London ball

London and the South cling to the top spot in the Racing League

Frankie Dettori performed his flying takedown and chanted ‘we’re top of the league’ after helping Wales and the West briefly top the table on Racing League night three at Newcastle.

As a Gosforth Park brace for The East keeps them in the hunt for third, the competition is starting to look like a two-way fight between Wales and Jamie Osborne’s West, and London and the South, led by Matt Chapman, who has clung to the top and enters Week 4 at Windsor leading by 428 points to 427.

Osborne headed northeast with what looked like a strong hand, particularly in race two, with Postmark and Tregony both bidding to follow Racing League wins at Lingfield a fortnight ago.

Postmark was the 5-2 favorite at the hands of Dettori, but he had to settle for minor honors in third behind Tregony, trained by Clive Cox, who took gold at 5-1 under Saffie Osborne.

Osborne senior decided not to play the second of his two jokers, which gives the team double points, and said afterwards: “It was almost the perfect result.

“It was a serious consideration to play a wild card, but you only have two, we used one in Doncaster the first night and there are still three weeks to go. Saffie just called me stupid for not playing it!

Although that victory was not enough to propel Wales and the West to the top of the league, victory for Dettori ridden Zaman Jemil was.

The Harry and Roger Charlton juvenile was a heavily backed 11-8 favorite in race five and Dettori gave race fans the celebration they were hoping for after guiding the colt Invincible Spirit to a resounding success.

Frankie Dettori returns to the winner’s enclosure (Ashley Iveson/PA)

Dettori said after completing his mark flight exit: “We are top of the league!

“So far, things are going well. Jamie picks my rides and tonight I had a third and a winner which is great – and we passed Matt Chapman’s team!

Wales and the West’s lead did not last long, however, with London and the South back to the slimmest of advantages after an overnight winner and several other runners picking up valuable points.

The crucial winner was provided by Menai Bridge, who scored 5-1 for trainer Charlie Hills and jockey Marco Ghiani.

Chapman said: “It was an important race for London and the South. If we got anything from tonight, I was going to be pretty surprised.

“We had Hoof It Hoof It in the two-year race but that was pulled at the time of reporting, and Cairn Gorm being out of the last one is also a big blow, so if we’re still ahead at the end of at night, I will be very, very happy.

The East remain third with 332 points after Charlie Fellowes and Kieran Shoemark paired off successfully twice on the night.

Wynter Wildes (5-1) clinched the curtain raiser, while Fresh Hope – an unlucky loser in Doncaster three weeks ago – benefited from the coolest of rides at Shoemark to justify 3-1 favoritism.

We had two winners in the evening and we are well in the game!

Delighted team boss Rupert Bell said: “From a team perspective, happy days.

“I’m delighted for Charlie because he had such bad luck in Doncaster the first night and he was really keen to bring that horse (Wynter Wildes) in.

“What a ride from Kieran on Fresh Hope. He never panicked. It was a master class.

“We had two winners in the evening and we are really in the game!”

Mick Quinn enjoyed a winner in the last race at Newcastle (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Archive)

Badri (11-2), trained by Ruth Carr – a former lead horse for sprinting great Battaash – joined Paul Mulrennan for Leonna Mayor’s Yorkshire side, now with 311 points.

The mayor said: “The greatest credit for this goes to Ruth. She texted me five or six days ago and was like, “I rode him at home, he’s doing amazingly well.” She was eager to run.

“Paul just joked so when he came in ‘even you would have won over him Ruth!’ horses graded 90 so to be able to come here and win £25,000 is fantastic.

Show Me Show Me, trained by Richard Fahey and ridden by Harrison Shaw, clinched the final for The North, managed by former Newcastle United striker Mick Quinn, who earned an award of the night after earlier playing two wildcards without great effect.

Quinn, whose team has 258 points, said: “He just kept finding and finding. Richard supported eight riders with us and we had no luck all evening. I couldn’t come here at home without a winner!

The two teams without a winner in the evening, Scotland (251) and Ireland (164), are the last two in the championship.

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