Woody Creek wore down stablemate Empire Line in the closing stages of the premier handicap at Naas on Saturday, scoring by half a length for winning owner Craig Bernick.
Woody Creek was leading home a one-two for the yard seeing off Holy Roman Emperor colt Empire Line. Ridden by Andrew Slattery, the daughter of Zoffany came to challenge in the final furlong and got up by half a length to win the six-furlong contest. Runner-up Empire Line was ridden by Mike O’Connor.
“I didn’t think that the other horse (Empire Line) would be capable of giving her a stone.
“If she came back to where she was as a two-year-old, at level weights I’ve always said she would be better than him.
“She lost her confidence badly in Leopardstown that day she got knocked over. She was quite sore after it and then she ran absolutely terrible again in Leopardstown, it was probably the wrong place to run her.
“I said to Craig (Bernick, owner) that hopefully she’d get a little bit further in time but I just wanted to get her in a habit of racing again today on a straight track where she’d have plenty of room around her.
“It’s worked anyway and it’s great for Craig who has been a great supporter. It’s nice to have a winner for him, we’ve had our trials and tribulations and haven’t had much luck so far but hopefully this is the start of something. It was a good pot.
“I always had a high opinion of her last year but at Leopardstown it just all went wrong. She actually ran okay here the last day when she was drawn on the wrong side of the track.
“Young Andy gave her a good ride and Mikey gave the other horse a good ride, he did nothing wrong. The weight told in the last 50 yards. Mikey is a bit sick but he’ll have his day someday.” Fozzy Stack.
It was a good day for the yard overall with all four runners running well. Iiex Excelsa finished third in the Listed Kilvington Stakes at Nottingham gaining black-type. The daughter of Excelebration is a winner already and is a half-sister to Scream Blue Murder, who won this race in 2013 and was also a Group 3 winner for the yard. Laurel Grove made her debut at Naas in the first race on the card and finished fourth.