Ireland still in the hunt following night four at Newcastle
Ireland kept its Racing League dreams alive with an impressive 146-point haul in week four of the competition at Newcastle.
Kevin Blake’s team has moved up to second in the standings with an overall tally of 496 points, which leaves them within striking distance of Wales & The West (568 points) with two weeks remaining.
Blake opted to play his first joker of the series in the six-furlong handicap, a decision that duly paid off as the Johnny Levins-trained Nordic Passage came home in front under Dylan Browne McMonagle.
Alligator Alley completed a double for Ireland and McMonagle in the concluding £100,000 sprint, with David O’Meara’s charge setting a five-furlong track record of 57.12s.
Blake said: “I was hoping that tonight would be a big night for us. I am greedy, so you always think that it could have gone better, but we had at least one horse in each race show up really well. To have two winners is fantastic, especially playing a joker for one of them.
“I would not have been hiding my confidence coming here and could not believe the price [8/1] Nordic Passage was. I am not trying to be smart, but he was so well-in after finishing second last week – the Irish handicapper gave him 7lb but he got to run here off his old mark. I thought the market was a bit disrespectful of him. Johnny has them booming. He thinks very deeply about his horses. When he says the horse is ‘bouncing’, you would be an eejit not to listen.
“Alligator Alley looked to have a huge form chance on his run at York last week. I did not dream that he would be as forward as he was – he jumped too well – but Dylan was confident enough to sit and sit. He is a class horse and I know him well from when Joseph O’Brien had him. He has loads of ability but is not the easiest and David has done a fantastic job with him. I am pleased David has had a winner because I upset him in the week by not running one that he was really keen to run, so I am delighted he has won a big one!”
Nordic Passage wins for Team Ireland (credit: Grossick Racing Photography)