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Coral Champion Stakes - Romford 575m - £10,000

CASTELL HENRY, a greyhound who has the distinction of having won competitions over two, four and six bends, narrowly set the standard as the Coral Champion Stakes kicked off at Romford on Friday - the local hope making all to win in 35.17sec (+20) for the 575m trip.


Trained at Cambridge by Philip Simmonds for his assistant Nathan Hunt and Amy Hughes, last year’s Monmore Puppy Derby Champion and this year’s BGBF Henlow Sprint winner, landed heat and final of a Maiden Stayers event over 575m at the Essex venue recently.


He therefore maintained an unbeaten record over the distance when blitzing to a 13.55sec sectional on his way to a fastest-of-the-night effort, albeit only narrowly as another local representative Stand Alone (35.18sec), trained by David Mullins, was just one spot slower when winning heat five.


In scoring in all-the-way style after a quickest 13.53 split, Stand Alone proved last week’s defeat of hotpot Roswell Romanov was no fluke, and the latter was beaten again in heat three, although did qualify in third despite looking in danger of going out of the competition at one stage.


The ante-post favourite missed the break and found trouble behind another Mullins-trained runner, this time John Mullins’ My Mate Max who landed a fully deserved 12-1 success in 35.40sec after a series of consistent performances this year. He led early here.


Murrys Act enjoyed a tremendous English Derby campaign for Kevin Boon, reaching the final, and the Towcester fourth continues to enjoy a fantastic 2017, the Juvenile champion making all on the back of a 13.56sec split as he stopped the clock in 35.22sec to win heat four.


The other heats were won by Rising Razor (36.27sec), who was initiating a double for his trainer David Mullins in a crowded race where just over a length covered the first five home, and Mark Wallis’s Garryglass Champ (35.80sec), who led off the last bend to win heat two.


The semi-finals of the Champion Stakes take place live on RPGTV on Friday and Mark Arkell, Romford’s deputy racing manager, said: “Overall I thought it was an excellent start to what is looking a competitive competition with some exciting racing ahead.


“The majority of the fancied dogs seemed to make it through to the semis. As ever we had some surprises along the way, but John Mullins’ My Mate Max has always run Romford well over 400m and 575m, so I’m sure there were plenty of people who took the 12-1.


“Our local entry also excelled, with David (Mullins) enjoying a double. That first heat he won with Rising Razor really was some race, with a blanket almost over the first five. The first three were all Mullins-trained runners - with John having the second.


“David’s Stand Alone has really impressed here in recent weeks, and it’s also great for Phil’s (Simmonds) kennel too with Castell Henry. He’s taken to 575m well and now goes in next week’s semis where all connections will be hoping just to make it through to another major £10,000 final here.”


Form for Friday’s semi-finals: