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CHAMPION trainer Mark Wallis has hit the ground running in 2017 and recently revealed that he is eyeing a tilt at Linda Mullins’ record of 364 open race victories in a calendar year, which she set in 2000.

The eight-times winner of the Trainer of the Year title has already passed the 100 open races winners mark since January 1 and is so far notching up the winner-a-day it will take to wrest the record from the marvellous Mrs Mullins, whose kennels at Manningtree in Essex churned out winner after winner in the nineties.

Wallis has both Roswell Romanov and Rubys Razzle running for him in the final of the Gold Cup at Harlow and the duo represent more than 70 per cent of the book on the contest.

Roswell Romanov won at the semi-final stage and has been the odds-on favourite in both preliminary rounds. Rubys Razzle goes into this first Category One final staged by Harlow unbeaten in the heats and that includes a success over Roswell Romanov at the first round stage.

What could swing it in favour of Rubys Razzle is her trapping and early speed. She has yet to be led in this competition and if breaking with the same consistency on Tuesday there is little doubt she can turn the first of the six bends in front and that is a huge advantage at this venue.

Whilst he is a seeded middle runner, the draw in trap six would seem to be an advantage in this line-up for Bubbly Torpedo. Paul Young’s dog impressed at the opening stage with a smart all-the-way 37.16sec (normal) win off a good 14.76sec sectional and a repeat of that would put him in the firing line.

Swift Slaney showed good stamina to win at the semi-final stage but must improve on the clock and the same sentiments apply to Cooladerry Lid, who caught the eye when winning during the first round and staying on well after early trouble to qualify for the final.

Astute Missile is the only one we haven’t mentioned. Seamus Cahill’s dog has attracted trouble in the preliminaries and it is difficult to assess his current well-being or otherwise.

Suffice to say, a dog with a win over Oscar Whisky, as does Astute Missile – the heats of the Arc at Swindon in March – merits the utmost respect.

So, to summarise. The early pace is likely to come from Rubys Razzle and Bubbly Torpedo. Roswell Romanov is fancied to track them around the first and second turns and will be a serious threat, particularly if he is a length of two off the leaders. Astute Missile looks set to be mid-division throughout whilst, late pace may be presented by both Swift Slaney and Cooladerry Lid.

The final draw

1 Cooladerry Lid

2 Rubys Razzle

3 Roswell Romanov

4 Astute Missile (m)

5 Swift Slaney (m)

6 Bubbly Torpedo (m)


First Semi-Final

Following his defeat when odds-on in the first round, all eyes were on Roswell Romanov who was again made the warm favourite. The August ’14 son of Quail Hollow was having only his second look at what can prove a tricky track when beaten at the first round stage by kennelmate Rubys Razzle. Astute Missile broke best and led for the first and second bends but the Seamus Cahill-trained dog was soon under pressure from Roswell Romanov who went on as the field past the line with a circuit to travel. It was pretty much a done deal thereafter as Roswell Romanov kept on to win by two and a half lengths from Astute Missile in 37.36sec (normal).

Second Semi-Final

Rubys Razzle gave Mark Wallis a double with another textbook display of front-running. The July ’14 son of Irish Derby winner Razldazl George produced a smart sectional as she quickly increased her tempo and she opened up to score by a shade over three lengths in a fastest-of-the-round 37.06sec (normal). Bubbly Torpedo was the quickest of the rest in the early stages and the Paul Young-trained dog closed the gap to around a length at one stage before Rubys Razzle finished the quicker.

Third Semi-Final

A treble for Mark Wallis looked on the cards when Garryglass Champ, a dog whom his trainer rates extremely highly, broke quickly and contested with Carnegie going to the first bend. However, the latter drove the turn and Garryglass Champ was forced to check. Carnegie maintained a good gallop but was continually pressed by the Jason Bloomfield-trained Swift Slaney who swept into the lead approaching the fifth bend. The May ’14 son of Godsend went on to pull-off a 14-1 surprise success by a shade under two lengths in 37.64sec (normal). Cooladerry Lid was a strong running second. The dog trained at Towcester by Jean Liles had trapped slowly and, after a setback or two, was last with a circuit to run. She picked up well in the closing stages to take second.