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Mark Wallis - Ladbrokes Trainer of the Year 2018

Mark Wallis

Wallis receives the Ladbrokes sponsored 2017 Trainer of the Year trophy from Crayford RM Danny Rayment at last year's awards - another stellar year followed.

THE final batch of open races at Central Park on Sunday wrapped up the Trainer of the Year standings for 2018 - confirming that Mark Wallis wins the title for a record tenth time and seventh in a row. An incredible achievement. 

The boss of Imperial Kennels first won the title in 2005 having taken over from Linda Jones, his mother-in-law and a former champion trainer herself. Wins in 2008, 2009, 2012 and every year since have followed.

Wallis scored 983 points from 182 open-race wins in 2018, finishing ahead of Kevin Hutton (779), with the top six completed by Liz McNair (631), Patrick Janssens (583), Angela Harrison (490) and Philip Simmonds (481). 

All six now qualify for the Trainers’ Championship meeting - the date and venue to be decided - where Wallis lines up as the defending champion having, amongst an array of titles in 2018, wrested the Trainers’ Championship trophy back from Kevin Hutton. 

In doing so, the dual Derby-winning trainer joined his great rival on three Trainers’ Championship wins, with the intention of both in 2019 to close on the now-retired Charlie Lister OBE’s six victories. Lister passed the license on to Chris Akers in 2019.

 Mark Wallis Trainers Championship

Receiving the trophy at the Trainers' Championship meeting at Towcester in April

As for Wallis, he is not about to pass on the baton - just yet. A topsy-turvy year saw the usual winners-fest, but the closure of Towcester and a changing of the guard in terms of the canine talent at Imperial Kennels has meant an eventful 12 months. 

“Towcester was a real blow, not just for us but the sport as a whole,” he said. “It came as a shock, certainly in how things shut down immediately, and like most trainers attached there we had to take stock - and also look to where we might now race our dogs. 

“Henlow therefore has been a saving grace - and been brilliant. We’ve got opportunities for our graded runners, plus their Sunday afternoon meetings with open races just seem to be getting more popular with every week. Well done to Kevin Boothby and his team.” 

Asked to single out particular highlights of the year, Wallis points to his Trainers’ Championship meeting success and a Derby campaign which saw him qualify kennelmates Bombers Bullet and Bruisers Bullet through to the final. 

“The Bruiser Boyz, which own the pair, are great owners to have, and we had a lot of fun - especially the week of the final!” he added. “We might not have won it, but the atmosphere building up to it was tremendous. 

“Bombers Bullet then winning the Sunderland Grand Prix and Champion Stakes at Romford was extra special, so it was a devastating blow for us all when he broke down at Shelbourne. Losing Bruisers Bullet was also a real hit, but he should be back.” 

Nottingham and another crack at the Derby is now the plan for Bruisers Bullet should his recovery go to plan. “The track is perfect for him and, of course, we’ll be aiming to win another Derby - that remains the ambition of us all in the game. 

“Well done to the Corden family for taking it on. It’s our greatest race and is the showpiece for the sport. We all need to get behind it, spread the word and, in a difficult time for the sport, hopefully use it as a springboard. There’s still no better sport than ours.”

The full, final 2018 Trainer of the Year Championship table can be viewed here.

The Ladbrokes sponsored Trainer of the Year trophy will be presented at the Greyhound of the Year awards at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge on Sunday 27th January. Join us for one of greyhound racing’s nights of the year! Event details and ticket information can be found here.