MARK JOHNSTON was left perplexed by the highly-regarded Elarqam’s fourth place finish at Salisbury.
It continues a disappointing run of results for the colt who was unbeaten last season and who who began the season by finishing fourth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Bred to be a superstar as a son of Frankel out of the great racemare Attraction, Middleham-based Johnston – on the cusp of becoming Britain’s winning-most trainer – had been confident of success prior to the prestigious Sovereign Stakes at the Wiltshire track.
Elarqam weakened tamely after making the early running in a mile race won by the French raider Plumatic. “Jim (Crowley) said he was hanging right throughout,” reported Johnston afterwards.
“Something is bothering him as he gets edgy at the start. He walks around the paddock as quiet as a lamb, then he sees those starting stalls and he starts to sweat.
“The early part of the race has gone great, but he just found nothing.
“We will go home and think again.
“We thought the ground was too firm in Ireland and we can’t say it is too soft today.”
The meeting saw Oisin Murphy complete a four-timer as he soared past last year’s season-best tally of 127 winners.
Kew Gardens is among eight Aidan O’Brien-trained possibles for the Sky Bet Voltigeur Stakes at York on Wednesday.
The Grand Prix de Paris winner, unplaced in the Epsom Derby, currently heads the ante-post betting for the William Hill St Leger at Doncaster next month.