French Derby looks set to be next on Elarqam's agenda

MARK Johnston feels the French Derby at Chantilly is the 'obvious' choice for Elarqam's next race.

Elarqam, ridden by Jim Crowley, seen winning the Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket last September (Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire).

The colt lost his unbeaten record when fourth in the Qipco 2000 Guineas on Saturday to Aidan O’Brien’s Saxon Warrior, the favourite for next month’s Epsom Derby.

“A lot of people were saying he ran a great race. He ran well, but you can never be over the moon with fourth, the same as you can never be over the moon with second,” said the Middleham handler.

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“Three out he was travelling as well as anything and it looked like he might win it. When Jim (Crowley) asked him to go there was a bit of a delay and he lost a bit of ground then.

“He was making up ground close to the line hand over fist. The first reaction was that he needs to step up in trip, but if you ran it again you would expect him to come on for the race.

“I think the positive thing we established is that he is a Group One horse, no doubt at all. It is Group Ones for the foreseeable future. I think we will need to look at those two races, but I think the obvious choice is probably the French Derby. It’s a mile and a quarter race that is often won by sharp horses.”

Enable will be out of action until August at the earliest after suffering a setback, connections have anounced.

John Gosden’s brilliant filly enjoyed a fantastic campaign in 2017, winning five consecutive Group One events culminating with the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

A successful defence of the Arc is the top priority, but it is unclear whether owner Prince Khalid Abdullah’s equine superstar will be fit to line up at York’s Ebor Festival in August. His racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe, who is also York’s chairman, said: “Given reasonable circumstances she should be ready to run in August as a preparation for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.”

North Yorkshire jump jockey Brian Hughes has, as expected, become number one rider to resurgent Cheshire trainer Donald McCain.

He hopes this will give him the firepower needed to launch a sustained challenge to be champion jockey.

However, he still hopes to ride for existing trainers like Malton’s Ruth Jefferson, who provided Hughes with a landmark Grade One win when Waiting Patiently won the Ascot Chase in February.