Ireland snatch Racing League title on dramatic final night

Daily News
5 Min Read

Team Ireland won three races in the final night of Racing League action at Southwell to take the title for the first time, denying defending champions Wales & The West in the process.

A double on Gulliver and Thunder Moor from jockey Ben Curtis, as well as a winner from Danny Sheehy with Tosen Wish, opened up a lead going into the last race that Wales and The West were unable to claw back on a dramatic final night.

Week Five proved profitable for Team Ireland, and despite being two points behind and having no Jokers left to play, they managed to hit the front with four races to go and were not going to be caught despite a thrilling final race.

Thunder Moor and Ben Curtis win at Southwell in the Racing League

Image: Thunder Moor and Ben Curtis win at Southwell in the Racing League

Saffie Osborne took the last race with Valsad to make it extremely close at the finish, but it was Ireland’s 816 points that defeated Wales & The West on 809 points.

Osborne again took top jockey after her success in 2022, in no small part down to a treble at Yarmouth on opening night for Wales & The West.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Team Ireland manager Kevin Blake admitted it was a remarkable turnaround in winning the 2023 Racing League on Wednesday night

Winning team manager Kevin Blake told Sky Sports Racing: “Two of the first three weeks didn’t go well and in fairness to the lads they really got behind it.

“I just can’t believe it’s been that close. I genuinely feel for Jamie [Osborne] – he’s a genuinely good manager.

“It’s taken time. Those first two years were hard, I’m competitive and it’s not easy turning up getting a hiding every week so this is particularly sweet.”

How it unfolded

London and The South threatened with a winning Joker played by Matt Chapman in the opener, with Sean Levey again proving the man in the Racing League as Commander Crouch edged out Faster Bee for Ireland.

It was Scotland who took Race Two on the night with Yaaser and Paul Mulrennan, but it was the Irish also-rans that delivered points to tie it up at the top, with Wales & The West and Ireland level on 694 points.

Sean Levey guides Commander Crouch to victory at Southwell on Monday

Image: Sean Levey guides Commander Crouch to victory at Southwell on Monday

The drama really began in the third race of the evening, as Wales team captain Jamie Osborne played a Joker in a race with two live chances.

However, as they both finished outside of the places, Ireland struck with Tosen Wish who flew down the stands rail under Danny Sheehy to give them a 27-point lead at the top with four races to go.

And it soon got even better for Blake’s Ireland team as nine-year-old Gulliver sprinted clear in the final two furlongs under Ben Curtis to further extend the lead.

The fifth race had little impact to the top of the table, with Sir Chauvelin bringing up doubles on the night for Jim Goldie and Paul Mulrennan, but it was the sixth race that proved crucial.

A victory in Race Six as Thunder Moor took 25 points under Ben Curtis and a third with Sporting Hero – both for George Boughey – gave them a whopping 40 points for the race and it proved a lead too tough to turn around.

The final Racing League standings

Image: The final Racing League standings

In the final race, Osborne did bag another winner with Valsad but a crucial fourth for Star Harbour and Team Ireland meant they came out on top by seven points.

Share this Article
Leave a comment