The July Festival at Newmarket
The July festival at Newmarket begins today and there are three Group races and a Listed contest on the card.
The race I am most interested in is the Princess of Wales's Arqana Racing Club Stakes which is a Group 2 race. The unbeaten Mashoob is the favourite for John Gosden and he does look a progressive sort. He'll be taking on the extra two furlongs (1m 4f) for the first time but the way he has shaped in his races so far together with his pedigree suggests that shouldn't be a problem. This is a big step up in class though and I think he's plenty short enough given the quality of his rivals.
Second Step had an excellent win over Telescope at this course in May so has to be feared, there is a 3lb penalty for that win however and it could make the difference.
Hillstar had an excellent win in a Group 1 at Woodbine but was subsequently well beaten at Ascot in the Harwicke Stakes.
Gospel Choir in the horse I like the most in this one. Trained by Sir Michael Stoute - who has had five winners from the last 10 renewals of this race - and ridden by Ryan Moore he is by Galileo and has proven stamina at this trip and beyond. He is lightly raced for a six year old and escapes a penalty for last years Group 2 win as it came in May. It won a Listed contest in his first race for over a year, 12 days ago, and should strip much fitter now. At 7/2 I like his chances and for me is the value in the race.
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England Battle To Take First Day
It was an intriguing first day of the Ashes and England will be pretty happy with how things have ended on day one despite losing Jos Buttler right at the end of the day.
Things did not start well and England found themselves 43/3 in the morning session. An excellent partnership of 153 between Gary Ballance and Joe Root got them out of trouble and Root went on to score a quite brilliant hundred. Half centuries from Ballance and Stokes pushed England over 300 and to a respectable score. However, the pitch is slow and it looks a bit of a struggle for the bowlers. Australia got their lines and lengths wrong too often and also dropped Root second ball.
England need to eek out as many runs they can in the morning, Ali will need to take as much of the strike as possible, and then look to make inroads into the Aussie batting line up. That may be easier said than done and although the next three days look good weather wise, I can see this match ending in a draw. The forecast for Sunday gives rain in the morning so some overs may be lost and at 9/5, the draw looks a good bet here.
Newmarket 15:10 Gospel Choir - 1 point @ 7/2
Ashes first test, England v Australia, match result draw - 1 point @ 9/5