Tuesday, 16th Jun 2020
Elarqam ran well in defeat last time out, but can make the step up in trip and land a fifth Hardwicke Stakes for trainer Mark Johnston at Royal Ascot on Friday (15:00).
The Middleham handler hasn’t scored in the 1m 4f Group 2 contest for older horses since 2005 when the royal meeting took place at York.
However, in Elarqam he has a Hamdan Al Maktoum owned five-year-old son of Frankel who reversed Royal Ascot form with Addeybb last season.
Although only third in the Wolferton Stakes 12 months ago, he turned the tables when the pair met again in the Group 2 York Stakes. The way Elarqam stayed on strongly suggests further will be no problem.
He was denied a clear run in the Group 1 Juddmonte International at the Ebor Festival when third to Japan. As Elarqam was only beaten 1 1/4 lengths and giving 7lb weight-for-age to the winner, he ran a fine race.
While he was then last of seven in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, that came at the end of a long season. Elarqam was far from disgraced on reappearance when just failing to win the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard at Haydock.
When headed by the winner Lord North, he stayed on and rallied superbly – going down by just a short-head. That is further evidence that Elarqam may stay further than 1m 2f.
The Hardwicke Stakes is unknown territory trip wise, but the owner’s retained rider Jim Crowley is back aboard. He went into Royal Ascot on a 20 per cent strike rate in the previous 14 days.
Taking all that into account, Elarqam looks worth chancing to make it six wins from 15.
Last year’s Epsom Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck ran an eye-catching race behind Ghaiyyath on reappearance, but needs a sounder surface.
The weather forecast is not promising for this Irish raider, then. Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Anthony Van Dyck has put his best foot forward on good ground.
While the four-year-old Galileo colt does have wins on soft, his handler says he prefers better going. There was give underfoot in the King George here last July when Anthony Van Dyck came a tailed off tenth.
Any further rain that hits Royal Ascot is a negative for him, then. A Classic winner should always command respect at this level, but Anthony Van Dyck needs taking on this time.
Last year’s Hardwicke Stakes scorer Defoe bombed out in the King George too. Sheikh Mohammed Obaid’s six-year-old grey gelding also paid the price for racing up with Ghaiyyath last time out.
Trained by Roger Varian, Defoe has top performances in him on his day but doesn’t consistently run at the same level.
Now among the older horses in the line-up, he looks vulnerable to improving and unexposed types. Despite his win in the race 12 months ago, Defoe doesn’t appeal this time around.
Getting weight all-round is John Gosden trained filly Fanny Logan. The four-year-old daughter of Sea The Stars had too much to do on her return to action at Haydock.
Fanny Logan won five of her eight starts last season all against fellow fillies. Stepping into open company for the Hardwicke Stakes is an interesting move from connections.
This is because Fanny Logan receives a 3lb sex allowance from the boys. Facing a number of older rivals, she comes out second best of the four-year-olds behind Anthony Van Dyck on adjusted ratings.
Fanny Logan kept on and finished a couple of lengths behind old rival Manuela De Vega. As she gave the winner a 3lb penalty, terms were not in her favour on Merseyside.
However, things are very different in the Hardwicke Stakes. With Frankie Dettori back in the saddle, Fanny Logan looks a solid each-way bet here.