Mark Wallis feels that there is little to separate his leading contenders in the second round of this year’s ECC Timber Oaks at Belle Vue, writes Graham Clark.
After winning the Category One competition for the first time in his career 12 months ago with Cashen Maureen, the Lakenheath handler has high hopes of following it up after all four of his entries in the 470 metre event made it through from this year’s opening round on Saturday.
While Saffrons Anna has avoided her kennelmates after being drawn in heat four of tomorrow’s second round, it has not worked out so kind for Aero Babooshka, Evanta Evita and Domino Storm with all three being pitched together in heat three.
“Evanta Evita, Domino Storm and Aero Babooshka are all quality bitches in their own rights and any one of the three are capable of winning the whole event on their best form,” said Wallis.
“There are some other good bitches in the competition like Forest Twilight so it is far from being an easy competition. We’ve started well but there is a long way to go yet.
“With Cashen Maureen winning the competition last year it ensured we had a strong end to the year and we have high hopes that with a bit of luck we can retain the title.”
Reflecting on the first round, it was the winning performances of both last year’s runner-up Evanta Evita and Aero Babooshka, who was making her first start since September, that really caught the eye for Wallis.
“Evanta Evita reached the final last year and it was great to see her comeback as she was slightly lame after getting knocked out of the Henlow Derby so to get her to win was awesome as she was in a tough heat,” said Wallis. “It was Aero Babooshka’s first start since she was headed by Airfoce Duchess in the final of the Brighton Belle so she is a relatively fresh dog but it was a top display to win after lay off.”
While the ECC Timber Oaks is currently centre stage at Kirkmanshulme Lane tomorrow will also see the start of the ECC Timber Laurels.
Representing the soon to be seven-times champion trainer in the 470m Category Two event will be useful open race performer Blue Moment.
n Last night (Wednesday) Wallis sent out both Adageo Bob and Swift Whirlwind in the semi-finals of the Category One Coral Essex Vase over 575m at Romford.