Elarqam may be set for a second tilt at the Sky Bet York Stakes following his fine effort in defeat at Royal Ascot.
A son of Frankel out of the brilliant mare Attraction, Mark Johnston’s colt had plenty to live up to on breeding, but could hardly have made a better start after registering two impressive wins as a juvenile.
His three-year-old campaign was underwhelming, but he has bounced back in 2019 – winning the Listed Festival Stakes at Goodwood on his penultimate start before finishing third behind Addeybb in the Wolferton Stakes.
Elarqam was a close-up third behind Thundering Blue when a hot favourite for last season’s York Stakes – and Angus Gold, racing manager to owner-breeder Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, considers the Group Two contest on July 27 as a likely next port of call.
“I thought he ran nearly his best race at Ascot. I thought he would handle the ground, but Jim (Crowley) was adamant he didn’t like it that soft,” said Gold.
“One or two people have said maybe he didn’t stay, but Jim said that was not the case – and it was purely the ground.
“I’ve only spoken briefly to Mark, but we won’t go in too deep next time.
“I would think the York Stakes is eminently possible. That is exactly the sort of race he would be suited to. I think that is the right level – so with any luck, hopefully we will go back there.”
The victory of Afaak in the Royal Hunt Cup aside, it proved to be a frustrating week at the Royal meeting for Sheikh Hamdan.
Two of the leading owner’s most disappointing runners were Jash and Khaadem, who finished sixth and seventh respectively in the Commonwealth Cup.
Gold added: “Jash never ran a race, for whatever reason. He hung right and didn’t go forward – it was a very strange one.
“There is nothing obvious in the immediate aftermath that came to light. We will go back to the drawing board.
“It is interesting Ten Sovereigns didn’t go and win by five lengths, and he only just beat Jash last year, so you could argue on the form book he wouldn’t have been close anyway. But he is better than that – however good he is.
“We will be guided by (trainer) Simon (Crisford). I’m still not convinced he’s a sprinter, but I might be wrong. He wasn’t anything last week, and he didn’t run on like he wanted further.
“Khaadem was disappointing as well. He did scope dirty after the race. He produced a bit of mucus, so that might have been an excuse.
“He was going the right way, so it was disappointing how he ran at Ascot. I don’t think you could blame the ground. At least with him scoping dirty you could say there is a little bit of an excuse.”