MIDDLEHAM trainer Mark Johnston hopes to have a strong hand at York’s Ebor Festival with his juvenile horses headed by Cardsharp.
The top prospect will line up in Saturday’s Gimcrack Stakes after opting not to step up in class for Sunday’s Group One Prix Morny at Deauville that was won by Unfortunately from the nearby Leyburn yard of Karl Burke.
Johnson’s son and assistant Charlie is confident good ground will see Cardsharp back to his best. “He was under strong consideration for the Prix Morny,” he said.
“He didn’t show his true running at Goodwood and at this stage we are putting it down to the soft ground. At Newmarket when he won, he hit the line very strongly whereas at Goodwood he travelled like the best horse in the race, but couldn’t quicken. Hopefully, it was because of the ground.”
The Johnston yard is looking for a boost after stable star Permian’s fatal injury in the Secretariat Stakes in Arlington, Chicago, earlier this month.
Other prospects include Dee Ex Bee who lines up in tomorrow’s Acomb Stakes over seven furlongs.
At Newmarket when he won, he hit the line very strongly whereas at Goodwood he travelled like the best horse in the race but couldn’t quicken. Hopefully, it was because of the ground.Charlie Johnston
“It looks a race full of horses like him – maiden/ novice winners who are stepping up in grade,” added Johnston.
“This was the plan for him straight away after his impressive win at Goodwood. We have been happy with him since that win and hopefully he’s good enough.”
Meanwhile, the filly Threading has been supplemented for Thursday’s Lowther Stakes at a cost of £15,000.
“It is obviously a big step up, but she was very impressive at Goodwood. Not many fillies win a Glorious Goodwood maiden by six lengths,” added Johnston.
“She is a filly we have always liked and we feel she is up to being competitive at this grade. It looks a wide open Lowther and one we feel she has a chance of running very well in.”
Jedd O’Keeffe has his fingers crossed the rain arrives in midweek ahead of More Mischief’s planned outing in the Sir Henry Cecil Galtres Stakes on Thursday.
The North Yorkshire trainer would dearly like the five-year-old to have the chance to win her second Listed contest having taken the Hoppings Stakes at Newcastle last month.