WORLD CUP FEVER HITS NEWBURY RACECOURSE by Lewis Lesbirel

The FIFA World Cup kicks off this afternoon and to mark the occasion, here are seven horses and jockeys to follow at today’s meeting who have a connection to participating countries at the world’s greatest football tournament.

Wise Counsel (1.20) – Although this well-bred two-year-old may not have the most continental of names, there is no doubting the Spanish blood running through his veins. An Invincible Spirit colt out of the Spanish dam Noozhah makes him a half-brother to the talented Spanish raider Noozhoh Canarias, who finished a creditable sixth in both the 2000 Guineas and July Cup in 2014. Certainly, one to watch on debut here.

Daisy Chain (1.50) – This expensive filly set connections back a whopping 175,000 euros and is a preciously-bred daughter of the Champion Australian sire Fastnet Rock. No disrespect to the Aussie’s, but she probably has a better chance of landing this race than the national team have of winning the World Cup.

Scottish Jig (2.20) – Unfortunately, the only people doing a Scottish Jig in the vicinity will be those connected with this filly were she to oblige, as Scotland failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup after an agonising 2-2 draw with Slovenia in their last group game. The 3-0 defeat to England earlier on in qualification didn’t help either…

Keepers Choice (3.30) – This horse, trained locally by Denis Coakley, arguably bears the most obvious of World Cup links. England’s number one is still not confirmed as the Three Lion’s first group game approaches, although manager Gareth Southgate seems to have most confidence in Jordan Pickford of the three goalkeepers in the squad. In the next race we also have N Over J (4.00), so of the three keepers, will it be the once-capped Nick Pope over Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland?

Gracious George (5.10) – There won’t be a more popular winner than this patriotically named eight-year-old, who will fly the flag for England in the closing race on our card. A footballer by the name of George Cohen was also in our last world cup winning team – Is this a sign? Is it coming home? Are we winning the World Cup?

Gerald Mosse – France – This experienced jockey may have won the Melbourne Cup in 2010 aboard Americain, but he’s flying the flag for his home country of France tomorrow with a book of four rides, the best of which could well be Mountain Peak in the sixth race on the card.

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