ELARQAM (2.40) ran out a clear-cut winner of last year’s Sky Bet York Stakes and an action replay is on the cards.
Mark Johnston raised him in trip when fancied to land the 1m 4f Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and surprisingly, given Elarqam’s stamina doubts, he was ridden aggressively, fading into sixth behind hold-up winner Fanny Logan. Today’s ten furlongs trip is more agreeable and he should have the measure of some smart performers headed by Telecaster.
The Queen’s AWARD SCHEME (2.05) didn’t have much in hand when scoring at Salisbury and an 8lb rise appears fairly severe. However, the front pair drew six lengths clear of the third, while fourth horse Punting won at Sandown on Thursday evening. William Haggas can eke out a little more improvement from the filly, possibly at the main expense of Earth And Sky.
ORBAAN (3.15) was a surprise 25-1 winner over course and distance last time but can prove that was no fluke by defying a penalty. It was only his second start for David O’Meara since arriving from Andre Fabre and Orbaan has clearly settled well into his new surroundings. Richard Fahey’s three-year-old Hartswood requires a market check.
EBURY (2.25) was drawn on the disadvantaged far side of the track when an excellent sixth in the Buckingham Palace Handicap at Royal Ascot but has been a bit luckier with the draw for the Moet & Chandon International. Motakhayyel, winner of the Buckingham Palace, has since scooped the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket, so the form is very solid.
The draw can play a huge part on the straight course and the first four home last year came out of stalls 21-23-27-26.
John Gosden saddles the sole three-year-old in Eshaasy, with 5lb apprentice George Rooke booked to ensure a featherweight. Eshaasy ran a respectable eighth in the Britannia Handicap at the royal fixture and has a favourable high draw.
Likely favourite Blue Mist, third last year, is berthed in stall 19 and will have plenty of supporters.