of pups that will strengthen our kennel as the year goes on. Ilehaveone, the last one for sale, has now been sold and we welcome new owners Carl and Anthony who have joined Steve and Linda Cragg (Hometown Honey fame) in this young pup. I'm currently negotiating a deal on a lovely youngster who will be on the site later this week. Remember our featured dogs for sale have included Category 1 winners Adageo Bob and Glanmire Lad and other kennel stars such as Blonde Razor, Planning, Castlebride Dan and many more. It was nice to see one of our latest ones Rosealinda record her debut open win at Sittingbourne last night.
A decent start in 2014 as well on the graded front at Yarmouth, from our four runners we had two winners. Benkaat Dolly is an improving pup and was a good second in an A3 (watch out for her on the open circuit later in the year when stepped up in trip). Ile More at last managed to win a race scoring by a neck in 29.34 in A6 company. Ilewin Aggen who was unlucky in his previous race again found trouble at the first turn but managed to somehow get up on the line to win by the minimum margin in 28.57.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
The Coronation Cup semi-finals at Romford on Wednesday kick off our action this week with all five of our entries qualifying from the first round. I'm yet to pencil in definite plans for the rest of the week. We also have many of our stars having trials at different places during the week.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
Having thought last week that many of our runners would need a run or two after a short break I decided not to put a selection up for the Coronation Cup and when I saw some of the ante post prices on Thursday I was kicking myself as short of a run or not Reel Trickyone 14/1, Aayamzamodel 33/1, Jazz Tilly 33/1 and Hometown Honey 25/1 were all incredible prices. I did tweet that two of these should be backed on the day and for those that are on Twitter then you must follow me @wallis_mark as I will always tweet what's a bit of value when we have runners. Unfortunately having missed the boat I can't see any value left in our Coronation Cup runners so I will leave it until next week.