'Elarqam is the spitting image of Attraction'
Mark Johnston trained the great mare and her high-flying son
No horse heads into the season's opening Classic with stronger pedigree credentials than Elarqam.
The Shadwell-owned colt boasts a page that brims with Group 1 form. He is, of course, by Frankel, who produced just about the most dominant display ever witnessed in a Classic with an all-the-way success in the 2011 2,000 Guineas.
He is also the eighth foal out of Attraction, the daughter of Efisio who recorded the first of five top-flight victories when making all to land the 2004 1,000 Guineas in typically game fashion.
And not only does Elarqam have Classic-winning parents on both sides of his pedigree, but he also boasts a similar profile at the corresponding stage of his career. That is, he heads for the Guineas after an unbeaten two-year-old campaign, as did Frankel and Attraction.
For the colt's trainer - Mark Johnston, who also handled the racing career of Attraction - the similarities do not end in terms of profile.
"Elarqam is the spitting image of this mother," he said. "I've seen all of Attraction's foals at some stage and none of them have looked quite so much like her as he does. I wouldn't necessarily say there are similarities temperament-wise, although he's very laid back, as she was at home, but they certainly look like each other."
Johnston also handled the racing careers of Attraction's first and seventh foals, ElationI and Huntlaw, both of whom won, but the trainer was quick to highlight that Elarqam does not have too much in common with his half-siblings.
"I wouldn't say that Elarqam has any similarities to the other pair that I trained," he said. "He's a lot better than them for a start!"
Despite their obvious similarities, Johnston explained that some significant differences between Attraction and her unbeaten son are also apparent.
"Elarqam never showed the sort of speed that Attraction showed as a two-year-old, but he's looking a lot sharper this year, though he wouldn't have ever been winning sprint races like she did," he said.
"Sheikh Hamdan has always said that he would expect Elarqam to be running over a mile and a quarter, maybe even further, as a three-year-old. We don't know how far Frankel stayed, apart from that he stayed as far as they wanted him to.
"Had he run over a mile and a half I think he'd probably have won. When you think of Frankel's progeny it's the same as with Galileo's; they can win over shorter trips but also have the stamina for middle distances."
Another key difference between Elarqam and his dam is their sales history. Attraction and her hugely promising son were both bred by the Duke of Roxburghe's Floors Stud, but while she was retained by her owner, Elarqam was offered at the sales, where he fetched 1,600,000gns from Shadwell, making him the most expensive yearling to have ever set foot in Johnston's well-stocked yard.
"Obviously you're conscious of it," he said when asked about the pressures associated with conditioning such an expensive thoroughbred.
"I visited Sheikh Hamdan in Dubai around this time last year and when discussing Elarqam I told him that he shouldn't forget that the mother won the Queen Mary, to which he said 'don't forget that she didn't cost one point six million!' That was a stark reminder!"
Having inside knowledge of the traits and tendencies of this family may also stand Johnston in good stead later in the season, as his latest intake of juveniles includes Maydanny, Elarqam's 1,350,000gns half-brother by Dubawi.
"Maydanny's doing everything fine, although, interestingly, he doesn't look anything like Elarqam," said Johnston.
"It's all a little bit random, but Frankel is not renowned at all for stamping his stock, whereas Dubawi is, and Maydanny certainly looks a lot more like Dubawi than Attraction. It certainly helps to know the family though."
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