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Lakenheath handler Mark Wallis on winning a record-extending 13th Greyhound Trainer of the Year title





After extending his record haul of Greyhound Trainer of the Year titles to 13 at the end of last year, Mark Wallis has set his sights on creating more history with a special milestone of big race wins.

The Lakenheath handler and his team at Imperial Kennels enjoyed another successful campaign during 2022, winning six Category One races on their way to retaining the Greyhound Board of Great Britain’s top trainer crown.

And it is his ever increasing number of Category One race titles that Wallis has got his eye on, with triumphs in the Blue Riband, Golden Sprint, George Ing St Leger, Juvenile Classic, East Anglian Derby and Puppy Oaks last year taking his tally up to 76 wins.

Mark Wallis (second right) and his family pose with their East Anglian Derby winner Hopes Paddington – one of six victories in Category One races during 2022 for Imperial Kennels Picture: Steve Nash Photography
Mark Wallis (second right) and his family pose with their East Anglian Derby winner Hopes Paddington – one of six victories in Category One races during 2022 for Imperial Kennels Picture: Steve Nash Photography

When added to former trainer and mother-in-law Linda Jones’ 13 victories, the Imperial Kennels now boasts an unrivalled 89 Category One race wins – and Wallis is now dreaming of becoming the first kennels to hit the 100 mark.

“My biggest ambition is to be the first ever trainer in the history of the sport to win 100 Group Ones,” he said. “I think we’re way past the best ever, but to set that achievement at winning 100, firstly as a kennels as a whole, both myself and my mother-in-law training, and then after that 100 Category Ones since I took over the licence in 2005.

“The first achievement of the kennel winning 100 Category Ones would be a major goal for us.

“We’d need to have another two good years like the year we’ve just had and we’d be very close to it, that’s for sure. If six is a good year then you can see how many years that might take.

Hopes Paddington wins the East Anglian Derby Picture: Steve Nash Photography
Hopes Paddington wins the East Anglian Derby Picture: Steve Nash Photography

“When we set out the year if we could win one (Category One) then we’d be more than happy.

“Occasionally you’re lucky enough to win one or two and there’s only a few rare times we’ve gone past four or five, but the last couple of years we’ve had sixes.”

Wallis was crowned Trainer of the Year for a record 13th time last week, finishing with a points tally of 1,353, which was 310 points clear of Hockwold-based rival and 2020 champion Patrick Janssens.

Rail McCoy wins the Coral Golden Sprint final Picture: Steve Nash Photography
Rail McCoy wins the Coral Golden Sprint final Picture: Steve Nash Photography

Aside from the half a dozen Category One successes in 2022, Wallis picked out winning a fourth Trainers’ Judgement Night as well as the return of greyhound racing at Mildenhall Stadium, now known as Suffolk Downs, among his highlights from the last 12 months.

“We’re proud of the fact we’ve been at the top for so long,” he said.

“I find it a real honour being in front of all the fellow professional trainers because it’s not as easy as what people think.

“There’s the hard work to get to the top and then to stay at the top as well.

“We’re a family-run operation. My son and daughter, Daniel and Emily, are both into it as well. Daniel works for me full time and Emily is at university and works here in her spare time.

“We love the sport and we love the breed of the dog. We get a real buzz from winning these great races.

“We’re a real welfare-friendly sport now. All those old rumours of what happened to the dogs after they race that’s long since gone.

“Every dog that races is retired and homes are found. The injury side of things, in any sport there’s always going to be injuries, but there’s next to nothing now that can’t be fixed with the quality of veterinary now. It’s a different world.

“We’re comfortable these greyhounds are very well cared for and live lovely lives while they’re racing and certainly get great lives when they’ve finished racing as well. That’s always been our kennel policy anyway.

“The sport is in a good place now in welfare terms and it should be a springboard to maybe get it back to its halcyon days of mass exposure and mass spectator numbers. We’ll see.”