Johnston pair among International Stakes hopefuls

Field of 20 for Ascot’s big handicap.

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Mark Johnston is double-handed with top weight Vale Of Kent and Cardsharp in the Moet & Chandon International Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Frankie Dettori will again ride Vale Of Kent – as he did when they were down the field in this big handicap last year – while Adam Kirby will be on board likely outsider Cardsharp for Middleham trainer Johnston, and the same owner.

Blue Mist and Ebury are towards the head of the market in the 20-runner field, with Ryan Moore and Oisin Murphy in the saddle respectively for Roger Charlton and Martyn Meade.

Vale Of Kent and Dettori were eighth behind Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s winner Motakhayyel in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket two weeks ago – and they must again contend with significant opposition in those famous colours.

This time, the blue and white will be represented by Roger Varian’s Mutamaasik, Owen Burrows’ Habub and recent Sandown winner Eshaasy, at the foot of the weights for John Gosden.

Varian has a second contender in Spanish City, while David O’Meara provides a trio of hopefuls in Shelir, Arbalet and Cold Stare.

Last year’s winning trainer Jamie Osborne tries again – as Cliffs Of Capri bids to emulate the Lambourn yard’s 2019 success with Raising Sand – while Charlie Fellowes’ Royal Ascot winner Chiefofchiefs, with William Buick back to ride, and Eve Johnson Houghton’s hat-trick seeker Gin Palace catch the eye too.

Also on the card is the Listed Betfredtv Pat Eddery Stakes, formerly the Winkfield Stakes, and Burrows’ impressive Woodcote Stakes winner Twaasol is sure to be popular in a 10-strong field.

Among his opponents are Chindit, a very interesting youngster for Richard Hannon who obliged on his sole start to date after being backed as if defeat was out of the question.

Clive Cox’s Cobh is another who has yet to taste to defeat, having won at Haydock, while Saeiqa bids to break his duck at the third attempt for Gosden and Dettori after finishing third in the Group Two Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The Betfred “Nifty Fifty” Handicap has attracted a highly competitive field of eight three-year-olds, with William Haggas’ Johan, Tsar for Gosden and Dettori as well as Evening Sun all winners already this season.

Solo Saxophone is a notable entry for the John Guest Racing Brown Jack Handicap over just shy of two miles, another race to attract eight runners.

He has been in flying form for Ben Haslam, winning each of his three starts since joining the team from Dan Skelton’s yard.

Johnston pair among International Stakes hopefuls
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