The Marmite-like Racing League finally gets underway at Newcastle Racecourse tonight.
It’s taken a long time to get the project off the ground, but at last the team-based competition will begin on a sunny evening in the North East.
Sponsored by William Hill and broadcast by Sky Racing, 12 teams will be battling it out for the prize money, and they will be helmed by top trainers including Andrew Baldwin, Richard Hannon, Joseph O’Brien and Tim Easterby.
A stellar list of jockeys, which features Frankie Dettori, Oisin Murphy, Hayley Turner and Hollie Doyle, will also compete for their respective ‘racing managers’ – an eclectic band that includes racing pundit Cornelius Lysaght, QPR striker Charlie Austin and footballer turned broadcaster Alan Brazil.
The project’s chief executive, Jeremy Wray, was optimistic of the benefits the Racing League would bring to the sport.
“Owners are the people who suffer most through the lack of prize-money – this idea was a way of making their assets work for them a bit better.
“There’s a huge gap between the top end of racing – Goodwood, Ascot, York and Cheltenham are all fantastic, but if you’ve got the racing on in the background every day you think some of it is very mediocre.
“It serves a purpose but there’s a lot of space in the calendar for something better and different.”
What You Need to Know About the Racing League
There will be 12 teams competing in the Racing League, each with a stable of 30 horses and their own assigned jockeys and trainers.
The team manager decides who races where, with six weeks of competition across Thursday nights to come. The races are handicaps for three-years-olds and over, with each team allowed to declare one runner in each, and distances from 5f to 1m 4f are on the racecard.
The dates are as follows:
- Racenight 1 – Newcastle (July 29)
- Racenight 2 – Doncaster (August 5)
- Racenight 3 – Lingfield (August 12)
- Racenight 4 – Windsor (August 19)
- Racenight 5 – Lingfield (August 26)
- Racenight 6 – Newcastle (September 2)
In a sort of F1 fashion, each horse earns their points based on where they finish in the race. The winner bags 25 points, the second takes 18, third claims 15 and so on, with the horse finishing in tenth clinching a solitary point for their team.
As far as prize money is concerned, each race has a total prize fund of £50,000, which means that the overall Racing League series will pay out some £1.8 million – that’s a bit handier than a rainy Tuesday at Hereford.
The overall champions will bank £150,000 in bonuses, which will be shared between jockeys, trainers and owners, while the winning-most jockey across the competition will earn an extra £25,000.
The funds have been raised through various media partnerships and commercial deals, and also by selling team names to a variety of brands and enterprises. Hence, that’s why the likes of Team eToro Racing, Team TalkSport and Team Arena Racing will be locking horns.
Whether the venture proves to be a success only time will tell, but you can’t fault all involved for trying something new to reinvigorate the sport….