Mark Wallis hailed the slick trapping skills of Clondoty Alex after he turned in a career-best performance to steal the show in the 70th East Anglian Greyhound Derby at Yarmouth last Wednesday.
Despite being faced with a difficult trap draw in three, the son of Razldazl Jayfkay made up for his first-round exit in the event 12 months ago to give the Lakenheath handler his second success in the Category One prize, having first taken it back in 2005 with Fear No One.
Needing to make a fast start from his less-than-ideal berth, the 9-2 chance did just that when making a lightning quick break before cutting across favourite Bubbly Turbo to hold his pitch in front at the first bend.
As the chasing Bubbly Turbo and Ballinclare Solo, in second and third respectively, came together off the penultimate turn it helped increase the advantage of the May 2013 dog leaving him to take victory by four-and-three-quarter lengths in a time of 27.79 seconds.
“The only chance he had of winning was if he made a blistering start and he managed to do that,” said Wallis.
“It was the best I’ve seen him come out the traps in a long time. It was that good break that won him the race. I quietly fancied him as he was the best I’ve seen him.
“It is a tough competition for the dogs. You need a dog with plenty of speed and durability that can handle those quick runs.
“He didn’t win any of the rounds but he saved the best for the final which is the sign of a good dog.”
Wallis, who celebrated a double at the Norfolk track on Wednesday, which was initiated by the victory of Calco Flyer in a supporting open, will be hoping both Swift Whirlwind and Ribble Aon can move him a step closer to more top level glory at Crayford tonight when contesting the second semi-final of the Ladbrokes Gold Collar.
“Swift Whirlwind is not ideally drawn in four, and trap one for Ribble Aon is not ideal,” added Wallis.
“They are both equally capable of getting through but at the same time are equally capable of getting knocked out.
“They are probably the fastest two dogs in the race but both lack consistency.”
The seven-times champion trainer is optimistic that Evanta Fantasy can reach the final of the supporting Category Two Guys & Dolls Final at the Kent track by taking the Dolls semi-final.
“She has been around a long time but I think she will win the bitch semi-final, whether she can beat the dogs in the final is another question,” he said.
While Wallis saw all of his entries eliminated in the first round of both the Puppy Cup at Romford on Friday, and the John Smiths Kent Derby at Central Park on Sunday, there was better news for Hockwold-based handler Patrick Janssens after his Sussex Cup winner Barricane Tiger reached the semi-finals of the latter competition.
n Last night, Wallis was due to be represented by both Rubys Rascal and Billys Bullet in the final of the Pinpoint Yorkshire St Leger at Doncaster.