Racing: Jumpup to muffle Johnston's firepower

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The Independent Online

The Silver Bullets are scattered out of Mark Johnston's powerful munitions factory this weekend with talented animals travelling to Sandown, the Curragh and Deauville. Given the option of which course to attend, Johnston has, for some reason, plumped for the chic and gastronomy of the Normandy coast, where Mister Monet attempts to continue his ascension in the Prix Guillaume d'Ornano.

The Silver Bullets are scattered out of Mark Johnston's powerful munitions factory this weekend with talented animals travelling to Sandown, the Curragh and Deauville. Given the option of which course to attend, Johnston has, for some reason, plumped for the chic and gastronomy of the Normandy coast, where Mister Monet attempts to continue his ascension in the Prix Guillaume d'Ornano.

It is, however, the two-year-old generation which appears to be particularly exciting at Kingsley House at the moment. Shamardal, the expansive winner of the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood last month, is currently the favourite for the 2005 2,000 Guineas, while Elliots World was a solid winner of the Acomb Stakes on the opening day of the Ebor meeting.

Two other musketeers are unleashed today in the shape of Melrose Avenue, who takes in the Futurity Stakes in Ireland, and the Solario Stakes consideration at Esher, Leo's Lucky Star.

The latter, an unbeaten $200,000 yearling, is following the same path as Johnston's Lucky Story. He won the same race as his older stablemate at Pontefract after succeeding on his Ayr debut. This afternoon will tell us plenty more about him as he now steps into the realm of proven horses such as Silver Wraith and Fox.

Leo's Lucky Star also runs up against another form horse in Johnny Jumpup (2.15), who has a considerable scalp looped over his belt, indeed one gained when the ground was similar to today's Sandown treacle. Ralph Beckett's colt beat Iceman when both were making debuts at Bath, and the runner-up went on to win the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.

As far as the Lambourn trainer is concerned, it might as well rain until September. "I've never had a runner in a Group race before, and I hope that Sandown gets all the 30mm of rain that they have been forecasted," Beckett said yesterday.

It is a misshapen afternoon for home-based punters, an afternoon when the policy of having racing and Test cricket on the same channel shows its vulnerability. There are only five live races, as Channel 4 could not persuade Chester to bring the start of racing forward and help accommodate the Test fare from The Oval. The Scoop6 remains in safe keeping though, as the contingency is to show a recording of the finish of the contest before the Listed handicap on the Roodeye. An unworthy aspiration is for rain to visit south London, in which case the whole of the race would be screened.

It is Channel 4 or nothing. If you see a horse on the Olympic-crazed BBC these days it has usually got Pippa Funnell on its back.

The world of the turf does go on though and Zietory (1.40), who is in possession of uninspiring form figures, should bounce back against rather watery opposition at Sandown. Smokin Beau (next best 3.25) is penalised for last weekend, but he is on a run and ready for the hat-trick, while the day has finally come for Dream Magic (nap 2.50), who was a neck second at Windsor on Monday evening and looks primed to go one better.

The Chester race is a flip, or perhaps a dual forecast, between two horses which have pedigree in the Listed contest. Compton Bolter won it last year from Supremacy, the bearer of the laurels 12 months earlier. The weights put them fairly close together once again.

Compton Bolter returned from an indifferent sequence with a third to Mubtaker in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury last Saturday. "He's running off the same mark as he did in the race last year," Chris McGrath, racing secretary to trainer Gerard Butler, said yesterday. "Unfortunately he's up 4lb for his performance in what was a four-runner race at Newbury, but he did show some signs of life. He likes the course, but he wouldn't want it to be a slog." Supremacy's connections chose Chester instead of an assault on the Ebor.

At the Curragh, Johnston's Melrose Avenue is the sole British representative among the five-strong field for the Futurity Stakes. The Middleham handler has a fine record in the seven-furlong contest, having won it three times,. However, Aidan O'Brien is double-handed, with course and distance winner Carnegie Hall as well as Oratorio, who was runner-up to Damson in the Group One Phoenix Stakes last month.

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