Feature Story

Doyle desperate to deliver Elmalka Group 1 double

Doyle desperate to deliver Elmalka Group 1 double Jun 19, 2024

By Sam Turner - 

Fresh from beginning Royal Ascot in a blaze of glory, trainer Roger Varian is already targeting a second Group 1 of the meeting in Friday’s Coronation Stakes.

The Newmarket handler wasted little time getting on the scoresheet on day one with Charyn in the Queen Anne Stakes and the Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum-owned Elmalka bids to add to that success in the fillies’ mile feature.

A dramatic winner of the 1000 Guineas under man-of-the-moment Silvestre De Sousa, Elmalka will bid to become the sixth horse to win at Newmarket and follow up at Ascot.

The absence of the Irish 1000 Guineas winner Fallen Angel, who was ruled out at the weekend, eases her path somewhat, but Elmalka faces stiff opposition nevertheless in a field of ten, which includes three challengers from Ireland and two from France.

De Sousa brought Elmalka from last to first at Newmarket for a shock 28-1 win over Porta Fortuna and Ramatuelle in a three-way photo, but James Doyle resumes in the saddle and is keen to make up for missing out.

Doyle, who had commitments with Wathnan Racing at Newmarket, said: “I rode Elmalka in her first race of the season, the Fred Darling at Newbury, and she ran a really good race in third, looking a bit unlucky as she got trapped on that stands’ rail.

“Sylvester rode her in the Guineas, when I was required in France, and she clearly bounded forward for the run at Newbury. It was obviously hard missing out on a Classic win, but there will always be days like that and you just have to take the rough with the smooth.

“Elmalka is a hard one to gauge as she obviously saves all of her best for the track. Her work at home is workmanlike, but that’s just her. She looks great and she’s done well physically since the Guineas, where it probably helped being out the back with the other main contenders at the finish. I think the track and the race will suit her.”

Varian confirms everything has gone to plan since the Guineas. He said: “We weren't tempted to go to Ireland, as she’d had two fairly quick runs, and she’s training lovely. She looks great and she seems to be getting stronger. She’s not a flashy worker, but I don’t mind that.

“She was a bit green at Newbury, and arguably at Newmarket too, but she’s looking a bit more complete now and there’s no reason to think Ascot’s round mile won’t suit. We are excited about running her.”