Matt Chapman tips: Racing stars predict the England score as Cheltenham kicks off a monster day of sport | The Sun
9th December 2022

FORMER England star Michael Owen expects his old squad to crash out of the World Cup tonight. How could you Michael? You party pooper. Come on England! 

But don't worry people it's not all doom and gloom amongst racing's football aficionados. 

Owner-breeder Harry Redknapp – a man who was once long odds-on to manage England only to be denied the chance – is confident England will deny France in their mega quarter-final live on ITV. 

And fellow racing nut and super footy advisor Kia Joorabchian, the force behind Amo Racing, is also supporting England for a massive win against the current World Cup holders. 

Owen burst onto the England scene in 1998, becoming England’s youngest goalscorer at the time and banging in a worldy against Argentina when he ran from the halfway line before thumping the ball in the back of the net. 

Alas, though, when it comes to tonight’s game it appears that his head is ruling his heart, just like in that horrific song by Joel Corry, MNEK which for me comes close with YMCA and the Macarena as my most loathed piece of music. 

Owen, a Classic winning owner and the man who has built Manor House Stables into one of the top yards in the UK, told me: “At the start of the tournament I predicted France would win it, so of course the worst scenario has happened now with my prediction facing the team I want to win. 

“My heart obviously says England, but my head says 2-1 to France.” 

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I’d have loved Redknapp to have managed England as I just think it would have been fun! He might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m a fan, and a Tottenham supporter so that helps as well. 

Harry believes the opposite to Owen, and said: “England 2 France 1 – it’s coming home.” I hope you are right H. 

Joorabchian knows the players at the World Cup better than most, and is best known for being the force behind the brilliant Carlos Tevez, who was signed from Boca Juniors for £22 million. 

“It’s a very, very strong game and I’d like to have seen it as a semi-final rather than a quarter-final,” Joorabchian admitted. 

“I think both teams have a lot of strength in depth, although both have injury issues and some missing players.

"France have missed Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku but it seems not to have affected them and they look really strong. It has been the same with England with Sterling missing for the last game.” 

Boosting English dreams, Joorabchian added: “England have a great chance. They will have to be on their A game to beat the French but there is no reason why they can’t do it. 

“This is one of the best England sides I have seen for a long time. I’m loving Saka and Kane combination and you have got really good players like Henderson with experience.

"There is a lot of depth with the younger lads. I’m going for an England 2-1 win and Saka to score at least one.” 

Matt Chapman’s ITV Racing Saturday tips

Doncaster

1.50 Nusret

2.40 Heroique de Maulde

3.15 Ewood Park

Cheltenham

1.50 Simply the Betts (EW NAP)

2.25 Epatante

3.00 Weveallbeencaught

3.35 Indefatigable

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There won’t be any weather issues in Qatar, but before the footy it’s fingers crossed the Cheltenham card beats the frost this afternoon as it did yesterday.

Officials on course – led by the excellent new recruit Jon Pullin – deserve huge praise for all their efforts. 

The big race this afternoon is the AIS December Gold Cup Handicap over an extended 2m4f.

SIMPLY THE BETTS was beaten at long odds on at Ascot last time, but a match race that day with Coole Cody just didn’t suit him as he ran away with David Maxwell.

The Paul Nicholls-trained runner is a well handicapped horse now off 149 and course and distance are no issue. Maxwell is the first to admit he’s not the best jockey in the world, but he should get some cover in this race and even though he suffered that shock defeat the nine-year-old showed he still had some life in him.

I’ll chance him each-way at double digit odds. 

Elsewhere at Cheltenham, fans of Constitution Hill will hope to see the former Champion Hurdle heroine Epatante back to winning form in the Grade 2 Unibet International Hurdle. 

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Epatante was thrashed by her Nicky Henderson-handled stable companion in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, but should have a huge chance here even though she faces the improving I Like To Move It and Knappers Hill. 

What a day of sport. Come on England. Yeeehaaa!

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