Tag Archive for: Kevin Blake

Ireland grab Racing League victory in final night thriller

Ireland sealed victory in the Racing League on a dramatic final night at Southwell.

Wales & The West went into the last of six fixtures with a two-point lead, but a treble for Ireland on Wednesday night saw the team snatch the crown from the defending champions.

Tosen Wish (6-1) opened Ireland’s account in the 38th race of the William Hill-backed competition, with Danny Sheehy doing the steering on Ado McGuinness’ charge.

Ben Curtis then secured a double aboard the David O’Meara-trained Gulliver and Thunder Moor for George Boughey in the Ireland silks, with Half Nutz and Faster Bee further bolstering their position with seconds on the card.

Thunder Moor (left) sealed a treble for Ireland
Thunder Moor (left) sealed a treble for Ireland (Simon Marper/PA)

Ireland went into the final contest with a 48-point advantage, but Wales & The West manager Jamie Osborne opted to play his joker card, which doubled any points won.

Valsad, ridden by Osborne’s daughter Saffie and trained by Harry and Roger Charlton, duly obliged as the 4-1 favourite, but Star Harbour finished fourth for Ireland to give them a hard-fought victory, with seven points splitting the teams after 42 races.

Ireland team manager Kevin Blake was delighted to secure top honours, with his sides having previously failed to figure in the shake up, although he admitted he felt victory was unlikely three meetings in.

He said: “I think we were down 120 points at the halfway mark and two out of the first three weeks didn’t go well, but in fairness to the lads, they really started to get behind us.

“I just can’t believe it, but it is set up to be competitive and I genuinely feel for Jamie because he really thinks about this and is a genuinely one of the really good managers. It’s sweet to beat one of the good fellas.

“You could be Sir Alex Ferguson, but you are going to finish last if you don’t have trainers entering horses and running them, so we just lacked that in the first two years.

“Those first two years were hard, I’m competitive and it’s not easy turning up every week and getting a hiding, so this has turned out particularly sweet.

“I’m a difficult fella to get excited, but I’ve been jibby about this for the last couple of weeks and I’ve put a lot of hours into it.”

Sir Chauvelin (left) was one of two winners for Scotland
Sir Chauvelin (left) was one of two winners for Scotland (Simon Marper/PA)

Jim Goldie and Paul Mulrennan made sure Scotland finished the competition in style, recording a double with Yaaser (5-1) and Sir Chauvelin (22-1).

Mulrennan said: “This is a really good competition and we’re racing around for really good money and every race is ultra-competitive. You can see the crowd that is here tonight, everyone is enjoying it.”

The Richard Hannon-trained Commander Crouch landed the opening contest for the London & The South team, with Sean Levey steering the 5-1 shot to a neck success.

“It was impressive, but I thought he could have done a little bit better,” said Levey, with the winning team having deployed a joker card to good effect.

Commander Crouch (centre) won the opener for Sean Levey
Commander Crouch (centre) won the opener for Sean Levey (Simon Marper/PA)

“He’s still inexperienced and through greenness he hung all the way up the straight there and I was touch or go whether he was going to give it away, but he kept his head in-front.

“We were happy to come here today because albeit we had good weather last week, the ground has been coming up all ways. At the moment it is coming up more soft when he’s wanting it good and this is the first time he has got a consistent surface.

“We’re good with two-year-olds and hopefully he will keep improving”

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Wales & The West still lead the way in Racing League

Racing League regulars were again to the fore at Newcastle, as defending champions Wales & The West maintained their lead in this year’s competition – despite Ireland fighting back with an important double on the night.

Jamie Osborne and his daughter Saffie have dominated the multi-team event so far and returning to the scene of last year’s phenomenal final-night treble they joined up with another Racing League veteran as Rod Millman’s Billy Mill obliged for the second year in the row.

The five-year-old was sent off at 28-1 when scoring over course and distance last season, but was much shorter at 15-2 this time as he continued his Gosforth Park love affair in the William Hill-sponsored seven-furlong handicap.

“We didn’t have any rated in the 80s last year so he’s in a slightly lower grade of race than he won last year so was a very obvious pick and his last run was great,” Osborne – whose squad sit on the 568-pont mark – told Sky Sports Racing.

“Rod and James Millman have been absolute stars for my team and the competition. Everything they have put up for me has run well. They’ve obviously had the nursery winners and now they’ve had this winner. The competition has been great for their yard and also great for our Wales & The West team.”

Ireland have fared much better in the Racing League this season and they moved up to second in the table on 496 points thanks to a fine evening at Gosforth Park.

Kevin Blake’s team successfully played their joker in the six-furlong sprint as Johnny Levins’ Nordic Passage (8-1) earned deserved compensation having been narrowly denied at Chepstow earlier in the competition.

They then claimed the night’s most valuable contest when David O’Meara’s Alligator Alley (9-2) built on some consistent form in the hands of rising star Dylan Browne McMonagle, who also notched a double in the north east.

“It didn’t really go the way it was supposed to go as normally he is an extreme hold up horse,” said Blake.

“He obviously jumped off really well there and sat very handy and Dylan ended up further forward than he probably imagined he would be.

“He had so much confidence to wait, and wait and wait a little bit more.

“The horse is really well and ran huge last week. He’s a class horse and I know the horse well as Joseph O’Brien used to train him. He has loads of ability just not the easiest.

“David has done a fantastic job with him and I’m delighted he’s had a winner. I upset him earlier in the week for not running one he was keen to run so I’m delighted he has come here and won a big one.

“I was really hopeful that tonight would go well and look I’m greedy and it could always go better, but we’ll take how it went.”

Sir Mark Prescott’s Glenister (10-1) got the East region’s evening off to a brilliant start when taking the mile-and-a-half opener, while Simon Pearce’s Storm Catcher (9-2 joint-favourite) may have teed up a tilt at the Cambridgeshire when scoring over 10 furlongs and providing Frankie Dettori’s team with a second victory of night four.

London & The South saddled just the one runner in the one-mile handicap, but Daniel and Claire Kubler’s Helm Rock (5-1) delivered a decisive blow to earn a vital 25 points, while Yorkshire also secured maximum points when Buttercross Flyer registered a 14-1 shock in the night’s sole two-year-old event.

It was a first Racing League runner for Craig Lidster and he was thrilled to provide his home region with a vital victory in their battle with Scotland for the wooden spoon.

He said: “She’s a lovely big filly with a massive stride on her. Last time we ran her at Newmarket and the ground was far too quick for her. We know she wants a galloping track and will probably get a mile.

“Jimmy (Sullivan, jockey) has given her a brilliant ride so credit to the horse and credit to Jimmy. He used that big stride and that’s her big advantage – you might see her back here over hurdles next year!”

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