Mark Wallis has hailed the achievements of Cornmaddy Jumbo after becoming the first ever hurdler to win the Greyhound of the Year title.
The Lakenheath handler was full of praise for the son of Ardkill Jamie after his name was announced as the 2014 Greyhound of the Year at this year’s GBGB Awards at the Lancaster Hotel in London.
Owned by the Lil Risky Fan Club, which includes Wallis himself, the £1,200 bargain buy, who also won the Hurdler of the Year prize, created history on the track in 2014 when becoming the first dog to win all three major hurdling titles: The Springbok, Champion Hurdle and Grand National, in the same year.
“I did say that in the run-up I thought that Cornamaddy Jumbo may be overlooked for the prize and the vibes on the night suggested it was not going to go his way,” said Wallis.
“There were three dogs who deserved the award and thankfully it came out in favour of us. Cornamaddy Jumbo though deserved to win the award as at the end of the day he created history.
“He peaked at three different times of the year to win those major events and to me a greyhound of the year should be one that does just that.
“I was delighted for the kennel that we won the prize and it was the icing on the cake of what was a tremendous year for us, while the fact that he cost just over £1,000 gives every small owner in the sport belief that dreams can happen.”
Making his English debut a winning one when scoring in an open hurdle race contest on the support card of last year’s Coral Coronation Cup final at Romford, it was clear to see that Wallis had a potential new star on his hands, something he believed could be the case if everything fell just right.
“He was a fast dog on the flat in Ireland and he had schooled well and we knew that if he took to hurdling he would have a chance in the big races. We took that chance with him and it paid off,” said Wallis.
Looking back at Cornamaddy Jumbo’s three most memorable victories last year Wallis, who collected his Ladbrokes sponsored Trainer of the Year title at Sunday’s awards, feels there is one stand-out display.
“The biggest win for me was probably the Grand National as I didn’t think he would stay the stiff 480 metres trip at Sittingbourne,” said Wallis.
“I thought he could win the two events at Wimbledon (Springbok and Champion Hurdle) but he was so gutsy to win the Grand National.”
The 50-year-old saw the defence of his trainers’ title receive an early boost at Hall Green on Tuesday, following a last-gasp victory for Billys Bullet in the final of the Category Two Partex Marking Systems Prestige over 645 metres.
“Billys Bullet ran a great race and he just got there right on the line. He really had to dig deep but he really stuck his neck out,” said Wallis.
“We were just beaten with Blonde Razor in the final by Stuart Buckland’s dog Scala Dromin last year, so it was sweet revenge, pipping one of his dogs at the post this year.”