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Elmalka swoops late for Guineas glory

A fast-finishing third in the Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury on just her second start, the daughter of Kingman was again doing her strongest work late stepping up to a mile in the hands of former champion jockey Silvestre De Sousa.

It was French raider Ramatuelle who looked to have sealed the deal for Christopher Head as Aurelien Lemaitre made his move for home entering the dip, but the 9-2 second favourite was helpless as the closers descended on her in the final 50 yards, Elmalka finishing strongest of all to strike at odds of 28-1, with Donnacha O’Brien’s Porta Fortuna coming through for second.

As well as a first Classic on his home patch for Varian, it was a first British Classic for Brazilian De Sousa as he marked his comeback season to UK racing in style.

Varian said: “It’s not a surprise because I wouldn’t have run her if I didn’t think she’d 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 green as grass. Credit to James Doyle as he gave her a super ride that day, he got an education into her and she finished strong. I felt in another 100 yards she might have been a length and a half winner as she was just taking off.

“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.

“She looked fantastic and she’d worked well. I was in two minds whether to run her as I wanted to do the right thing by the filly, but that’s why we’re here right, to have a go.

He went on: “I was thinking at halfway we weren’t really handling the track, but the further we went I thought she was coming into it, in the dip I thought we’d get a place and in the final 100 yards I did think we’d get there.

“It’s very special to train a Guineas winner for Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum, who has supported me all my career and supported Michael Jarvis before me. She’s a homebred filly out of Nahrain, who was my first Group One winner in the first year I trained, winning the Prix de l’Opera.

“I’m delighted for the owner and the team at home who put in so much hard work. It’s a team effort, these things don’t happen by accident and it’s a huge thrill, it hasn’t sunk in.

“You can’t be labelled just as a Leger winner, you need something with a bit of speed, so I’m delighted to have won a Guineas.

“James Doyle will ride the majority of mine when available, unfortunately for James his first priority is with Wathnan Racing and he’s in France today riding for them. Silvestre is not a bad substitute.”

De Sousa said: “I’ve been riding nice horses in the morning for Roger and in the afternoon as well and I’m just delighted with the opportunities that have been given to me.

“I’ve been working hard behind the scenes and I’m still able to do it. I’ve just been working hard and said we’d see how the season goes.

“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.”

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