ROBERT Smerdon has secured Victoria’s premier jumps training title for the second year in a row.
Westsouthwest clinched the JJ Houlahan Jumps Championship for Smerdon by taking out the $100,000 Australian Hurdle, 3400m, at Sandown Lakeside yesterday.
Smerdon accumulated the most points in 18 feature hurdle and steeplechase events run since the start of the jumps season in March.
He also won with Brungle Cry in the Galleywood Hurdle at the Warrnambool May Carnival, Black And Bent in the Jack Dow Memorial Hurdle and Grand National Hurdle at Sandown, and Kirribilli Gold in the Great Southern Steeplechase at Sandown.
The Caulfield/Ballarat-based Smerdon finished ahead of Warrnambool’s Ciaron Maher, with New Zealander John Wheeler placing third.
Darren Weir won two races in the series with last year’s JJ Houlahan championship holder Gotta Take Care in the Yalumba Classic Hurdle at Oakbank and Brendan Drechsler Hurdle at Bendigo.
Westsouthwest ($2.45) yesterday upset the short-priced favourite Montgomery ($1.80 favourite).
Placed in the South Australian and Queensland Derbies, the five-year-old turned the tables on Montgomery, which had taken the honours by five lengths in a previous clash.
Smerdon described the success as a “bonus” win.
“He didn’t come onto the scene until late,” Smerdon said. “It’s been a great bonus for him. We think a lot of him going forward, but I didn’t think we could turn the tables on Montgomery even though he had circumstances in our favour,” he said.
Westsouthwest also gave Smerdon his third win in The Australian Hurdle, having saluted with Kirribilli Gold last year and Black And Bent in 2010.
Westsouthwest has had four jumps starts, having won his maiden hurdle at Casterton on July 7, and being placed twice.
The Australian Hurdle completed a jumps double for Smerdon.
Imported stayer Arch Fire ($1.50 favourite)had to use all his flat ability to take out the $35,000 Rookie Jumpers Series Final, 3400m.
US bred and English raced, Arch Fire hit the racetrack for Smerdon this last year.
He has won twice on the flat for Smerdon and is unbeaten in two jumps runs.
DARREN Weir kept his city winning run going with roughie Champagne Esprit ($31) over 1200m, yesterday.
He has nine Melbourne metropolitan wins this season to lead the trainers’ premiership from Peter Moody by just one.