Johnny Murtagh has suggested a step up to seven furlongs is on the cards for Shartash following his staying-on third behind Little Big Bear in the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh.

Shartash had won two of his three previous starts and earned his step up to Group 1 company when flying home late to touch off Little Big Bear’s stablemate Blackbeard in the Group 2 Railway Stakes.

Although outpaced at a crucial stage in the six-furlong event at the weekend behind the hugely impressive 2000 Guineas favourite, he did his best work in the latter stages to almost grab second from Persian Force.

Murtagh now plans to continue campaigning the son of Invincible Spirit at the highest level, with the extra furlong of the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes back at the Curragh on September 11 making plenty of appeal.

“I was very happy with the run and we are looking at the National Stakes next, all going well,” said Murtagh.

“He looked like he was going to stay seven the other day with the way he stayed on. He just got outpaced at an important part of the race, but we were delighted by the way he stayed on.”

The handler also provided an update on Ladies Church, who bounced back in style from disappointment at Royal Ascot to produce a career best and land the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes last month.

He added: “She’s very good and is on target for the Flying Five on Champions Weekend.”