ABINGDON Amblers had two men in the top three at Cirencester Park, but it was the absent Paul Fernandez who went top of the standings.

Abingdon’s Oz Ellis and Les Newell finished second and third respectively, clocking 32mins 19secs and 32.54 respectively for the 8.5km course.

But with defending champion Steve Naylor (Woodstock Harriers) opting not to run, Fernandez is now favourite for the senior and overall men’s titles.

Athletes must compete in four out of five races to qualify and Naylor had already missed the first round at Ascott-under-Wychwood, so he is now out of the running.

Fernandez has seven points from his efforts so far, with Ellis and round four-winner David Bell (Cirencester) second on ten.

So a top-three finish in the final round at Wittenham Clumps on March 4 would hand Fernandez his maiden title.

Naylor, who races in Armagh International 5K today, said: “I did not want to aggravate my Achilles, which has been a bit bruised since the South of England Championships.

“I had to have some ultrasound on it.

“Injuries aside, and assuming I’m in good shape for the Inter-counties, I will run the last round at Wittenham Clumps as I fancy running another new course.”