May 19 2013 Latest news:
Friday, June 1, 2012
A leading trainer at Yarmouth Stadium can expect a hero’s reception when he returns with the dog that captured the richest prize in the sport at the weekend.
Mark Wallis and Blonde Snapper were the toast of Wimbledon on Saturday night after scooping the £125,000 prize for owner Mark Currell in the William Hill Derby at Plough Lane.
And the dynamic double act can expect more adulation at a victory parade which is set to take place at Yarmouth Stadium later this month.
Wallis, 47, who has around 60 dogs at his Lakenheath Imperial Kennels, was enjoying victory in the sport’s blue riband event for the second time, following up his 2009 success with Kinda Ready.
But his success with 8-1 scorer Blonde Snapper, at three and-a-half, the oldest dog in the race and classed as a near veteran, marked a remarkable turnaround for a greyhound who suffered a career-threatening injury at a tender age.
“He got a terrible injury as a puppy when he broke a wrist and he was out for a long while but we managed to get him back.
“We ran him in the Derby last year but he was knocked out in the first round and it seemed like everything had fallen apart.
“But we got him back a couple of months later and he did us proud for the rest of the year.”
Blonde Snapper, who had been available at 80-1 ante-post, came through five qualifying rounds to reach Saturday’s final eventually winning the 480m race in 28.65 seconds with a couple of lengths to spare from 6-4 favourite Farloe Ironman.
It meant that tearful owner, St Osyth, Essex-based businessman Currell had achieved a lifetime’s ambition.
“He would be classed as one of the bigger owners in the sport. He joined us a couple of years ago and has had a tremendous amount of success.
“He has been trying to win the Derby for the last 15 or 16 years and has spent a lot of money. His face on the night was something special – something the Sky cameras captured really well,” said Wallis.
No decision has yet been made on the future of Blonde Snapper who, with 39 races under his belt, is relatively lightly-raced.
“It is common for Derby winners to be retired to stud but that may be for the future.
“A summer campaign geared to retaining the £25,000 William Hill Classic, which Blonde Snapper won last year, is probable.
Wallis, a regular winner of Yarmouth silverware, who won the East Anglian Derby with Fear No One in 2005, paid tribute to the team including physio Ron Mills, who nursed Blonde Snapper back to health.
“For 90 per cent of dogs it would be a career-ending injury but we got the dog back and the injury healed better than expected. Bear in mind these dogs are going around bends at something like 40 miles an hour.”
He described Irish-born Blonde Snapper, a product of Droopys Kewell and Rough Charley as “a beautiful greyhound.”
“He is a litte bit nervous, a bit stand-offish. When he gets to the track all he wants to do is run.”
A second Derby victory is a major feather in the cap for Wallis, who took over the training operation run by his mother-in-law Linda Jones in 2005, and works in tandem with his wife Sarah.
Wallis is one of the handful of trainers who have managed to win the historic race, which dates back to the 1920s, more than once.
On Saturday he took the spotlight from veteran training legends Charlie Lister and Nick Savva, who have won the prestigious race 10 times between them.
“It is nice to be mentioned in the same breath as them. Age wise I have got plenty of time,” said Wallis.