No change at the top as Racing League rolls on

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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