Matt Chapman’s London and the South team shoots into Racing League pole position | Horse Racing News

John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)

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Sean Levey and Matt Chapman are all smiles after System’s win at Doncaster

John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)

By Andrew Dietz

The Racing League returned at a sunny Doncaster on Thursday evening with the new regional team format receiving the thumbs-up from those at the heart of the action.

ITV Racing is broadcasting the points-based competition, run over six meetings, for the first time, giving a concept that had mixed views last year to a wider audience to attract more fans to the sport.

In a notable change for the second edition of the Racing League, the number of teams has been trimmed down to seven and attached to regional areas rather than corporate brands.

Luke Harvey, who was rehearsing for ITV4’s coverage alongside London and the South’s team manager Matt Chapman more than two hours before the first race at 5.40, believes that it is a step in the right direction.

“It’s a new concept that has had its detractors, but we need new innovations in racing, so let’s give it a go,” he said. “Last year a few mistakes were made and it wasn’t particularly popular, but they’ve addressed those and we’re here from ITV – you wouldn’t normally get ITV here on a Thursday.

“Having fewer teams and regional ones will definitely help things. You’re giving more jockeys and trainers a chance – Grant Tuer has been one of the finds of the last few years and really made an impact in the Sunday Series.

“The races might not have quite filled but they’re still 99 per cent better than anything we’ve been used to midweek and they look competitive.

“On a day when the banks have told us interest rates are now 1.75 per cent, there is something positive on the horizon and I’m confident it will go well.”

John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)

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The jockeys line up before the second edition of the Racing League

The jockeys line up before the second edition of the Racing League

John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)

Harvey revealed Chapman had arrived early for a busy night and the hard work paid off instantly when Sean Levey won the opening mile handicap on System for London and the South.

“It’s a great start,” Chapman said. “Richard Hannon insisted this horse ran in the race, I wasn’t so sure whether System really saw out a mile and it just shows that you have to listen in life. That’s the problem with the other captains – they’re not listening to the big players in the game.”

London and the South’s domination continued as they registered four winners in total to top the table on 174 points from second-placed Yorkshire on 128.

Levey recorded a treble with further victories on Zabbie and Scampi before Nicola Currie got in on the act aboard Pledge Of Honor.


Racing League standings

London and the South 174 points
Yorkshire 128 points
Wales and the West 125 points
Scotland 98 points
Ireland 83 points
The North 78 points
The East 55 points


Doncaster staged one of the Racing League fixtures last year and the track’s chief executive Rachel Harwood is expecting the new format to work better.

“Last year the teams were named after things like a cocktail and weren’t regionalised, but this time you can build an alliance. I’m Team Yorkshire as I work and live in Yorkshire,” she said.

Harwood previously worked in cricket and sees similarities with innovations that have broken out from the traditional formats in that sport.

“It’s a bit like The Hundred, everything starts from a base and builds,” she said. “Part of that was about getting cricket back on terrestrial TV and there was a lot of resistance, with the old guard saying we can’t have another version. Look at it now, people are loving it.”

Among the racegoers around the paddock were Rob and Pam Doughty, who had traveled from Rotherham.

“The races have been well supported and it’s something new, so we thought why not come and have a look,” said Rob Doughty. “We’d have more preference to individuals – horses, trainers and jockeys as well the form – rather than a team, but it’s worth trying.”

Results, replays and analysis


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FIRST PUBLISHED 5:12PM, AUG 4 2022

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