Sky Sports Racing presenter and London and South manager Matt Chapman is back with the first of his Racing League blogs ahead of Thursday’s opener at Doncaster.
Jamie Osborne does his best to shake my cage – but I won’t let him!
The 2022 Racing League kicks off at Doncaster on Thursday, live on Sky Sports Racingand I’m ready as Team Manager for London and the South.
On the Racing League managers WhatsApp group, Osborne baited me on Tuesday morning. He wrote, “Matt is the only one of us who can’t lose friends through this process. He didn’t have any in the beginning!”
Rupert Bell, meanwhile, is suffering as he is in charge of coaching at Newmarket. He wrote: “You’re trying to manage 32 trainers from Newmarket…” – keep going man!
Some of you will have died against Racing League and you may have already decided this isn’t for you. It is very good. There are nearly 1,500 meetings a year and some 13,000 races.
Not all will be everyone’s cup of tea. I have no problem with those of you who don’t care, though I suspect you’ll miss the fun. But it’s up to you to decide. What I find sad are those who publicly lament the process on social media.
Moans are what social media is all about, and people do it really well. But it makes you wonder what these individuals get out of it. If you don’t like something, why the need to tell the world? I hate salad. But I don’t post this every day.
What’s the point? Rather than moan, why not just give Racing League a try? If nothing else, you will get bets each way 1-2-3 and people will come out for the fun. That’s good enough for me on its own. I get the team angle because it brings some camaraderie. But don’t let it get to you if you don’t.
You can still enjoy the race. Everyone is still trying to win. Being a team leader has been interesting. I am responsible for selecting the horses that race – basically two in each race in an ideal world – and placing my jockeys.
Jockey problems proving a headache
The runners have been a problem for my team. Laura Pearson suffered a horrific injury at Epsom the other day, while Eoin Walsh is out for two to three weeks. Danny Muscutt is banned Thursday. So I’m sending Sean Levey, Marco Ghiani and Nicola Currie to Doncaster.
They can only participate in a maximum of 20 races during the competition, so I use them early, but that’s how it is.
All three are a blast to deal with, and I’ve worked hard to insist Levey is fit!
But I have to say every one of them was helpful and a pleasure to deal with. At the time I had booked rides for Darryll Holland, and I remember taking one off from him from Willie Jarvis and the coach telling me I would never work in racing again! He was not the only one.
So I know what it can give! But for a man and a woman, my sneakers have been angelic. In fact, on Tuesday morning, Eve Johnson Houghton messaged me about which claims to check. I had noted something even though she didn’t have a runner at the game.
It was a nice touch, and I really appreciated the communication. Andrew Balding and Richard Hannon hold the key in terms of numbers to success for London and the South, but every coach is important to me, and I did my best to give a run to anyone who wanted one.
Thursday’s best bets
I’ve had people say they want to saddle this or that in the next Lingfield game. It’s good news. For Thursday evening, I have no banker. Races are not designed for budget favorites.
However, I think POWER OF MERCURIUS (5.40) is in good shape for Race 1, the first mile handicap, and Charlie Hills and Hannon have two good runners in Race 3, the Nursery (6.40) in THE TOFF and ZABBIE.
CONCIERGE SERVICE (7.10) deserves a mention for Michael Attwater in the six furlong handicap, Race Four, and as a langoustine fan, I hope for great things from the equine SCAMPI (8.10) in the 12 furlong handicap, Race Six.
Levey is a good reservation for a horse that won at Epsom last time out. I like it but it’s a tough race. I want to win this. But to all my fellow managers, I wish them the best. They will know they are in a battle. That’s all I can say.
The Racing League organizers will undoubtedly face a lot of sticks and so will I. But racing needs ideas and the human race is not made to appreciate change. Try. Enjoy.
And hopefully, somewhere along the way, a smile will be put on your face from the sheer fun of horse racing.
Watch all the Racing League races live on Sky Sports Racing.