Mark Wallis has set his sights on back-to-back Ladbrokes Golden Jacket glory, but has conceded a repeat success will not be easy.
The Lakenheath-based trainer returns to Crayford, Kent, tomorrow evening to the scene where he won last year’s event with impressive bitch Hometown Honey.
And while Wallis is remaining hopeful 33/1 backed Black Francis could bring the Imperial Kennels another success, he conceded another victory in the £17,500 event is far from assured.
“Black Francis is a very decent dog who is in some good form,” he said. “He’s at 33/1 so could be a bit of value on each way to reach the final, but it will be a bit of a step-up to win it.
“It is a big event in the calendar and winning it last year was certainly a highlight of a stellar year.
“The kennels are in cracking form and we all want another good year — I’m confident that will be the case.
“It is also nice to get the prestige that comes with winning an event like this.
“We always want to win big competitions and this is certainly that.
“The first time we won was with a top-class bitch, who cost pennies really when she first came to us.
“She was a real revelation over the years and her success, including at Crayford last year, will be hard to recreate.
“The competition is so competitive, but Black Francis is a very good dog, who could be our next star, so we may have a chance of winning it again.”