Yorkshire’s Leonna Mayor hopes to leave Yarmouth on Thursday in the Racing League with the same buzz as when riding her maiden winner there as an apprentice…
It’s hard to believe it will be 13 years next week since I celebrated my first-ever win as a jockey at Yarmouth, the scene of the first round of this year’s Racing League, live on Sky Sports Racing.
Drawing clear of the field on 10-1 shot Colinca’s Lad for trainer Peter Charalambous in a 7f handicap was an amazing buzz and I’m hoping I can relive the emotion on Thursday evening.
Getting off to a flying start will be no easy task, however. This is very much an away fixture for Team Yorkshire but I’m happy with my trainers and jockeys and the line-up we go into battle with at the seaside.
My star signing must be Malton trainer Brian Ellison, who I’m relying on to put some vital points on the board on Thursday. Brian has a big stable and the additional firepower he gives us can only help us build on last year’s sixth-place finish.
With the strength in depth that Tim Easterby and Karl Burke give us, along with 15 other trainers, how can I not be confident of a successful six weeks, especially when we head closer to home at Newcastle and Southwell?
It’s great to have the services of top Newmarket trainer James Tate, too. James may not be based in our county but is steeped in Yorkshire racing tradition. His father Tom Tate still trains there and uncle Michael Dickinson sent out the first five in the Gold Cup from Harewood back in the 80s.
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I’m also chuffed to welcome the hard-working Michael Herrington to my squad. He’s better placed than most of my trainers to send runners to Yarmouth from his North Lincolnshire base and was itching to get involved.
I’ll be relying on his three runners to help us bag a few away points. Michael has a strong working relationship with jockey Tom Eaves, who is another new addition to our ranks.
They became friends when they rode for the late Mary Reveley a few decades ago and have formed a fearsome partnership around the northern tracks. Tom is a Group 1 winner in his own right and brings much-needed experience to my team of jockeys, bolstered also by Tim Easterby’s long-standing go-to man David Allan and PJ McDonald. He’s having the time of his life with King George contender Pyledriver and I can’t wait for him to join us for the later rounds.
Brian Ellison’s stable jockey Ben Robinson could be the man to play a starring role for us on Thursday. He’s my wild card with five good rides including boss Brian Ellison’s CALLIANASSA in the opening sprint nursery (5.30).
She showed a liking for the forecast soft ground at York earlier this month and will be joined in the line-up by James Tate’s DESERT MASTER who has been placed in soft and heavy conditions and looks a strong chance for Tom Eaves.
Excited about Northern’s chances
Ben and Brian represent us again in the 6.00 sprint handicap with NORTHERN SPIRIT, who arrives at Yarmouth with a 6lb penalty for winning on soft ground at Nottingham. He’s actually 1lb well in according to his revised rating so I’m excited about his chances.
He’ll race with Michael Herrington’s RATHBONE, an older horse who has been there and done it but is well handicapped on a mark some 10lb lower than the one he won off at Hamilton a year ago. Tom’s won on him three times so knows exactly how to get the best tune out of him.
That same trainer-jockey combination is behind ALEXANDER JAMES in the 1m handicap at 6.30. He only won a seller at Beverley last time for Mick Appleby so needs to step up but looks like the sort of horse Michael could do well with and has soft ground form in France.
At a bigger price will be Mick and David Easterby’s CAROLUS MAGNUS but he could be the dark horse in the line-up. David was intent on sending him to York this weekend but thought this looked like a better opportunity for a new recruit from the powerful Andrew Balding ranks.
As a former female jockey, I’m delighted to welcome Josephine Gordon to my team and to give her a winning chance on RAMIRO for Brian Ellison in the 7f handicap at 7.00. Ben Robinson can’t do 8st 6lb so Josie steps in for a favourite’s chance on a gelding who won nicely at Ayr the other day.
Tim Easterby was such a brilliant team player last year and is right behind me once again with a leading contender in the 7.30, a 5f dash. COUNT D’ORSAY has bounced back to form with a vengeance lately with wins at Hamilton and Chester and has a great chance of completing the hat-trick under Ben Robinson.
But Tim’s horse isn’t my only strong chance in that race, because I’m also lucky to have GOOD EARTH bringing winning form to the race for that duo of Herrington and Eaves.
I have only one runner in the staying handicap at 8.00 – Brian Ellison’s ONESMOOTHOPERATOR – but one chance may be all I need in the closing £100,000 feature with James Tate’s REGAL EMPIRE.
James had three possible runners for this race but the cut in the ground and a light weight suggest to me that Josie Gordon can look forward to another big performance. It feels like we’re a long way from home but it’s great to have several strong winning chances on the opening day.
All my trainers and jockeys are pumped up for the six rounds ahead of us and are a pleasure to work with. I just hope we can send out a strong message from the get-go to silence the banter I’m hearing from our opposition.
Watch every contest on Race Week 1 of the Racing League from Yarmouth live on Sky Sports Racing on Thursday 27th July.