Elarqam to step up in trip for Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot while Dettori booked to ride Eye Of Heaven

ELARQAM is set to tackle 1m4f for the first time in next week's Hardwicke Stakes.

The son of Frankel was narrowly beaten in the Brigadier Gerard on his comeback at Haydock on Sunday.

He was rallying all the way to the line in that 1m2f contest, just failing to overhaul Lord North by a short-head.

And the Mark Johnston team reckon the extra yardage of the Group 2 will suit – though there is an outside chance of a last-minute switch to the Prince Of Wales's Stakes if that race cuts up.

Charlie Johnston, assistant trainer to dad Mark, said: "We've spoken to Sheikh Hamdan this morning and he is happy leaving things up to us, which is great for him to do.

"At this moment in time Plan A would be the Hardwicke, but we will keep an eye on the Prince of Wales's and see what turns up.

"It will be interesting to see him going up to a mile and a half and there is a strong possibility it will bring out more improvement.

"Obviously it is a slightly shorter than normal turnaround, but we are not too concerned about that for him. He will definitely come forward for the run like he did last year after his comeback in the Earl of Sefton."

Johnston added: "He was only beaten a short-head on Sunday, so it is easy to take the positives out of the race, but at the same time you want to win.

"He was a slight victim of the way things panned out, having to do all the work early on and in hindsight we wish he could have committed early to draw the sting out of them.

"He could have easily folded a furlong out and finished third beaten a few lengths, but once he had the winner in sight, he knuckled down and stayed all the way to the line so it was a good solid run."

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And Johnston confirmed that Frankie Dettori will take the ride aboard impressive Newmarket maiden winner Eye Of Heaven in the Norfolk.

He said:"We are likely to have five first-time-out winners going there and a couple of nice horses that finished second on debut, but you would have to say Eye Of Heaven is the one we are most excited about.

"We thought he was the best one before we started racing again and nothing has changed our minds. He looks the real deal.

"Frankie Dettori has been confirmed to ride him. Wesley Ward could send over something that was like Air Force One and I don't think Frankie would get off this lad."

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