Beaten but unbowed: Johnston eyeing Group 1 compensation for 'unlucky' Elarqam
It cost £75,000 to find out but connections of Juddmonte International third Elarqam were left in little doubt they have a genuine Group 1 performer after a career-best performance in what turned out to be a slightly messy race.
The status quo in the Juddmonte is for the runners to track across to the middle in the home straight but instead Donnacha O’Brien on leader Circus Maximus stuck tight to the inside rail, which led to some congestion in the closing stages with Elarqam arguably most inconvenienced inside the final furlong.
"We felt we were unlucky," said trainer Mark Johnston having watched the son of Classic winners Frankel and Attraction finish with purpose when finally in the clear.
"He was keen in behind early on and, in hindsight, if we'd made more use early on then it might have been a different result but you would also have expected them to have come across into the middle to leave him an opportunity in the straight and he never really got that."
The finances will perhaps not be towards the forefront of owner Sheikh Hamdan's mind, despite ending in profit with £114,325 for finishing third, and Elarqam will soon be chasing further Group 1 riches according to Johnston.
"It's frustrating but certainly confirms beyond any doubt he's that class, which is reassuring," said the trainer. "We also saw today that he gets every inch of that trip and could get further, whereas we've had some doubt in the past. We may be looking at mile and a half races in the future."
Elarqam's rider Jim Crowley confirmed to the stewards he was denied a clear run in the final furlong, while Donnacha O’Brien was cautioned for an early manoeuvre that left Crystal Ocean short of room as he sent Circus Maximus to the front.
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