Cardsharp takes some scalps in landing July Stakes
Cardsharp dented a couple of lofty reputations and provided jockey James Doyle with some respite by claiming victory in the Arqana July Stakes at Newmarket.
Despite having run well to finish third in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, Mark Johnston's colt was an 8-1 shot for this Group Two test, with the well-backed Invincible Army the narrow favourite ahead of Coventry Stakes winner Rajasinghe.
Invincible Army raced on the speed for much of the six-furlong journey, along with U S Navy Flag, but Cardsharp powered up the middle of the track to beat the latter by a length and three-quarters.
Doyle was in the news earlier in the afternoon after being handed a 15-day suspension by the British Horseracing Authority.
The leading jockey was referred to the ruling body after using his whip above the permitted level aboard runner-up Barney Roy in last Saturday's Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.
As it was his fifth offence within a six-month period, he will sit out 15 days, five of which will be deferred for 42 days.
Doyle told ITV Racing: "The rules are very fair. They are in place for a reason and I think we have the best whip rules.
"I just struggled a bit and got a couple of silly bans when I got back from Australia. The whip rules are a bit different there.
"I'll be back for Goodwood and I'll look forward to that."
Of Cardsharp, the rider added: "Once he got on top, he hit the line really well.
"He felt a different horse there. I rode him in the Norfolk and while we were up there, we were there under sufferance and I was keeping him up to his work.
"Today he travelled much smoother and when I gave him a little squeeze he came alive underneath me. I think six furlongs is definitely the right trip going forward."
Johnston was delighted to see Cardsharp prove his capabilities over six furlongs and is not ruling out a further step up in distance later in the season.
He 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 the Aidan O'Brien-trained U S Navy Flag: "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, but finished well to beat Invincible Army to third place.
Trainer Richard Spencer 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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