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William Hill St Leger - Perry Barr 710m - £25,000


MARK WALLIS equalled Jack Harvey’s record of five St Leger successes as a trainer when sending out Rubys Rascal (pictured above with owner John Clarke) to win the William Hill-sponsored stayers’ Classic - and the £25,000 first prize - at the race’s new home of Perry Barr on Wednesday.


Last year’s Yorkshire St Leger champion had set a track record in a trial stakes for the 710m event and, when he drew trap one for the decider, trainer Wallis was confident the July 2014 son of Razldazl George and Swift Eva would go close to landing him a fifth win in the event.


“He had a tough draw in the Regency final, but this was perfect and he’s a real star of the kennel. He never gives anything way - he’s quite emotionless at times and unflustered - but is a brilliant racer and we’re just delighted to have won the St Leger again.


“It means a lot and is testament to what we’ve tried to do at Imperial Kennels during my time and, of course, Linda’s (Jones, mother-in-law and former trainer). It’s a real credit to the staff, all of them, but I want to make special mention of my wife Sarah.


“Sarah is the unheralded star of Imperial kennels, both for myself and Linda for over 20 years now. She's not often in the limelight like the rest of our staff and is a huge part of our success.”


Wallis won four St Legers at Wimbledon - Kinda Easy (2009), Aero Majestic (2011), Blonde Reagan (2012), Ferryforth Fran (2016) - and described this Perry Barr victory as up there with the best of them, especially given Rubys Rascal had also reached the final last year.


“He seems stronger now, so we’ve got to think about having a crack at the TV Trophy. He got blown away by Roxholme Magic in their match race, but I think he’s improved since then and he really loves Towcester and runs the track as well there as any. We’ll have a go.”


John Clarke, who owns littermate Rubys Rascal and Rubys Razzle and has enjoyed great success with both, said: “This is fantastic and unforgettable - I’ll never get one like this boy again, he’s been special right from start. They both have, and I cannot praise Mark and his team enough.”


Rubys Rascal was soon in contention, pacing up after Goldies Hotspur had broken in front. The latter was soon pressed by Keplar Nine on the outside and it was left to the winners of the last two Yorkshire St Leger to dominate with Irish-trained favourite Airmount Tess crowded out.


Charlie Lister’s Keplar Nine, this year’s Doncaster hero, went on but was closely pursued by Rubys Rascal - the pair clear of the remainder - and ultimately it was the Towcester dog who proved the stronger, coming through approaching the last bend to win by four and a half lengths in 42.99sec.


Reflecting on the competition, Perry Barr racing manager Martin Seal said: “I really do feel the 2017 William Hill St Leger has been an unqualified success - right from the start. We had a strong entry and we’ve had competitive racing throughout.


“There’s been lots to talk about and admire. The Irish entries of Airmount Tess and Jaytee Patriot was the cherry on an already tasty cake and, although Ger Kiely was clearly devastated that his superstar bitch wasn't able to take the crown, we have a thoroughly deserving winner in Rubys Rascal.


“He showed all the qualities needed to be crowned champion stayer. Credit indeed to champion trainer Mark Wallis for his handling of his tough-as-teak hero. What a dog he’s been for connections. 


“Hopefully everyone enjoyed what has been an absorbing competition and, fingers crossed, the William Hill St Leger will return to Perry Barr next year for the next instalment of a race with a quite wonderful history.”


Caroline Davis, sponsorship manager at Hills, said: “Congratulations to Mark (Wallis) and John (Clarke) - Rubys Rascal was just fantastic on the night and Mark's record in the William Hill St Leger just gets even better! 

“Well done also to Charlie Lister's Keplar Nine who helped make it a superb race on the night for what was a really good crowd at Perry Barr. There was some great race from start to finish, and we were delighted with the strong supporting card also.


"We're also naturally delighted to be associated with the St Leger - it's one of the most famous races in the GBGB Calendar and Perry Barr - its racing office and track management - helped put together a superb first running of the event there.


“It's a race with a new home now and am sure will go from strength to strength. We'll be getting all the feedback from those involved and look forward to the future.”