Newmarket 5.5.24Elmalka © Edward Whitaker/Racing Post PhotosEurope

Elmalka caps a big day for Kingman in the 1000 Guineas

Elmalka produced a thrilling finish in the Gr.1 1000 Guineas on Sunday to give Kingman his first winner of the Classic.

Taken from the Thoroughbred Daily News, 6th May 2024, by Tom Frary:

Like Saturday's 2000 Guineas winner Notable Speech introduced on the all-weather during the winter, Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum's blueblood Elmalka arrived late on the scene to emerge triumphant in the Gr.1 1000 Guineas and cause a second weekend surprise in Newmarket's mile Classics. Coming off her debut success at Southwell in late November to finish a staying-on third in the seven-furlong Gr.3 Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury last month, the Roger Varian-trained daughter of the Gr.1 Prix de l'Opera and Gr.1 Flower Bowl Invitational heroine Nahrain  and half-sister to Benbatl was last and detached early.

Cajoled along by Silvestre De Sousa, the 28-1 shot found some momentum on the wing and with the extra distance to cover powered home to reel in the likely winner Ramatuelle in the last strides to become the second Newmarket-based Guineas winner on the weekend. Porta Fortuna was the surprise package of the race, staying on strongly to get the mile well and oust the French raider in the shade of the post, but the pair had already been overrun by Elmalka who prevailed by a neck from last year's Gr.1 Cheveley Park Stakes heroine, with Ramatuelle perhaps the weakest stayer of the three a short head behind in third. The result represented a notable double on the card for Kingman, with his potentially top-class Friendly Soul having captured the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes.

Recently returned to these shores from Hong Kong, De Sousa was enjoying one of those twists of fate that often accompany these flagship races as he registered a belated Classic breakthrough. "I've been working hard behind the scenes and I'm still able to do it," he said. "It's unbelievable, I've been trying to win a Classic for so long, so it's great to get one. Coming down into the dip I could see the horses in front weren't getting away from me and I hoped when I hit the rising ground she would pick up. She=s still a bit green and inexperienced, but she ran a good race at Newbury and she's just learning. She's really tough and game."

Elmalka, the first in these silks to win this since Ameerat for Roger Varian's old boss Michael Jarvis in 2001, had hardly pulled up trees on the formbook at Southwell in a contest that had not worked out at all but the time figures spoke volumes suggested she had inherited much of her family's ability. Beaten two necks in the Fred Darling by Folgaria and the re-opposing Regal Jubilee with their experience edge, she was just getting going in the closing stages and in hindsight ran the perfect eye-catching trial.

Cut adrift early, the homebred could only really be taken seriously as a contender passing the two-furlong marker, where De Sousa's tender encouragement began to pay dividends as Ramatuelle shook loose. Whether Aurelien Lemaitre went too soon at that point is open to debate, but 100 yards from the line it appeared the race's decisive move and it was only close home that she faltered and was swallowed up. At the line, less than a length covered the first five home, with the fourth and fifth Tamfana and Ylang Ylang running big Diane and Oaks trials.

For Varian, whose first Group 1 win came courtesy of Nahrain at ParisLongchamp in 2009, the result was far from unexpected: "It's not a surprise because I wouldn't have run her if I didn't think she was going to run well, but you don't come into these races thinking you're going to win. She ran a big race at Newbury and she was as green as grass and credit to James Doyle who gave her a super ride that day. He got an education into her and she finished strongly. We weren't set on running in the Guineas that day, but the turnaround in the filly in the last fortnight has been quite incredible."

He added: "It's very special actually to train the winner for His Highness Sheik Ahmed Al Maktoum, who's supported me all of my career and supported Michael Jarvis before me. She's a homebred filly and out of Nahrain who was my first Group 1 winner the first year I trained, winning the Prix de l'Opera. You can't get more special than that. But it's a team effort and these things don't happen by accident. It's a huge thrill and it hasn't quite sunk in."