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Philip Simmonds' Castell Henry banked the £12,500 first-prize for connections and booked his place in the history books by winning the Ladbrokes Puppy Derby. It is not only connections that are celebrating this marvellous victory, but also British Breeding. This is the top puppy competition in the calendar and it just goes to prove that the Brits may be low on numbers, but they are very much high on quality.


Castell Henry won this very much on merit, he suffered crowding on the run to the corner and then again at the first-bend. This dogs determined though and he raced in to the lead around the second-bend and he showed terrific middle-pace to open up a nice lead. Droopys Astorish just could not claw back the deficit and Castell Henry powered home to win by 2 and 3/4 lengths over Droopys Astorish, in 28.30 (-10).


This race delivers the sport’s future stars and 2016 will be no different. Runner-up Droopys Astorish will have a big future that is for sure. Ballymac Lyster and Oscar Whiskey are super exciting and they will have their big moments in the coming months. Bramble Magpie was KO'd at the opening-bend, he was dazed, shaken but I'm delighted to report that this super talented youngster is ok. Droopys Elite was sadly withdrawn on the day of the race, but she is another that looks to have a massive future.


Philip Simmonds On Castell Henry


“We held him back for the BAGS Track Championship and I think that is paying dividends. To win the Puppy Derby is amazing, we rated him highly and he's progressing all the time. He went sub 24.00 at Romford in January, not many dogs can do that and he sees out 480m strongly. I think in time he will get further. He's a big dog and one of his best attributes is that burst of early-pace and his determination to win. I'm such a lucky man to have won this race and I'm delighted for his owners. I said to Nathan Hunt and Amy Davies with the prize money and if you sold him, you'd have enough money to put a deposit down on a house. They both said we will keep the dog. It's amazing to see such enthusiasm from young people in this sport. They arrived here with Castell Henry when he was 14 weeks of age, Nathan said it was his dream to work with dogs, I told him if he ever got bored of engineering to give me a shout and he could follow his dream. They moved here and the rest is history. I'm so pleased for them, I really am and they've got a cracking greyhound with a big future. Can I just say how pleased I was to learn Bramble Magpie is ok, after that tumble, he's a smart puppy and you never want to win a race a dogs been injured in.” 


Phillip you talk about the future what are your plans with Castell Henry?


“The Derby, the Puppy Derby is placed perfectly in the calendar for you to run in that and that prepare properly for the Derby. We will look at doing everything we can to give him his best chance at the Derby. I think he's a chance of doing very well in it, he likes Wimbledon and the dogs getting better all the time”.


You reared Salad Dodger who won the Derby and now you've reared Castell Henry to this success, what is your secret?


“From a young age I'd have an affinity with young animals, I used to skip school to help rear lambs and calves. I love it and we set out to do everything we can to give them the best start. Too many people rear in pens and look at it from a commercial point of view. We look to give them freedom and lots of it, we have access to around 200 acres and right up till they are eight months of age we give it them. At eight months we put them in pens because they are too fast then for their bone structure. We don't put a lead on them until they are around ten months of age, you want them half wild but ok with humans. Take Castell Henry he's got a spark in his belly, without being a prat and that is what you want. Freedom and top feeding are the two most important elements for us”.


You are a big supporter of British Breeding, what litters have you got for us to look out for?


“We have a lot but one mating I'm excited about is Swift Hoffman - Genie, I'm excited about her in the breeding paddocks, she was a great bitch for us and Swift Hoffman was just a superstar. Fingers crossed you are writing about these in time to come”.




Talking of the Derby, Barricane Bullet was a very unlucky loser in his semi-final, he came out on the supporting card and wowed fans, he won by 6 lengths, in 28.27 (-20). I'm sure connections are thinking what if, but he will now be prepared for a crack at the Derby.

Romany Rouge last year had an unbelievable amount of seconds but not this year, he put in a scintillating display to win his fifth race on the spin and stopped the clock in 41.34 (-60). It will be exciting to follow him and see how long he can keep this winning sequence going, on this evidence it will take something very special to beat him.


In what was arguably the sprint race so far in 2016, Walshes Hill put in majestic performance to show the young pretender Mac Foiche that there is very much still life in the old dog yet, Walshes Hill beat him 2 lengths, in 15.24 (-10). Mac Foiche has bags of potential, he's just turned two-years-of-age, while Walshes Hill is approaching four. This was Walshes Hill at his sublime best and he looks in no mood to slow down any time soon.  


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