Mark Johnston is keeping his fingers crossed Elarqam can uphold family honour in the Qipco 2000 Guineas on Saturday week.
The three-year-old is certainly bred for the Classic as a son of the brilliant Frankel, who won the 2000 Guineas seven years ago, out of trainer Johnston’s top-class racemare Attraction, who won five Group Ones, including the 1000 Guineas in 2004.
Elarqam is unbeaten in two career starts and while he has not been seen in competitive action since landing the Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket last September, he enjoyed a racecourse gallop over the Rowley Mile at last week’s Craven meeting.
Johnston said: “It wasn’t exactly a hard piece of work, and he hardly ended up seeing the other two horses, but he needed the experience of a day out and it’s a concern for me going into the 2000 Guineas with only two runs under his belt.
“He has to improve, but I have a lot of faith in his ability. And in a lot of ways it’s more exciting than it was with Attraction as being by Frankel out of Attraction, he’s the best-bred horse I’ve ever trained, the best-bred horse by a country mile that I have ever taken to a Classic.
“The implications of what sort of stallion he would be, or how popular he might be as a stallion if he won the 2000 Guineas don’t bear thinking about.”
Johnston reports Elarqam to bear a striking resemblance of his mother, but is not nearly as confident as he was ahead of her bid for Guineas glory.
He added: “Elarqam is the absolute spitting image of Attraction. If you could draw a blueprint of what a colt out of Attraction would look like, you’d draw him.
“It’s a huge pleasure to be sent the offspring of Attraction to train. Up to date, I think she’s had 11 foals and this was only the third that we had been sent – the first two were winners, both good horses – and we’ve now also got a Dubawi two-year-old which Sheikh Hamdan has kindly sent to us.
“This is nothing like it was with Attraction when she won the 1000 Guineas. On that day, I believed that if she stayed, she would win. At that stage with Attraction, I firmly believed she was the best filly in Europe.”
Johnston confirmed Elarqam is likely to be joined in the 2000 Guineas by stablemate Cardsharp.
Based seven miles away from Johnston’s Middleham yard is Karl Burke, who is relishing the prospect of saddling Laurens in the 1000 Guineas the following afternoon, a race that like the colts’ version forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series.
The daughter of Siyouni won three of her four juvenile starts, including the Fillies’ Mile, but Burke feels she could still be “under the radar”.
After seeing his filly canter on the High Moor gallops in Middleham on Thursday, the Spigot Lodge handler said: “There are no easy Group Ones, no easy Classics. All you can do is get them there as fit and as well and healthy as you can.
“At this time of year, I think it’s especially hard for fillies. You can’t push them. You’ve just got to let them come and see if they’ve got the ability or they haven’t.
“We know this filly has got the ability. It’s just a matter of getting her there on the day.”
He added: “It would be fantastic to have a British Classic on the CV. The best day I had in racing was when we sent Libertarian to the Investec Derby and he finished second. The whole event was fantastic.
“If we could go one better on Sunday week, it’s going to be an amazing day.
“I think she’s got a big chance. Her two-year-old form was very good and if anything I think she has improved on that.
“I think she’s just gone under the radar a little bit.”