Ireland have been given a vote of confidence by Racing League CEO Jeremy Wray ahead of the third edition of the team-based competition, which returns at Yarmouth on Thursday.
Managed by Sky Sports Racing and ITV Racing pundit Kevin Blake, the Irish team brought up the rear in the inaugural Racing League in 2021 and also took home the wooden spoon 12 months ago when they finished over 100 points adrift of the sixth-placed Yorkshire.
However, with a squad of trainers that includes the likes of George Boughey and Amy Murphy as well as the cream of Irish training talent, Wray believes an upturn in fortunes is just around the corner.
“I would probably go left field and support Ireland I think this year,” he said.
“Kevin has been bottom a few years, but he’s pretty determined to show everyone he can put a winning team together.
“They have one or two new names to their ranks which have strengthened them and of course they can obviously still call on a few names from Ireland, so I think that will be interesting.”
Wray is also looking forward to seeing which unsung name of the weighing room can forge their name into the spotlight.
Jack Mitchell claimed top jockey honours in 2021, while it was Saffie Osborne who bagged herself the prize money for leading rider last year thanks to a treble at Newcastle on the final night of the competition.
Osborne is 14-1 joint favourite to take home the £20,000 first-prize again, with one of the rising stars in the saddle Billy Loughnane – who will ride for Ireland – joining her at the head of the betting with William Hill.
“The jockey roster is as strong as ever and I’m always looking to the up-and-coming jockeys that people might not have heard of before,” said Wray.
“You just look at how Saffie Osborne has done following a few years in the Racing League and how well she is riding now. If we can throw up another one of those, it would be fantastic.”