Johnston duo appeal at Newmarket


Trainer Mark Johnston is enjoying a good season at Newmarket with a 17 percent strike rate and he’s got a pair of decent contenders for two of Saturday’s big prizes.

Johnston’s win-rate at Headquarters is currently 3 percent up on 2016 and his recent Lowther winner Threading can extend his strong stats by winning the Group 1 Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes (14:20).

The daughter of Exceed And Excel looked above average when hosing up to win her maiden at Goodwood in early August and that suspicion was further emphasised when Johnston opted to run in the Group 2 Lowther at York a mere 22 days later.

His confidence was justified as Threating travelled sweetly in the hands of James Doyle before coming through to win from previous Listed winner Madeline.

Threading looks a filly on the up and will likely show further improvement in the Cheveley Park where she rates a 4/1 chance make it three from three.

Her chief threat appears to be the Aidan O’Brien-trained Clemmie, last seen winning the Duchess of Cambridge on the July Course and 7/4 favourite to give the Ballydoyle handler back-to-back wins in the Fillies’ Group 1.

Johnston could also be in with leading claims via Cardsharp, a 10/1 shot capable of having a big say in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes (14:55).

Winner of the July Stakes over six furlongs at the track earlier in the season, Cardsharp has been placed in both subsequent runs whilst conceding penalties for that win. This move into Group 1 territory ensures he’ll be on level terms with his opposition and he makes solid appeal in the each-way market.

Punters will be facing a mammoth task in the Cambridgeshire (15:35), the big handicap at Newmarket on Saturday with 35 runners scheduled to go to post.

Any amount of runners can be given claims in this fiendish field but there was a lot to like about Andrew Balding’s Naval Warfare (16/1) when he scored over a mile at Newmarket last month. The stable are in useful form currently and so Oisin Murphy’s mount is fancied to run a big race off a workable weight.

With October calling this weekend, jumps racing fans will know that their time is fast approaching and there is a decent Grade 2 chase in Ireland on Saturday with the PWC Champion Chase (16:00) at Gowran Park.

The one-two from the Galway Plate meet again with Gordon Elliott’s Ballybrit winner Balko Des Flos likely an odds-on favourite to confirm superiority over runner-up Shaneshill.

The latter might have finished much closer there but for a crucial jumping error as things were getting serious. Now 7lb better off, Shaneshill is tipped to reverse the form and give Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins victory in this race for the second year running.

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