The first participants in the inaugural £1.8 million Racing League have been unveiled, with brothers Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien adding Irish interest to next summer’s U.K.-based team competition.
Created by Championship Horse Racing, Racing League is a six-week competition in which 12 teams will contest 36 races, each worth £50,000.
The first six teams have been announced, with each squad due to be made up of between two to four trainers, three jockeys, and 30 horses.
Organizers had previously hinted at having an international element, and the O’Brien brothers will represent Ireland. Northern trainers Richard Fahey and Tim Easterby will join forces, and Charlie Fellowes, Hugo Palmer, and George Scott form the first Newmarket team.
Wiltshire-based trainers Roger Charlton, Alan King, Martyn Meade, and Brian Meehan make up one of the three teams in the south. Andrew Balding and Richard Hannon form another team, while George Baker, David Menuisier, Gary Moore, and Amanda Perrett combine for the third.
CHR chief executive Jeremy Wray said: “Having trainers in the same geographical area was the logical first step. We’ve got a broad representation with teams from the north and south, and we’re really pleased to get the O’Briens as a team from Ireland.
“We will shortly confirm the remaining six teams followed by details of the jockeys chosen to represent each team.”
The races had been set to take place under hands and heels, with whips only carried for corrective and safety purposes, but that stipulation has now been scrapped for 2021.
“We made the decision because we didn’t want this to become a referendum on the whip, especially in light of the fact the BHA is reviewing the current whip rules, with the findings due to be published next year,” added Wray.
Racing League will start at Newcastle July 29, with the other five Thursday fixtures also taking place at Arc tracks and broadcast on Sky Sports Racing. The races will be 0-90 handicaps over varying distances with jockeys wearing distinguishing team colors.
The first six teams for the Racing League
1. Tim Easterby/Richard Fahey
2. Charlie Fellowes/Hugo Palmer/George Scott
3. Andrew Balding/Richard Hannon
4. George Baker/David Menuisier/Gary Moore/Amanda Perrett
5. Roger Charlton/Alan King/Martyn Meade/Brian Meehan
6. Joseph O’Brien/Donnacha O’Brien