Elarqam the Best Bet on Sandown’s Friday Card
Plenty has been said about four year old Elarqam over the past couple of years, he certainly has been a horse that gets people talking. From his hugely successful two year old career to his fourth in the Guineas at the start of 2018, followed by a miserable campaign last season. Now the talking is all about him coming back to his best and running in top class company again, something he has shown he can do with his most recent two runs.
Two starts ago he won a listed race in very good style by just over two lengths and that was the first sign he was back. That was a decent race, probably as good as this one, and the yard rightfully sent him to Royal Ascot after that. He ran in the listed Wulfreton Stakes, which although it is officially a listed race, looked more like a Group Two with the runners that took part in it. This was a very hot contest, and perhaps a step too far for now, although Elarqam did nothing wrong by finishing in third behind Addeybb.
He again remains in listed company, but if anything he is taking a drop back in class here in terms of the company he is keeping. This is very similar to the race he ran at Goodwood, and a lower quality than the one he contested at Royal Ascot. After that very good run at Ascot, and the way in which he won at Goodwood, I’ve got high hopes for him here, even though he now has a 3lb penalty to carry for his Goodwood success.
On top of this, we are again seeing the horse run over 1m2f. This is a trip we have not seen him at too often yet, and there could still be more to come from him over this kind of trip. His last two runs were at this distance and based on those we certainly know he gets it, and he is capable of running well over it.
His biggest danger may be Royal Line, but that horse has a break to contend with as we have not seen him since November last year when he won a handicap. He has slowly rose through the handicapping ranks and the suspicion was that he would always make up into a better horse than just a handicapper. To win a big handicap off a mark of 105, which is what he did last time, shows that you are a horse that is more than capable of winning a listed race and kept to this level, I do think Royal Line will win races this season.
However, it looks as though it will take more than just listed level to beat Elarqam if he repeats his last two runs. At Goodwood we saw him comfortably get the better of good quality listed horses and at Royal Ascot he placed in a race which was comparable to a Group Two. This is a horse who can dominate others when running in listed company and I think that is exactly what is going to happen here.
Elarqam and Royal Line are the two class animals in this field, but with the question mark over no recent run, and the recent form of Elarqam showing him to be better than your average listed animal, I think this is going to go to the Mark Johnston trained horse.
Don’t give up on Royal Line, he will win races later down the line but on Friday, Elarqam is certainly the horse I want to be with at Sandown.