Woollacott pulls clear

PUBLISHED: 10:00 09 June 2010 | UPDATED: 14:02 09 August 2010

THE exciting three way battle for this season s National Men's Championship may have been decided at the two meetings in Devon last weekend , writes Granville Taylor.

WRITTEN BY GRANVILLE TAYLOR

THE exciting three way battle for this season's National Men's Championship may have been decided at the two meetings in Devon last weekend (June 5th & 6th).

Although there is still one meeting left - the Torrington Farmers at Umberleigh this coming Saturday (June 12th) - Richard Woollacott's winning spree at both Cherrybrook and Bratton Down last weekend has left him with a cushion of two wins over 19- year-old Welshman John Mathias, and he now has four in hand over Jake Greenall.

All three of the top riders pulled out all the stops to maximise their efforts to take the Men's title. Woollacott's Cherrybrook stint on Saturday yielded three winners from his five rides. Oscatello and Deimne both turned in impressive performances, and this double was supplemented by a walk over for Portway Lane in the Intermediate. Kavegirl was made favourite to add to the Devon rider's tally in the maiden, but Lisa Jefford's six-year-old Golden Benefit (Jo Buck) ran on strongly to hold Kavegirl's challenge. The winner is trained by Leslie Jefford for his wife Lisa. "We bought her at Ascot as a three-year-old and she is actually in foal to Apple Tree", reported the trainer.

Although watering had taken place, the Cherrybrook going was still on the firm side for a meeting postponed from Easter Saturday. This led to a scarcity of runners, with the Restricted attracting the largest field of the day of seven. In a desperate finish, Global Party held on by a short head to thwart the late effort of Sosueme Now. Tom Chanin was partnering his fifth winner of the season on Global Party. "He is coming back from a virus which has affected us all season", said Dennis Turner, who trains the eight-year-old for his wife Marion.

Jimmy Cole's yard has been similarly afflicted, but Dutch Bill, whom Cole trains for Rob White, was able to reverse last year's Hunt race defeat by Dante's Back in the hands of his trainer, who treated the crowd to his customary whip waving salute passing the post.

Over in Wales on the same afternoon, Richard Woollacott's closest title challenger John Mathias also completed a treble at the Pembrokeshire meeting, and at the Grafton evening meeting, Jake Greenall managed one winner and two falls as he tried to close the gap with the Devon & Cornwall champion.

Sunday's fixture at Bratton Down was also played out on firm ground, and all three title contenders were in action at the North Devon track.

Richard Woollacott struck the first blow when the vastly improved Johny's Way took the Intermediate with Jake Greenall in his wake on Willie Wong. Greenall quickly pegged one back in a classy Men's Open when Eric Brook's Yorkshire gelding Gunner Jack got the better of Karley. The title hopes of John Mathias suffered a setback in this race when he could only finish third on the prolific winning mare Lady Myfanwy. The Welshman therefore remains two behind Woollacott, with Jake Greenall a further two wins behind Mathias after he had completed a double when Fernandina scored in the Restricted.

Polly Gundry has already sealed her eighth Ladies' championship, and nursing a sore back, she was happy to pass on the Ladies' Open ride on Wee Fly to Jo Buck. Only three went to post, and with outsider Bright Green well out of contention, Wee Fly ran on strongly to beat the favourite Croix de Guerre by six lengths. Owner trainer Ross Oliver, who did so well with Wee Fly's half brother Let's Fly, was saddling his eighth winner of the season and said of his mare, "she is so game and will run on any ground". Jo Buck is enjoying her best season and was recording her 11th pointing winner of the year to add to her three successes over jumps.

Darren Edwards reached the double figure mark for the year when Bobsleigh outjumped his three rivals to win the Hunt race. The winner is trained at Bampton by Sarah Sheen for owner Steve Marsh who said, "I bought him two years ago out of Stuart Howe's yard and he loves the firm ground".

Three useful looking youngsters fought out the finish of the Open Maiden with Certain Flight holding the late challenge of Flying Phento, with Merry Terry a creditable third. Five-year-old Certain Flight was bought as a yearling at Doncaster by his trainer Keith Cumings who joked, "This is third time lucky at Bratton Down". "He got a cut in the lorry and couldn't run at the Dulverton West, then walked round the paddock in the fog when his race was called off here last week".

TIV STAG RESULTS

Hunt Race 1 Bobsleigh (D Edwards); 2 Therecessionbeater (J Tickle); 3 Arctic Sky (R Hawkins); 4 ran; 2l; dist; 5m 58s.

Intermediate 1 Johny's Way (R Woollacott); 2 Willie Wong (J Greenall); 3 Dandooley (D Edwards); 5 ran; 5l; 2l; 5m 56s.

Men's Open 1 Gunner jack (J Greenall); 2 Karley (R Woollacott); 3 Lady Myfanwy (J Mathias) 5 ran; 6l; 1l; 6m 8s.

Ladies' Open 1 Wee Fly (Miss J Buck); 2 Croix de Guerre (Miss K Hobbs); 3 Bright Green (Miss A Pearn) 3 ran; 6l; 25l; 6m 0s

Restricted 1 Fernandina (J Greenall); 2 Lutteur Bleu (Miss A Goschen); 3 Oh Vlo (J Guerriero) 6 ran; 8l; dist; 5m 57s

Open Maiden 1 Certain Flight (R Hawkins); 2 Flying Phento (J Guerriero); 3 Merry Terry (R Henderson) 6 ran; 2 3/4l; 5l; 6m 1s

SPOONERS RESULTS

Hunt Race: 1 Dutch Bill (J Cole); 2 Dante's Back (T Chanin); 3 Gudlage (Miss J Buck). 3 ran; 2 1/2l; 4l; 5m 54s

Restricted 1 Global Party (T Chanin); 2 Sosueme Now (Miss J Buck); 3 Redworth Boy (Miss E Kelly) 7 ran; short head; 4l; 5m 50s.

Mixed Open 1 Oscatello (R Woollacott); 2 She Knows You Know (M Wall); 3 Smoke Trail (J Evans) 4 ran; 12l; dist; 5m 43s

Confined 1 Deimne (R Woollacott); 2 Lisheen Storm (J Tickle) 3 ran; 8l; 6m 26s only two finished

Intermediate 1 Portway Lane (R Woollacott) walked over

Open Maiden 1 Golden Benefit (Miss J Buck); 2 Kavegirl (R Woollacott); 3 Greenmoor House (L Rowe) 5 ran; 10l; 5l; 6m 6s

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