Mark Johnston targets Beverley double

Trainer Mark Johnston will attempt to claim victory in the prestigious Hilary Needler Trophy (3.15pm) at Beverley on Saturday for the first time since the mighty Attraction struck in 2003.

The Middleham handler this season saddles Rebel Assault, who was defeated by It Dont Come Easy at a short price at Musselburgh last weekend but had previously excelled on her debut at Catterick.

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."

Rebel Assault is one of seven fillies declared for the £25,000 Hilary Needler Trophy, which was most famously won by the dual Classic heroine Attraction. The Johnston team also have high hopes in the Brian Yeardley Continental Two-Year-Old Trophy, which is fast becoming a renowned staging post for Royal Ascot and is held 35 minutes before the Hilary Needler at 2.40pm. Cardsharp and Rufus King both run for Johnston in the valuable conditions stakes, with the two horses also in contention for Royal Ascot later in the month.

The former was a fine second in the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom last Friday, while Rufus King looked the real deal in a good race at Pontefract a fortnight ago.

Charlie Johnston added: "Cardsharp probably achieved enough at Epsom to go straight to Ascot but he's the clear top-rated horse in this field. We've decided to go again with him and along with Rufus King. They are probably more Coventry Stakes horses than Norfolk Stakes horses (at Royal Ascot) as they really need six furlongs."

The £25,000 Brian Yeardley Continental Two-Year-Old Trophy was last year claimed by Prince Of Lir, who ended up winning the Norfolk Stakes. Beverley runner-up The Last Lion also finished runner-up at Royal Ascot and later that season secured Group One glory at Newmarket.

A Very British Raceday is one of the flagship meetings of Beverley's season, with the first of seven races on an excellent card due to start at 2.05pm.