With just two points separating their teams heading into the final round of the Racing League at Southwell on Wednesday, Sky Sports Racing speaks to Wales & Wests manager Jimmy Osborne and Ireland boss Kevin Blake as they go head-to-head.
After five rounds, are you surprised by how close the title race is?
Osborne: “I wish we had gone into the final night with a greater advantage but I am confident we can finish the job. The trainers and riders have bought into the idea again this year and that has been reflected in our results.
“I have to give Kevin and the Irish team a lot of credit for pulling off a run like this. Matt Chapman is probably too far behind to make it so I think he would like to see us beaten after snatching victory from the London & South team’s grasp last year.”
Blake: “Jimmy’s team were favorites from the start and he is in the driving seat, but only just. Who would have thought we would be just two points behind them going into the final night? I would have gladly finished third at the start of the competition, I knew we were in good shape but what we achieved was beyond “My expectations.”
With so much at stake, how do you see events unfolding?
Osborne“Looking at the final announcements, I expect Ireland to take an early lead but I hope we have enough steam in the latter half of the card to retain our title. It’s tougher than I thought but we’ve got enough quality to make it happen. Get over the line.
“I still have a couple of runners to play, and I have three races in mind, but I was denied the chance in the race I really wanted to take advantage of, which was the 7.45. The rules say you need a minimum of 12 runners but Ireland needs a minimum of 12 runners.” “It is clear that the decision to announce only one field, which leaves us with 11 fields, is a strategic matter.”
Blake: “I’m fully aware that Jimmy still has two runners to play, which could earn him double points, and that could be the deciding factor. Jimmy probably thinks I’ve deliberately ruined his plans but the only reason I did it” I don’t run two in 7.45 is that I was let down near the announcement time.
“I’m already running out of jokes but I’ve got enough confidence in my team to hope we can win it. Jamie is putting a brave face on it and giving the impression he’s got it all under control, but I suspect his knees will be a bit wobbly.”
Who are the contestants you have the greatest hopes for?
Osborne: “Zain nights And Blazion five Both are up to 7.45 on the back of good wins. My daughter Saffy rides Harry and Roger Charlton’s horse and Trevor Whelan teams up with Roger Teal on the Blazion Five.
“Saffie and the Charltons should also have a strong chance in the final furlong at 8.45, a £100,000 handicap over one and a half miles with Valsad. “He’s a new horse who has just failed to win a decent race at Newbury, so his performance could be decisive.”
Blake: “Jonny Levens won’t be a household name in Ireland, but he is really interested in the concept of Racing League and could star at Southwell. Jonny manages North corridor In 7.15, a well-handicapped horse won a Racing League race at Newcastle.
“David O’Meara has been pushing me away for a week about running Gulliver At 7.15. He is on a long losing streak but is seriously handicapped and would not have found himself in 0-80 many times during his distinguished career. “He is a great ally of the Nordic Passage.”
Which of your knights do you expect to star?
Osborne: “I made the decision to leave Saffie (Osborne) out of the Wolverhampton team last week so she can finish a good book of rides at Southwell. She is about to come home dry and become champion jockey again and hopefully she will play a big role in the final result.
“Trevor Whelan has some strong prospects too, including the Blazeon Five. He has been an important member of the team and like everyone in Wales and the Western team he was willing to fall on his sword for this cause.”
Blake: “Danny Sheehy should have a great chance against Ado McGuinness Tucson’s desire In the mile race at 6.45. He ran strongly second at Newcastle and is one of three strong runs for our 3lb claimant. With Dylan Brown McMonagle on the outside, this is a great showcase for Danny’s talent.
“I’m also pleased to be able to call up Danny Muscott for the first time. He’s been really looking forward to getting involved and has six chances, including Nordic Passage for Johnny. He’s kept in touch with the competition week in and week out and could be an ace at the track he rides very effectively. “
Who’s Claims to Glory Season 3 seems to be a huge success.
Osborne: “It’s worked out well for us. It’s not always easy to get your best horses into the races you want but here we are in pole position to win it again. I’m hoping to see an enthusiastic crowd at Southwell to help bring the curtain down in style.”
Blake:”I loved every minute of it and we have a fair path to fight to the end. The local coaches who have come into the Irish team this season have excelled and the Irish coaches who have been more involved have been a big key to our success as well.”
Jimmy Osborne and Kevin Blake were speaking to Sky Sports Racing’s Simon Mapletoft.
Watch every contest in Round 6 of the Southwell Racing League live on Sky Sports Racing on Wednesday 13 September.