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German trip may beckon for Elarqam

Elarqam could be given the chance to claim an elusive first Group One success in next month’s Grosser Preis Von Bayern in Munich.

In what has been a largely frustrating campaign for the Mark Johnston-trained son of Frankel, connections are now considering supplementing him for the mile-and-a-half prize on November 8.

After failing to score in his first three starts this season, Elarqam took full advantage of a return to Group Three company last time out to open his account for the year in the Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup at Newbury.

Johnston’s son and assistant Charlie said: “It’s frustrating, because in a normal year we would have gone to North America for either the Canadian International or Northern Dancer.

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“A Group One is what is missing from his CV, and we thought those are the ideal places to have gone to try and get it.  As it is, he may now run in the Grosser Preis von Bayern – which is two weeks on Sunday.

“He is still in full work but he would need to be supplemented, so we would need to be 100 per cent happy with him for the next 10 days and for (owner) Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and his team to be happy.”

Nayef Road will be campaigned to try to go one better in next year’s Ascot Gold Cup, after a decision was made to draw stumps for this season with the Galileo colt.

Johnston added: “Nayef Road is finished for the year now. It has been frustrating in some ways that he has picked up the baton from Dee Ex Bee and banged his head against the Stradivarius wall.

“In hindsight, maybe we should have saved him for Ascot on Champions Day rather than run in the Lonsdale, but at the time we thought that looked a good opportunity.

“After York we thought he had done enough for the year, so we will look to have him back next year to have a go at the Ascot Gold Cup again.”

Sir Ron Priestley will be given the chance to try and become a potential contender for the Ascot Gold Cup (Martin Rickett/PA Images)
Sir Ron Priestley will be given the chance to try and become a potential contender for the Ascot Gold Cup (Martin Rickett/PA Images)

Next season’s Ascot Gold Cup could be a target too for 2019 St Leger runner-up Sir Ron Priestley, who has missed the current campaign through injury after a deal to race in Australia fell through earlier this year.

Johnston added: “There were offers for him to go to Australia earlier this year. He passed the vets to go in February/March time, and that deal fell through.

“He has had two separate setbacks this year, one in the spring and then a completely unrelated one about a month ago – which has written this year off.

“The plan will be to bring him back as a five-year-old and try to make him into a Gold Cup horse.”

Elarqam bounces back to form with Legacy win

Elarqam got his career back on track with a front-running victory in the Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup at Newbury.

A son of Frankel out of the yard’s brilliant racemare Attraction, Mark Johnston’s has largely upheld family honour well, with Group Three and Group Two triumphs featuring among his five previous career wins.

However, since a promising start to the season when touched off by Lord North at Haydock, the five-year-old has disappointed in both the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and when bidding for back-to-back successes in the York Stakes.

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Jim Crowley’s mount was a 2-1 shot for his latest assignment and led his three rivals from the off.

Admirable veteran Desert Encounter – winner of this Group Three contest in 2017 and 12 months ago – emerged as the biggest threat in the final furlong, but Elarqam dug deep to see him off by a length and a half.

Market leader Extra Elusive (6-4) was third, with Gifts Of Gold last of the quartet.

Elarqam (centre) proved too good at Newbury
Elarqam (centre) proved too good at Newbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Johnston said: “It is great to see him back winning. It’s a shame it hasn’t been on a big day this year.

“If you look at his form last year, you would have said he should be winning a Group One this year and unfortunately it hasn’t fallen his way. We were running out of opportunities and that is why we came here, as there wasn’t really anywhere else to go. Everything has gone his way today, so it was good to see.

“It has been a frustrating season. When you look at his run in the Juddmonte last year, you would have said he showed there he was well and truly a Group One horse.

“With a pedigree like his, you would expect to see him get a Group One for a good stud job. I’m sure he will get a good stud job, but we want to see him get a good one, that is why it has been frustrating.

“I don’t think it matters where you run him. He is a bit lazy. If you think back to his best run this year at Haydock, given another 100 yards he would have got back up. He just gets a bit idle in front and needs something to aim at. If they sprint at him too quickly, it doesn’t give him time to respond.

“I don’t know what we do now to be honest. I just wanted to get another win back under his belt, but we are running out of opportunities.”