Gimcrack preview: Mark Johnston has Cardsharp in 'good shape'

Fri 25 Aug 2017

By staff

Connections of Cardsharp are anticipating an improved effort on better ground in the Al Basti Equiworld Gimcrack Stakes at York on Saturday.

Mark Johnston's charge won the July Stakes at Newmarket on his penultimate start but fell just short when shouldering a 3lb penalty and finishing third in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood.

Cardsharp must concede the same amount to each of his 11 rivals in this Group Two heat, but Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father, felt the ground rather than the penalty may have been his undoing in Sussex.

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 and he will show his best on Saturday. He has to carry a penalty again but horses who have a penalty have a good record in the race and he goes there in good shape."

The William Haggas-trained Headway was only sixth in the Richmond, but Harry Herbert, racing manager for owners the Royal Ascot Racing Club, also felt the Goodwood ground took its toll.

He said: "It was just a disaster at Goodwood. The ground was hopeless for him and he raced out on his own. It couldn't have gone any worse for him.

"The horse is much better than that and with the better ground here at York, he should be competitive.

"William is pleased with him and his form is solid. He has done well physically and we expect him to run a big race. He has got a good spot in the middle so I don't think the draw will be a problem."

Frozen Angel is taking a drop back in level after finishing fifth in the Group One Phoenix Stakes on his most recent outing. Trainer Tom Dascombe opted to stick to Pattern company rather than tackle an alternative option in a sales race earlier in the week.

Colin Gorman, Dascombe's assistant, said: "His form is rock-solid. We've not had the run of the green on our side - we always feel a bit unlucky sometimes and we're coming here with a big shout on Saturday. It wasn't a tough call with a horse like him. We've gone for the prestige rather than the money."

Tim Easterby has already secured one big juvenile prize this week, with Wells Farhh Go winning the Acomb Stakes, and he looks to Staxton to give him a big-race double.

He said: "He's a really nice horse. We knew him and Wells Farhh Go were up with our best. He defied a penalty last time out and I've been surprised at how many have tried and failed to do that. Not many have managed it, but he has. He won't be out of place, that's for sure."

Stormbringer was a winner at Redcar last time and trainer Kevin Ryan, who is seeking a fourth win in the race, admits this is a steep hike in company. He said: "He's in great form and ready to run. We think a lot of him, but obviously this is a big step up from Redcar to the Gimcrack. It was nothing but a lone gallop when he won last time, so it will be interesting to see how he gets on."

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