Fresh Hope (yellow, second right) wins for The East under a strong drive from jockey Kieran Shoemark

Racing League: Rupert Bell confident The East can challenge top two as competition heads to Windsor for week four

East manager Rupert Bell reveals his riders for Racing League week four at Windsor on Thursday, live on Sky Sports Racing.

I would like to think that the East are well placed at the halfway point to issue a serious challenge to the two teams above us, London and the South and Wales and the West, after a strong performance at Newcastle the last week.

However, I have to rely on a depleted squad in Race Week 4 at Windsor on Thursday, live on Sky Sports Racing, with just 10 riders likely instead of the maximum 14 and no reps in race five when these two strong rivals share half of the eight-rider peloton.

I don’t expect to eclipse fellow managers Jamie Osborne or Matt Chapman on the night given their strength in depth, but this is an opportunity for Newmarket jockeys Luke ‘The Sniper’ Morris and Ray Dawson to shine in the yellow jersey as they share some strong chances of form on the Thames track.

Ray joins forces with the very capable Spring flowering for Robert Eddery in the first, the William Hill Gamble Responsibly Racing League Race 22 Handicap (4.30). Robert chose this gelding out of three possible racers and was adamant that he would compete in a great race. Luke is at Robert Cowell autumn flightwho has been out of form so far this season but is well handicapped and is also a course and distance winner.

at Robert’s Augustine was only disallowed in the final strides at Chelmsford City last time out, so it should go well for Ray in the William Hill Bet Boost Racing League Race 23 Handicap (5.00), again on all five flywheels. It’s great to welcome John Butler to the party so I hope Kuwait can regain something like his winning form at Yarmouth with Luke on board in the same race.

Racing League standings after week three

Roger Varian, who was part of the winning team last year, bolsters our chances in the William Hill Pick your places Race 24 Racing League Handicap (5.30) with Specials Read, who has had wind surgery since winning a maiden from Doncaster in April. Ray circles as Luke holds a chance for final form on the course and the distance winner Gray Aramis from the court of the soft-spoken but cunning Rae Guest.

We’re not at full strength in the next race, the six furlongs William Hill Extend Your Odds Racing League Race 25 Handicap (6.00) but our only representative Dealer is the choice of two runners designated for Simon and Ed Crisford, who could join the party at exactly the right time. Luke’s mount should definitely be straighter for his return to Newmarket.

Missing Race 5 will be frustrating, but I’m sure Simon Pearce wasn’t taking the “Mickey” when he assured me Taravara has what it takes to earn us maximum points under young Dawson in the penultimate inning, the William Hill Best Odds Guaranteed Racing League Race 27 Handicap (7.00).

Cry Havoc from the East come back to the top in the opening race of the second night of the Racing League at Lingfield
Cry Havoc from the East come back to the top in the opening race of the second night of the Racing League at Lingfield

The Newmarket trainer is on holiday at Disneyland with his family but has left his very experienced mother Lydia (Pearce) in charge of a horse who was unlucky fourth in the second week of racing at Lingfield.

William Knight places his horses so well and strengthens our hand in the 10 furlong contest with Daughter of Gatecrasher, who has been in great shape this year. Very proven, she was not beaten by a long way at Ripon in her last race in a handicap, so it should go well for Luke.

Coach Ed Dunlop is recovering from knee surgery, so his haunted dream in the final, the William Hill Build Your Odds Racing League Race 28 Handicap (7.30), would be the perfect tonic. The sympathetic gray stays well and is ultra-consistent but may be our only contender as we were struggling to get a statement stage jockey able to do 8st 2lb on Rae Guest’s Addendumwho has winning course form but is 2 pounds off the handicap.

Managing the East has been a real eye opener so far and made me appreciate how much pressure trainers are under every day to make entries, get the right jockeys on their horses and liaise with owners – without talk about getting up at dawn to train their horses!

At this stage of the competition, consistency is just as important as winners and tactics are starting to play a bigger role, which is why I’m saving last week’s star rider Kieran Shoemark for the final round at Newcastle on the 15th. september.

Ranking of Racing League jockeys after week three.
Ranking of Racing League jockeys after week three.

Kieran has produced what must be the run of the series so far on Fresh Hope at Newcastle, cutting ground to win the seven furlongs handicap for Charlie Fellowes, but is now down to just eight of his 20 allowed runs. I’m also hoping to take on last year’s champion jockey Jack Mitchell in the Gosforth Park final as he also rides exceptionally well on the Tapeta track.

Hayley Turner is the undisputed queen of Southwell, so I’m counting on her to take center stage during Race Week 5 at the Nottinghamshire venue next week, alongside two talented young drivers, Grace McEntee and Cameron Noble .

After winning the first Racing League with Team talkSPORT last year, the pressure is mounting. I have to admit, I felt like the racing version of Pep Guardiola back then. As in football, it’s about getting the best out of your players and being united as a team – something Steven Gerrard is struggling to achieve at my beloved Aston Villa at the moment. Hopefully we both get a winning run in the weeks to come!

Rupert Bell was talking to Simon Mapletoft of Sky Sports Racing.

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