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RPGTV Henlow Derby - Henlow 460M - £10,000

IT is a measure of the depth of the quality currently residing at Mark Wallis’ Imperial Kennels that the seven times Trainer of the Year has the first two in the betting for Sunday’s £10,000 final of the Henlow Derby (460m) – live on RPGTV.

In California and Clondoty Alex, the Towcester trainer has two runners that have reached the decider of this Category One contest unbeaten and, in the case of the former, is improving with every run.

Carlifornia, a lightly-raced son of Ballymac Vic, has taken to the Bedfordshire track like a duck to water. He has had three starts over course and distance, and has won the lot, advancing on the clock on each occasion. Pertinently, he defeated Clondoty Alex by almost two lengths in a pre-competition trial here.

California is all about pace. He’s fast away, quick to the turn and has the spec to put this field to the sword from the outset. The unconventional shape of the Henlow track would also seem to play to his strengths.

Clondoty Alex is slightly inferior to his kennelmate on the clock but he has enough speed to the first bend to be well placed on the inside and to make a race of it with California along the back straight.

It has been a marvellous end to the year for Clondoty Alex. After a frustrating William Hill Derby, during which he was interfered with when seemingly holding a qualifying position at the third round stage, and then being beaten a short-head in the final of the Derby Plate, he landed the East Anglian Derby and should go very close on Sunday.

Paul Young was in Ireland tying the knot with his assistant trainer, Miriam Emmet, on Thursday but they will be back on Sunday hoping that Ajlo Legalbeagle can give them the perfect wedding present. This very likeable May ’14 whelp ought to enjoy plenty of space on the outside of California and is strong enough to play a part at the business end.

Peregrine Falcon represents the John Mullins kennel, which on Tuesday landed the Breeders’ Produce Stakes at Nottingham with Badabing. The dual Derby finalist has obvious class. He has been there and done it and, if trapping well, must enter the reckoning.

Lenson Santi has reached the final unbeaten and was, in fact, the fastest first round winner. Much depends on Tony Collett’s dog breaking well but if he does he will prove a serious contender for top honours.

Prince Rock is easily the youngest and least experienced in the line-up. That, however, is countered by the fact that the September ’14 son of Sidarian Rhythm is trained by Charlie Lister.

The man from Newark is a past master at coaxing a big run from his charges in finals so, on that basis alone, the utmost respect is due to Prince Rock. It is also worth mentioning that the dog who has won two from four since joining Lister has the most progressive profile of these.

The Final Draw

1 Clondoty Alex

2 Prince Rock

3 Peregrine Falcon

4 Lenson Santi (m)

5 California (w)

6 Ajlo Legalbeagle (w)


John Mullins (trainer of Peregrine Falcon): “He took a little time to settle when he first joined us (late August) but he is fine now. He’s been drawn in trap one for the first round and semi-final, perhaps he will break better from trap three in the final. He reached the final of the Irish and English Derbies and has been a great dog for the lads that own him. You cannot fault him and hopefully he can run a big race at the weekend.”


RPGTV, the sponsor, is providing £500 and a salver to the breeder of the Henlow Derby winner. Special mementos were handed to the connections of all six finalists after last Sunday's semi-finals.

Sunday's breeders: 


1 Clondoty Alex: Gerard Whyte,  Gallows Lane, Lifford, Co. Donegal.

2 Prince Rock: Mrs. Mary Kennedy, Rathbeg, Gortnahoe, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

3 Peregrine Falcon: Ms C.M. Bray, The Oaks, Chruchtown, Navan, Co. Meath.

4 Lenson Santi  Joe McIlhone, Killinan, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

5 California: Patrick Scally, Castlemitchell, Athy, Co. Kildare.

6 Ajlo Legalbeagle:  Sean Dunphy, Ballyvalican, Portlaw, Co. Waterford.



The First Semi-Final

California has really taken to Henlow. Mark Wallis’ early-pacer is unbeaten in three starts over the 460-metre trip at the Bedfordshire track and he seems to get quicker with every run. His latest performance was his best so far as he trapped clear and was never threatened as he came home five lengths ahead of Charlie Lister’s Prince Rock in 27.24sec (normal). The latter had something of a battle with Idle Talker for most of the trip before edging ahead of that runner in the closing stages to take second place by a clear length from the Carol Grasso-trained Idle Talker.

The Second Semi-Final

Clondoty Alex, the East Anglian Derby winner, provided the second-leg of a Mark Wallis double when breaking well and making all in 27.43sec (normal). The son of Razldazl Jayfkay has been in good form all year but he has gone up a gear in recent weeks and has now won his last four races. Peregrine Falcon was one of the slowest away in the line-up but the dog trained by John Mullins enjoyed a clear run through on the rails and stayed on strongly to finish a length behind the winner. Henlow Maiden Gold Cup winner Thirteen Bags ran on well but not well enough to steal second from the dual Derby finalist Peregrine Falcon.

The Third Semi-Final

Lenson Santi broke fairly level with the field but mustered enough early speed to get to the first bend in front. Tony Collett’s dog kept-up a good gallop along the far side and had no trouble staying on for a two and three quarter lengths victory in 27.57sec (normal). Ajlo Legalbeagle trapped slowly but picked-up nicely to the bend and went round joint second with his kennel mate Young Romeo before outrunning that rival along the back straight to take second place. Stay Loose was badly hampered and fell over consequently at the first turn but thankfully got up to complete the course.