Elarqam is reported fit and ready to return to the fray in the Sky Bet York Stakes on the Knavesmire on Saturday.
The impeccably-bred colt, by Frankel out of dual Classic winner Attraction, bids to kick start his three-year-old campaign in this Group Two after being absent since disappointing in the Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Elarqam was found to have been off-colour afterwards but is 100 per cent again now and connections are looking forward to seeing him back in action and hopefully making up for lost time.
Hopes had been high for Mark Johnston’s charge, who had won both his starts as a juvenile, after he finished fourth to Saxon Warrior in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on his seasonal debut.
Richard Hills, assistant racing manager to owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, said: “After he disappointed in Ireland, he was thoroughly checked over. He was found to have a respiratory problem – a dirty scope – which was treated and has cleared up.
“He has been freshened up and this looks a good spot for him. His Guineas run was very good and hopefully he can get back on track.”
Connections feel he should be suited by the step up in distance and already have one eye on the Group One Juddmonte International Stakes back at York next month.
“The step up to a mile and a quarter shouldn’t pose any problems and he has won at the track before,” said Hills.
“If all goes to plan on Saturday, we would look at York (the Juddmonte International) and other big autumn targets.”
Richard Fahey was disappointed Forest Ranger found the step up to Group One company too much in the Coral-Eclipse but is hoping he will be more at home in this race after good wins at Newmarket and Chester earlier in the season.
“He needs to bounce back. You’d have to say he was probably not good enough in the Eclipse, but he was disappointing as well,” said Fahey.
“He probably ran a bit below-par, but he just wasn’t good enough.
“He has a penalty to carry and it’s going to be tough for him.”
David Menuisier believes Thundering Blue is good enough to take a hand in Pattern races after a tremendous effort over the course and distance saw him take second place in the John Smith’s Cup.
“I think he is probably a Group horse now,” he said.
“He could have won the John Smith’s Cup with a bit more pace and, if he had, he would probably be rated 107 or 108.”
The West Sussex handler was pleased the grey showed his true colours after things conspired against him in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes at Ascot.
“It was an accumulation of things that cost him in the Duke of Edinburgh. It was really quick ground, being the last race on the Friday, and was too fast for him,” said Menuisier.
“He is a hold-up horse, who has to go at his own pace before being allowed to use his stride, but he was drawn wide at Ascot and had to creep into the race. The same thing happened in the Cambridgeshire last year, when he had nothing to take him into the race.”
Michael Bell is hoping the Queen’s Fabricate can make amends for a slightly disappointing run in the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot.
“Fabricate has been in good form since Royal Ascot, where he ran slightly below-par,” said the Newmarket trainer.
“His run behind Crystal Ocean is very good form and if he runs to that sort of level on Saturday, he should give a very good account of himself.
“We are hoping, unlike most people, that the rain stays away.”
The possibility of thunderstorms has trainers taking a cautious approach about their prospects in the Sky Bet Dash Handicap.
Tim Easterby’s three-pronged attack on the six-furlong sprint is headed by last year’s winner Flying Pursuit, together with course specialists Golden Apollo and East Street Revue – but the Great Habton handler would like to see rain for at least two of his runners.
He said: “Flying Pursuit and Golden Apollo both need some rain. Both have been going well and are in good form.
“East Street Revue is stepping back up to six furlongs for the first time for a while. He’s in good form and likes the track. We’ll see.”
Roger Fell is hoping the rain stays away for Harome, who struck on the Knavesmire in a five-furlong handicap two weeks ago.
“He’s in good form. The worry is the ground has gone good and he definitely prefers quick ground,” said the Hawton handler.
“He’s never won over six furlongs, either, so that would have to be a bit of a worry, too.”
Stuart Williams is also monitoring the weather for fast-ground lover Daschas.
The four-year-old showed his well-being when winning a six-furlong handicap at Ascot two weeks ago and sneaks into this race off bottom weight.
“He’s not 100 per cent certain to go. I’m going to keep an eye on the weather. He didn’t run very well at York two starts ago when it rained,” said Williams.
“He very much likes fast ground, he’s in good form and he won well at Ascot last time.
“He’s got no weight as well – if we missed the thunderstorms that are forecast I’d hope he’d have a chance.”