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Mark Wallis has two shots at glory in the Essex Vase final at Romford

Mark Wallis is confident he has two live contenders gunning for glory in tomorrow’s Coral Essex Vase final.

After last week’s semi-final, in which Lakenheath handler Wallis had six dogs involved, Antigua Rum and Antigua Romeo have made it through to the conclusion of the first Category One event of the year at Romford.

Wallis, who has won the title four times previously, said: “We had a strong number of entries from the start and I was pleased with that.

Mark Wallis will have two dogs running in the Essex Vase final at Romford.
Mark Wallis will have two dogs running in the Essex Vase final at Romford.

“There was six in the semis and a couple were unlucky, another two ran well and we managed to get two through.

“It looks like being a very good final between six cracking dogs.

“We’ll hopefully have plenty of other chances to win Category Ones over the year, but it would be good to get one on the board early.”

As far as the bookmakers are concerned, second favourite Antigua Rum represents Wallis’ best chance of victory.

The September 2017 dog, who won the Coronation Cup last year, is back to full fitness after suffering a stress fracture.

“He won the Coronation Cup and then run again before Covid, but came back in June and suffered the stress fracture to his wrist,” said Wallis.

“He’s healed well from that and we’ve managed to get him ready quite quickly.

“He may not be blessed with brilliant early pace but he’s all about the second half of the race.

“If he can be in contention at the halfway stage then he has a real chance.”

Antigua Romeo, meanwhile, heads into the contest having won his semi-final in impressive fashion.

Wallis added: “He’s got plenty of early pace and will look to get to the front. He’s more of a front runner and that is going to be his best chance.

“He’s been a really good dog that has done well for us around four bends, and only recently have we stepped him up to 575 (metres). He’s taken to it well.”

Hockwold-based Patrick Janssens, who recently halted former boss Wallis’ eight-year domination of the Trainer of the Year title, also goes into the final double handed.

Desperado Dan and Seaglass Tiger will represent the Belgian’s kennel, and Wallis is wary of both.

“Both of Pat’s dogs are very good,” he said.

“Pat is a very good friend and he managed to get the better of us last year. He’s got a really good kennel of dogs this year and hopefully we can both dominate a lot of the Open Races.”

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