Cardsharp shines at Newmarket

Cardsharp (left) and James Doyle win the Arqana July Stakes

The Mark Johnston-trained Cardsharp claimed top honours in the Group Two Arqana July Stakes at Newmarket.

James Tate's Invincible Army was a well-backed 3-1 favourite, marginally ahead of Richard Spencer's Coventry Stakes hero Rajasinghe (100-30) in the betting.

Invincible Army was always towards the front end along with the Aidan O'Brien-trained U S Navy Flag, but neither could fend off the charge of 8-1 shot Cardsharp down the centre of the track.

U S Navy Flag did his best to make a race of it, but Johnston's charge passed the post a length and three-quarters to the good in the hands of James Doyle.

Rajasinghe was under pressure from the halfway stage, but boxed on well and beat Invincible Army to third place.

Doyle said: "He showed his well-being before the race. He was a bit of a handful.

"I rode him in the Norfolk at Ascot and he ran a hell of a race. The American horse there on the lead kept edging left and bumped him a bit.

"It took a while to get him organised and he finished really well. I just thought back up to six would be ideal and he's shown that."

Johnston said: "We've been umming and ahhing and chopped and changed with him. Watching him at Beverley he showed so much speed he just looked like he was tiring at the end.

"He was going to go for the Coventry then we switched him to the Norfolk and clearly we were wrong in doing that. As we've seen today he is better for the six furlongs and he was certainly not stopping at the end.

"That looked perfect despite a few antics beforehand. When I was putting the jockey on I thought what a tall rangy horse this is and that he doesn't look like a sprinter. We will get him home and have a think about it."

Kevin Buckley, Coolmore's UK representative, said of U S Navy Flag said: "He is laid back and he travelled over really well. We were very happy with that run.

"Ryan Moore planned to jump out and make plenty of use with him. He lost an off-fore shoe and we are not making excuses, that is just a fact of what happened.

"He only won his maiden 12 days ago so you can see he is a durable animal. Hopefully his full-sister Roly Poly can keep the good run up for the family tomorrow (in the Falmouth Stakes)."

Coventry Stakes winner Rajasinghe lost his unbeaten record but his trainer Richard Spencer was still pleased with the run.

He said: "We were disappointed that he didn't win but he put up a brave effort to finish third.

"He is going to get further, as I've said all along, and the ultimate aim is a mile in next year's Guineas.

"We will probably step him up next time. Whether we go to Goodwood for a potential go at the Vintage Stakes, we will see how he is, but the owner bought him to enjoy, not stand in his box."


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