Elarqam expected to improve for run in high-class Brigadier Gerard

Sangarius another making seasonal bow in Group Three feature at Haydock.

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Elarqam will attempt to make the most of a drop in class on his return to action in the Betway Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Haydock on Sunday.

Last sighted contesting the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in September, the Mark Johnston-trained five-year-old reverts to Group Three company on his seasonal bow.

Although connections hope the son of Frankel can make his presence in the 10-furlong prize, they expect him to improve significantly for the run ahead of bigger and better assignments.

Assistant trainer Charlie Johnston said: “It was an obvious race for him to start off in.

“We might go up to a mile and a half at some point, given how he hit the line in the Juddmonte. We have got the Hardwicke half in the back of our mind. I think his chance in a Hardwicke will only improve running in the Brigadier Gerard.

“He is a very laid-back horse at home. I think the trip played its part, but he certainly improved for his first run last year in the Earl of Sefton, so we would been keen to get something under his belt before going to Ascot.”

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Sangarius makes his first start since landing the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot 12 months ago, having been declared a non-runner in the Paradise Stakes at Newmarket on Friday.

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, said: “The main reason we took him out of the Paradise Stakes was we felt the ground might be a bit too fast for him as he has been off a long time since running at Ascot and we wanted a bit of ease in the ground.

“He did have a little issue, but that has been fixed. He has been sound since and has had a pretty straightforward preparation throughout the winter from that point of view.

“He is a great big scopey horse that is in good form, but he is bound to be a bit rusty as he has been off for so long. He could potentially be very good, but he has got to prove it now.”

Jockey Robert Havlin believes last year’s Cambridgeshire winner Lord North has the class to make an impact on his first outing in Pattern-race company.

He said of the John Gosden-trained four-year-old: “They are expecting some rain and that will help him. I rode him on Friday morning and he feels good, although he shapes as though he will come on for the run.

“He is a different horse this year, he is a more relaxed horse than he was. He used to be quite angry, but he seems to have grown up.

“It is a tough race, but we are still expecting a good run. I’m looking forward to getting him back on track.

“I think a mile and a quarter is his trip and I won a Listed race on him over that trip last year.”

Hughie Morrison is another keen to see rain arrive at the Merseyside venue for his stable star, and last year’s impressive Dante winner, Telecaster.

Morrison said: “We didn’t think Newmarket was the right place to come first time out with him so thankfully they moved the Brigadier Gerard to Haydock.

“We do need all the forecast rain to run. He had three hard races on firm ground last year and although there is nothing wrong with him, you want to give him a nice introduction.

“He is still a young immature horse and we want to do the best for him. He is a fantastic looking horse now. He looks stronger and has been working well.”

Unlike most of his rivals Bangkok has already had two starts on the all-weather this year, something his trainer Andrew Balding, who also saddles Pivoine, could work in his favour.

He said: “It looks a strong race and everybody is in the same boat trying to get a run in before Ascot. He has been in good shape at home.

“There is a possibility after this he could step back up to a mile and a half for the Hardwicke.

“Hopefully having had two spins on the all-weather already this year might be to his advantage, but they were a long time ago now.”

Charlie Fellowes believes any rain that falls will boost the chances of King Ottokar.

The Newmarket trainer said: “We want rain all this rain up at Haydock for King Ottokar, but he is in great form and is ready to run.

“I want good ground as a minimum for him. He has got loads of options going forward, like the Wolferton at Royal Ascot.”

Elarqam expected to improve for run in high-class Brigadier Gerard
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