Elarqam could only finish a lacklustre fourth as French raider Plumatic claimed top honours in the Tattersalls Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury.
The Mark Johnston-trained Elarqam is bred to be a superstar as a son of Frankel out of the great racemare Attraction and he looked every inch a Classic contender after winning twice as a juvenile.
He finished a creditable fourth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on his return to action, but disappointed in the Irish equivalent before finishing a close-up third in last month’s Sky Bet York Stakes.
Back at a mile, he was the even-money favourite to open his account for the campaign in this Group Three contest, but weakened tamely after making the early running and was ultimately well-beaten.
Plumatic, a recent winner of a conditions race at Chantilly for Andre Fabre, was a 3-1 shot in the hands of Maxime Guyon.
The four-year-old picked up to lead in the final furlong and was well on top as he passed the post a length ahead of Oh This Is Us.
Zonderland, winner of this race in 2016, was third.
Guyon said: “We had a perfect race behind the leader. My horse is very relaxed and when he is like that, he has a good turn of foot.
“This distance is really good for him. Before he went over 2000 metres (mile and a quarter) and 2400 metres (mile and a half) and maybe that is too far for him. Now we know he is better at 1600 metres.
“It’s the first time I’ve ridden on the track but it was OK. It rained a bit this morning, but we were OK as it was good to soft and not soft.”
Johnston will have to go back to the drawing board with the disappointing Elarqam.
He said: “Jim (Crowley) said he was hanging right throughout.
“Something is bothering him as he gets edgy at the start. He walks around the paddock as quiet as a lamb, then he sees those starting stalls and he starts to sweat.
“The early part of the race has gone great, but he just found nothing. We will go home and think again.
“We thought the ground was too firm in Ireland and we can’t say it is too soft today.”