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Juddmonte International hope Elarqam heads powerful Johnston team at York

Mark Johnston is looking forward to taking the £75,000 gamble of adding Elarqam to the field for next week's Group 1 Juddmonte International at York.

It will be just his second runner in the £1 million race, which has never had a northern-trained winner in its 47-year history.

However, the trainer is happy to supplement Hamdan Al Maktoum's four-year-old, who comfortably beat last Saturday's Rose Of Lancaster Stakes winner Addeybb in the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes over next Wednesday's course and distance when last seen.

"Provided the horse is fine on Thursday morning he'll be supplemented and he looks great at the moment," Johnston said. "It's the same course and distance, the form is working out really well so everything is right.

"We've won a Group 2 and we've got to try to win a Group 1 now, make him a stallion."

Elarqam, who has come back to form this season after a winless 2018, is a best-priced 8-1 for the International, a race in which Johnston had Bijou D'Inde finish third in 1996.

Johnston said: "He was unbeaten as a two-year-old, the wheels came off as a three-year-old and we had a lot of issues. His form was pretty good but later in the year things went downhill so it's great he's back to his best.

"We're going there hopeful but I think his odds are realistic, though we don't know what we're up against yet." 

The prolific King's Advice is favourite for the £1m Sky Bet Ebor, in which he could be joined by two stablemates as Johnston bids to emulate the success of his 1993 winner Quick Ransom.

"King's Advice is an absolutely astonishing horse but I've won the Ebor once and I never underestimate how difficult it is," the trainer said. "I've had no end of disappointments in it but he's the right horse, he keeps doing it and we'll keep trying until the bubble bursts. It's possible that another 4lb means the handicapper has got him but you don't know until you try.

On his other runners for the valuable handicap, Johnston added: "Baghdad is certain to run. He's maybe a bit small for the Ebor because it's such a rough race but he's there on merit.

"Communique is a possible. He disappointed in Germany on Sunday, albeit he wasn't beaten far. He bashed his head in the stalls quite badly, to the point that Joe Fanning said he thought of pulling him up in the first two furlongs. It hit him hard at the time but he's home now and he's fine apart from a few grazes on the head."

Gold Cup and Goodwood Cup second Dee Ex Bee is a "possible" for a third crack at Stradivarius in the Weatherbys Hamilton Cup.

Johnston said: "We've got long-term targets of the Doncaster Cup and Prix du Cadran but he's very well – and if we don't take on Stradivarius, who will? He's a very difficult horse to beat but you can't run away from him."

Ascot winner Kingbrook is a probable for the Tattersalls Acomb Stakes, but promising two-year-old Raffle Prize, twice successful at Group 2 level this season, is likely to run in the Prix Morny on Sunday rather than tackle the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes.

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