GBI RACING

Elarqam team still puzzled by Curragh flop

Elarqam winning at Newmarket last season

Plans for Elarqam remain fluid following his disappointing effort in the Irish 2,000 Guineas a fortnight ago.

Mark Johnston’s charge was a hot favourite for the Curragh Classic after his fourth placed finish in the Guineas at Newmarket, but the son of Frankel out of the brilliant mare Attraction finished a well-beaten sixth.

Subsequent tests have failed to reveal any significant abnormalities and connections are now in a quandary over whether to continue down the Group One path or lower his sights.

Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father, said: “We gave him the once over and there were no orthopaedic or soundness issues. We scoped him and it came back a little bit dirty, but nothing has come to light to explain that sort of performance.

“He has been back cantering since last Sunday and seems well and fine.

“He was beaten at halfway. We went there knowing if he ran to his Newmarket level he would go very close. He ran a stone below it. Quite why, we don’t know. At this stage, we’ve just got to suck it up and move on.

“I’m sure dad will want to speak to Angus Gold (racing manager) and Sheikh Hamdan (owner). There are two clear different routes to go down and that is come down in class and try to get his head back in front , or to keep campaigning him like a Guineas fourth and throw him back in the deep end somewhere.

“We’ve let the dust settle from Ireland and we will sit down with the Shadwell team in the next week or two and decide which route we go down.”

While Elarqam appears unlikely to be part of Johnston’s team for Royal Ascot later this month, the Middleham-based trainer is assembling a strong squad for the showpiece fixture.

Threading, who bolted up in a Listed contest at York last month, is set to step back up in class for the Coronation Stakes.

Johnston junior added: “The Coronation is probably shaping up to be the race of the meeting now the English, Irish and French 1000 Guineas winners could all be going there.

“It’s going to be a very tough race, but we saw in the Lowther last year she is a very high-class filly.

“It is hard to say what level her performance was at York last time, but the manner in which she beat them was of a top-class filly, so I think Ascot is the place to go.”

The form of Mildenberger’s runner-up finish in the Dante at York has worked out well, with his conqueror Roaring Lion finishing third in the Investec Derby.

“We are very happy with him. He is in the King Edward VII and Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot,” said Johnston.

“The initial plan before Epsom was that Mildenberger would probably go the King Edward and Dee Ex Bee would go for the Queen’s Vase. That was on the assumption that Dee Ex Bee would finish fifth or sixth in the Derby, but he finished second.

“He has run himself out the Queen’s Vase. The likelihood is Dee Ex Bee sidesteps Royal Ascot altogether, in which case you could pick either race as Mildenberger’s target.

“I would probably say he is 65-35 going for the King Edward VII over the Queen’s Vase.”

Headlines