Jamie Osborne is looking to make the most of a motivated Frankie Dettori, while also attempting to not lose too many friends in his role as the West and Wales team manager when the Racing League returns at Doncaster on Thursday night.
This year there will be 42 races over the course of the six-week contest and with only two runners per race per region allowed to compete, the team manager has the responsibility of selecting which horses and riders get the call up.
The Lambourn-based handler is in the unique position of not only managing a region, but is also one of the West and Wales’ 16 allotted trainers alongside the likes of Clive Cox and recent King George-winning duo William Muir and Chris Grassick.
“I’m in a fairly unusual position,” said Osborne. “I’m probably not going to make any friends out of this role, but I hope I don’t lose any!
“I’m there to be impartial and try to manage the squad of horses to give the West and Wales the best chance of winning the competition.”
Not only does the West and Wales team have a talented team of handlers to call upon, but they are also well stocked in the jockey department with Dettori and Osborne’s daughter Saffie amongst the seven that were drafted to the region.
He added: “I was pleased with how the draft system worked for us, we managed to get most of our first-choice riders and we’ve got a very strong team of jockeys. Ultimately who rides them will be down to the trainers and the owners of the respective horses and who they want to ride them.
“I think our horse selection is going to be significantly more important than our jockey selection because we’ve got good, strong riders all the way through.”
Despite his belief that selecting the right horses will be more important than riding arrangements, Osborne is sure that the Racing League is the perfect place for Dettori to shine and will be encouraging his colleagues to maximise the ever-green Italian’s availability over the six weeks.
“We’ve got Frankie in the squad and he’s probably in a different position now to what he was when we selected him and I hope he will get utilised quite a bit,” said Osborne.
“I will be doing my utmost to motivate him to get stuck into the competition and be involved as much as possible. I think Frankie will really enjoy it and I’m sure some of the trainers will be more than happy to use him.”
Saffie Osborne was one of the leading performers in the inaugural Racing League, finishing third in the leading jockey competition, and is the only rider on the West and Wales’ squad with an allowance. Her father thinks that 3lb could be an asset in what could be some ultra-competitive handicap contests.
“Well I can’t ram her down everyone’s throat,” quipped Osborne. “But if they want to use her and her 3lb, she’s there to be used.
“Obviously these are tight handicaps and it could be we take a view that her 3lb is going to be useful on a few of them. She’s the only claimer we’ve got and some of the trainers may see that as useful.”