AFTER a long old 18 months, the Racing League finally burst out the gates at Newcastle last night.
The first ever meeting of the new team competition aims to bring in a new audience to the sport as well as offering up a bumper £2 million throughout the six weeks.
And even with eyes on Glorious Goodwood and the Galway Festival, the first card was still the talk of the Toon.
Fresh team colours brought something new as did the addition of David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd to the Sky Sports team.
As always it will have its naysayers, but try telling that to the connections who pocketed over £25,000 for taking the spoils.
Take the likes of 77-rated Saluti who struck in the opener for Team Arena – he’d be lucky to race for a fifth of that pot elsewhere.
The crowd of 1,500 might look disappointing on paper, but that’s double what a normal fixture at the track would welcome.
With a bit of wind in its sails, expect that number to increase at the likes of Windsor and Doncaster next week.
The second heat over six furlongs again went to the north, but this time Team eToro as Strike Red won for Richard Fahey.
And we know for sure the weighing room is behind the Racing League. Winning jockey Paddy Mathers managed a smile coming back into the winners’ enclosure – and that takes some doing!
Fellow rider Nicola Currie said: “There’s a real buzz about the place and there’s actually an atmosphere!
“It was quite exciting driving here today. It looks a bit different and it actually feels a bit different too.”
The third race went the way of Charlie Austin’s Goat Racing as Echo Beach struck at 5-1 under Laura Pearson.
She said: “We’ve definitely got the coolest team haven’t we? I love these colours and having the name on your back.
“And even if you don’t think you’re on the winner, you can get valuable points all the way down and that’s key.”
Newcastle chief David Williamson said: “I think we’ve had about 1,500 in and a lot of those are kids which is great.
“I hope it goes well as the final is back here and I hope it goes down to the wire.”
After the opening six races pre-competition favourites Newmarket Red ended up on top overall with 85 points.
The team made up of the Gosdens, Robert Cowell, Sir Mark Prescott and David Simcock didn’t win a race all night but were only out of the top three once.
Team talkSPORT were only seven points behind in second, with Team RaceHorse Lotto third on 63.
Remulate Racing need to up their game in week two and are rooted to the bottom of the league on just 21 points, four off Team ODDSbible.
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