Elarqam wins York Stakes
By John Scanlon
Already enjoying a successful season, the beautifully bred Elarqam (pictured) produced a career-best performance at York on July 27 when staying on strongly to land the Group 2 York Stakes.
The race itself was established in 2006, replacing the Scottish Derby at Ayr in the racing programme, and it has enjoyed Group 2 status since its inception. Elarqam actually ran in the race last year as a three-year-old, leading for most of the extended ten furlong trip before being headed in the closing stages to finish third behind Thundering Blue. Unfortunately, the horse raced only once thereafter last season, having sustained a season-ending injury.
Since making his seasonal debut at Newmarket in April, Elarqam has strung together some decent efforts. At Goodwood, he won the Listed Festival Stakes, a performance which booked his place on the yard’s Royal Ascot team. There he ran very creditably in the Listed Wolferton Stakes, bursting to the head of affairs a furlong out before being overhauled by an impressive Addeybb. A further Listed win was added earlier in July when Elarqam took the Gala Stakes at Sandown.
At York, Elarqam was ridden by Dane O’Neill, second retained jockey to his owner, Hamdan al Maktoum. Straight from the start, Knight To Behold was sent into the lead by Ben Curtis, while Forest Ranger and Elarqam disputed second. Due to the rain which had fallen on the Knavesmire, the field crossed to the stands’ side in the straight, with Knight To Behold bagging prime position on the stands’ rail.
Striking the front with two furlongs left to race, Elarqam was a length clear of his field as they passed the furlong pole. Slightly short of room in behind, Addeybb emerged as his nearest challenger, but in truth Elarqam stayed on so strongly that he ran out a comfortable winner, scoring by three and a quarter lengths from Addeybb. Knight To Behold hung on for second, a further length and a half in arrears.
A delighted Charlie Johnston welcomed Elarqam back to the winners’ enclosure. “This win is quite emotional in many ways,” Charlie admitted. “This horse has always been special to us, having trained his mother (Attraction). I’m just so pleased for the horse, as much as anything. Hopefully he’s now going to get some of the credit he deserves, because he is a very good horse – and this year he had strung together four really solid efforts. He looked a million dollars in the pre-parade ring, and he’s much tighter and harder than he was as a three-year-old.”
“From 3 to 4 he’s really improved,” Charlie continued, “and he probably deserves a shot at the highest level again. That said, this was a major target for the year and he’s delivered, so we’re over the moon with this win.”
The win underlined the exceptional form of the yards’ horses in July, as this was a third Group 2 success of the month – a terrific performance by any standards.
The team also scored a Newmarket double courtesy of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed’s Charles Kingsley and KP 10’s Seductive Moment. Both winners were partnered by Joe Fanning. Charles Kingsley took the 14-furlong handicap by a length. Seductive Moment missed the break but gradually came back to the field to take charge of affairs over two from home to win the mile handicap by three and three quarter lengths. Seductive Moment’s win was the 46th of the month for the team. The most winners ever achieved were in July 2015 when 47 were sent out… Could a new record be set this month?