Mark Johnston saddles Victory Command and No Lippy in his quest to claim two of the biggest prizes of the season at Beverley on Saturday.
Victory Command lines up in renowned Royal Ascot trial, the £35,000 Brian Yeardley Two-Year-Old Trophy (2.40). Stablemate No Lippy then runs in a fine renewal of the historic Hilary Needler Trophy (3.15), which is also worth £35,000 in prize-money. Johnston won the five-furlong Brian Yeardley 12 months ago with Cardsharp, who finished third in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and continually held his own in top company as a juvenile.
Victory Command has already caught the eye on a racecourse. The son of War Command easily won a Doncaster novice auction stakes on May 19. He then finished second to the highly-rated Ninetythreetwenty in a six-furlong conditions stakes at Pontefract six days later.
Charlie Johnston, the trainer’s son and assistant, said: "He's got a long way to go to reach the heights of Cardsharp, but he hasn't done much wrong. He won very comfortably at Donny and then probably bumped into quite a nice horse at Ponte. He's the highest-rated horse on Timeform figures and he's got a leading chance."
Stablemate No Lippy is prominent in the betting for the prestigious Hilary Needler Trophy, which will also provide significant clues for Royal Ascot and beyond. The Oasis Dream filly, owned by Barbara and Allick Richmond, has won three times already this season. No Lippy was only last in action a week ago when she drew a length and a half clear in the Edinburgh Castle Stakes at Musselburgh.
Charlie Johnston said: “She's a fantastic advertisement for getting a horse out and running. I was quite impressed with her at Musselburgh. A few behind her met with trouble in running, but I thought she did well. She takes her races very well and when the entries came out for the Hilary Needler it was always the idea to go to Beverley. Royal Ascot is certainly on the agenda. She makes us very proud.”
Johnston last won the five-furlong Hilary Needler in 2003 with Attraction, the dual Guineas heroine who went on to achieve greatness on a racecourse.
Beverley’s eight-race card begins at 2.05pm and also features the £15,000 Nearly Graham Hallett Memorial Fillies’ Handicap over a mile and a quarter (3.50). The going is good ahead of A Very British Raceday at Beverley, with sunny spells and a high of 16C forecast for Saturday.
Trucking By Brian Yeardley Two-Year-Old Trophy (2.40)
1) Its the Only Way (Richard Hannon/Pat Dobbs)
2) Life Of Riley (Karl Burke/Clifford Lee)
3) Big Ace (Tim Easterby/Andrew Mullen)
4) Jungle Inthebungle (Mick Channon/Charles Bishop)
5) Tin Hat (Eve Johnson Houghton/Kieran O’Neill)
6) Victory Command (Mark Johnston/PJ McDonald)
7) Wasntexpectingthat (Richard Fahey/Paul Hanagan)
8) Adam Tiler (Robert Cowell/Gerald Mosse)
9) King Billy (Brian Ellison/Ben Robinson)
10) Midnight Sands (James Given/Barry McHugh)
Hilary Needler Trophy (3.15)
1) Alicia Darcy (James Given/Barry McHugh)
2) Antico Lady (Brian Ellison/Ben Robinson)
3) Dame Gladys (Kevin Ryan/Andrew Mullen)
4) Deia Glory (Scott Dixon/Kieran O’Neill)
5) Good Tyne Girl (Richard Fahey/Paddy Mathers)
6) Gypsy Spirit (Tom Clover/Gerald Mosse)
7) Josiebond (Rebecca Bastiman/Phil Dennis)
8) Kodyanna (Richard Fahey/Paul Hanagan)
9) Lady Prancealot (David Evans/Clifford Lee)
10) No Lippy (Mark Johnston/PJ McDonald)
11) Pearl Of Qatar (Brian Ellison/JP Guillambert)
12) Vikivaki (Robert Cowell/Charles Bishop)
13) Wedding Date (Richard Hannon/Pat Dobbs)