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Racing League: Newmarket Red lead the way from team talkSPORT after thrilling competition opener at Newcastle

Newmarket Red lead team talkSPORT by seven points after raceday one of the ground-breaking new Racing League; opening night sees six different winning teams in ultra-competitive handicaps; watch raceday two at Doncaster live on Sky Sports Racing on Thursday, August 5

Paul Mulrennan rides Saluti to victory for Team Arena in the first race of the Racing League
Image: Team Arena's Saluti beats Faustus of Newmarket Red in the Racing League at Newcastle

Newmarket Red proved that every point counts in the new Racing League as they shot to the top despite not registering a winner on the opening night at Newcastle.

The ground-breaking team-based competition kicked off in ultra-competitive style with six different teams celebrating victory on Thursday.

The six-race card was the first of six meetings which make up the inaugural running of the £1.8m competition, with a total of 12 teams taking part and every race worth £50,000 in prize money.

Racing League standings after week one at Newcastle
Image: Racing League standings after week one at Newcastle

Pre-competition favourites Newmarket Red, consisting of trainers Robert Cowell, John and Thady Gosden, Sir Mark Prescott and David Simcock, had three second-placed horses and two thirds as they collected 85 points from a possible 150.

    They are seven points clear of team talkSPORT, who won race four with hot favourite Bonneval for trainer James Fanshawe and jockey Jack Mitchell.

    Team Racehorse Lotto, in their distinctive pink colours, shot up to third in the overall table with victory in race six from William Knight's Pearl Beach.

    Ridden by Daniel Muscutt, Pearl Beach had been selected by the team after a late coin-toss between Knight and fellow trainer George Boughey.

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    Laura Pearson rides Echo Beach to victory in the Racing League for Goat Racing
    Image: Laura Pearson rides Echo Beach to victory for Goat Racing

    Teams Goat Racing, eToro Racing, ThoroughBid and Team Arena also enjoyed winners on the night, collecting the maximum score of 25 points.

    Broadcaster Rupert Bell, who manages Team talkSPORT along with Alan Brazil, said: "There does seem to be quite a nice, friendly feeling about it, with all the teams doing their bit.

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    David 'Bumble' Lloyd went to check out the Racing League entertainment at Newcastle but there was no Neil Diamond on offer!

    "I think it does feel right. It's a long haul, but if the racing can stay as competitive as it is at the moment, that's great.

    "You've guaranteed 10 to 12 runner fields and surely the racecourses want that and the betting industry wants that."

    The opening race went to 15-2 chance Saluti for Team Arena (49 points overall), trained by Paul Midgley and ridden by Paul Mulrennan.

    "At the end of the day, there's a lot of money being pumped into our sport, which can't be anything but good," said the jockey.

    Pearl Beach wins for Racehorse Lotto and Danny Muscutt
    Image: Pearl Beach wins for Racehorse Lotto and Danny Muscutt

    "I know there's a few people unhappy they've not been able to compete this year, but it might be their time next year. It could be a different trainer or jockey that gets a chance.

    "There's a real good buzz in the weighing room tonight. All the teams and everything just makes it a bit different - it's not your usual Thursday night at Newcastle.

    "You look at this horse. In his last three races, he's been racing for buttons and tonight he's come here and won £25,000."

    Strike Red claimed top honours in the second race for eToro Racing (53 points). The 7-1 shot is trained by Richard Fahey and was ridden by Paddy Mathers.

    eToro Racing's Paddy Mathers
    Image: eToro Racing's Paddy Mathers enjoyed victory on Strike Red

    The eToro Racing team is managed by William Easterby, son of trainer Tim, who also has several horses in the squad.

    Easterby said: "Richard thought Strike Red had a good chance after he won last time out.

    "It's been really easy working with Richard and Robin (O'Ryan, Fahey's assistant), but we'll only be cheering on their horses on a Thursday night!

    "I think it's a fantastic idea. The owners are really enjoying the day and the prize money is great.

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    "I think it's great for the sport to get some publicity and to try to get more people into racing."

    Echo Red was a 5-1 winner for trainer Hugo Palmer, jockey Laura Pearson and the Goat Racing team (45 points).

    Hayley Turner, no stranger to team competitions as a regular participant in Ascot's Shergar Cup, got her name on the scoreboard by steering Andrew Balding's Roscioli (28-1) to a narrow victory for Team ThoroughBid (47 points).

    The Racing League moves south to Doncaster next Thursday, August 5, with six more races live on Sky Sports Racing.

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