CARDSHARP can do the trick in Ascot’s red-hot International Stakes.
You normally need a Group-class horse to win races like this and Mark Johnston’s three-year-old looks well up to that standard.
After some decent efforts over 6f, he was upped to this trip for the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket last time out.
That was a superb effort to finish fourth, just a length off the pace in that similar cavalry charge. It was arguably a better effort than his Listed victory at Salisbury last month.
The handicapper has been more than fair by dropping him 4lb despite that excellent effort on the July course.
Although he’s had plenty of work already this season, Johnston horses can handle it and, at the age of three, there should be more to come.
He acquitted himself well in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup on his last visit to Ascot so has a touch of class.
Flaming Spear looks a danger after catching the eye on his comeback from nine months off when fifth in the Royal Hunt Cup over a mile.
Trainer Dean Ivory has wisely given him a little break since then and he should be competitive off the same mark.
He travels strongly so should be able to keep his place in the blazing early exchanges.
Burnt Sugar has a 3lb penalty for his Bunbury Cup win and might have been value for a bit more than the official half-length. He should run well again.
There are plenty in with a chance, including Shady McCoy and Spanish City who dead-heated for second at Newmarket.
Richard Fahey has won this twice in the past three years so his runners are respected. The pick could be Zap who came with a strong run to win over this trip at HQ last time and is on the upgrade.
The presence of Cracksman in the King George line-up at 3.40 makes it an even more interesting contest.
He managed to win the Coronation Cup at Epsom despite all kinds of mishaps before being sent off the 2-5 favourite for the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
He was put in his place by POET’S WORD there and, unless he bounces back to his best, it is likely to be a similar story today.
This could turn out to be a battle between him and the other Sir Michael Stoute runner Crystal Ocean. The latter has already shown his best form over this distance and he was impressive when taking the Hardwicke at the Royal meeting.
But he could just lack the class of Poet’s Word who simply scorched away from his rivals last time. That was over 1m2f but he’s won at this trip before and certainly wasn’t stopping.
The others in the line-up have a fair bit to prove with Hydrangea well off the pace at Royal Ascot dropped to a mile. She will be much happier over this distance but her best efforts have come with some cut in the ground.
ELARQAM has his sights lowered for the York Stakes (3.15).
After looking classy as a two-year-old he was supported for the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket when he ran well to finish fourth despite looking undercooked on his comeback.
That saw him well backed into favourite for the Irish version where he ran short of his best in sixth.
It may have been that the English Guineas had taken too much out of him and Mark Johnston has given him a couple of months off since The Curragh, which looks a wise move.
He drops from Classics into this Group 2 and the step up to 1m2f for the first time could also bring improvement.
Euginio could be the biggest threat after he was beaten less than a length in a Listed race at Sandown last time. He had earlier gone close in the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot and is capable of better.
1.50 Angels Hideaway
3.40 Poet’s Word
4.15 Nate The Great
5.20 Sleeping Lion
2.15 Get Knotted
2.15 Machell Place
3.25 Victory Wave
4.00 Roundhay Park
4.35 West Coast Flyer
5.10 War Whisper
5.40 Bedouins Story
2.00 Gabrial The Wire
2.35 Forever A Lady
3.45 Snow Wind
4.20 Lord Vetinari
1.10 Amber Spark
1.40 Something Brewing
2.45 Indian Chief
3.20 My Target
3.55 Lucky Lucky Man
5.05 Little Jo
5.30 Tilsworth Lukey
6.00 Trouble And Strife
8.30 Flying Sakhee
6.45 Look Surprised
7.45 Midnight Meeting