Rebel ready for Beverley battle

Mark Johnston trains Rebel Assault

Rebel Assault will aim to put an expensive failure last weekend behind her when she contests the Hilary Needler Trophy at Beverley.

Sent off a long odds-on favourite at Musselburgh after an easy debut win at Catterick, she was surprisingly beaten by It Dont Come Easy, who needed to break the course record to get the upper hand.

Mark Johnston has not won the Hilary Needler since the brilliant Attraction in 2003, who went on to claim the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot before a brilliant three-year-old career.

Charlie Johnston, the trainer's son and assistant, said: "She was sent off 2/5 favourite at Musselburgh so obviously we were shocked she was beaten.

"However, I think they were two very good youngsters. They broke the track record and pulled 10 lengths clear and I think Richard (Fahey) thinks a fair bit of the winner.

"She still ran a good race and having won on her debut by eight lengths in a hack canter she'll have learned plenty from last week.

"We could have gone straight to Royal Ascot with her but she's about 20lb clear on the ratings and this looked a good opportunity for her.

"As we showed with (Coventry Stakes winner) Buratino a couple of years ago, we're not afraid to run our two-year-olds to get experience into them. You have to be very good to win at Ascot after just one run and we're not shy of being beaten, we're keen to get runs into them."

Owner Keith Brown has high hopes for Brian Ellison's Moonlit Sands but whether she has improved enough after her fifth place on debut is another matter.

"She's the real deal," said Brown.

"She's had that one race, up at Redcar, but didn't know what the heck was going on. She was very green, but she picked up really well at the end and will have come on loads for that.

"I'm not sure whether she'll win the Hilary Needler or not, but she's in great form and everyone at Brian's yard loves her. Brian seems to think she wants a bit of cut in the ground, too, so we've got great hopes for her.

"She's a class act and it would be lovely to think about Royal Ascot if she ends up going well at the weekend."

Robert Cowell runs the debutante Chic La Habana, who cost #64,000 and is from a good family.

"She's a nicely-bred filly and I'd say she will have no problems handling a bit of cut in the ground," said Cowell.

"She's got a good pedigree and is a nice horse and this race will tell us whether or not we should be aiming higher with her. She's got a bit to find with some of the principals but she's in good form and is ready for a run.

"I'd also say she'll handle six (furlongs) in time."

James Given won the race with Jadanna in 2012 and this time runs Mount Victoria, not disgraced in Listed company at York last time out.

"She didn't really like the ground at York, but she did go on it," said Given.

"She's got a bit to find with Maggies Angel (fourth at York), but she's a nice filly and we'd be disappointed if she didn't finish mid-division or higher."


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