Mullins says he'll consider French mission for Djakadam
The season may not be over for Djakadam as Willie Mullins is considering sending Djakadam to France after his gallant second for the fourth time in Wednesday's Punchestown Gold Cup.
Having chased home Don Cossack in 2015, Carlingford Lough in 2016 and been narrowly denied by Sizing John 12 months ago, the nine-year-old this time found only stablemate Bellshill too strong.
Djakadam has also twice filled the runner-up spot in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Mullins is hoping he could claim a well-earned top-level success in next month's Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris at Auteuil.
Mullins said: "That was probably his best run this year. I don't know why he didn't hit form (this season). I probably blame myself for running him back too quick at Christmas after he was second in the John Durkan.
"We're half-thinking of going to the Grand Steeple-Chase in Paris. An extra five furlongs. That's a race we'd like to be represented in with good horses.
"Myself and the owner have discussed that plan and we might go down that way."
Across the water, Mark Johnston is keeping his fingers crossed Elarqam can uphold family honour in the 2,000 Guineas tomorrow week.
The three-year-old is certainly bred for the Classic as a son of the brilliant Frankel, which won the 2,000 Guineas seven years ago, out of trainer Johnston's top-class racemare Attraction, which won five Group Ones, including the 1,000 Guineas in 2004.
Elarqam is unbeaten in two starts and while he has not been seen in competitive action since landing the Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket last September, he enjoyed a racecourse gallop over the Rowley Mile at last week's Craven meeting.
Johnston said: "It wasn't exactly a hard piece of work, and he hardly ended up seeing the other two horses, but he needed the experience of a day out and it's a concern for me going into the Guineas with only two runs under his belt. He has to improve, but I have a lot of faith in his ability. And in a lot of ways it's more exciting than it was with Attraction as being by Frankel out of Attraction, he's the best-bred horse I've ever trained, the best-bred horse by a country mile that I've ever taken to a classic."
Johnston reports Elarqam to bear a striking resemblance of his mother, but is not nearly as confident as he was ahead of her bid for Guineas glory. "This is nothing like it was with Attraction when she won the 1,000 Guineas. On that day, I believed that if she stayed, she'd win. At that stage with Attraction, I firmly believed she was the best filly in Europe."
Johnston confirmed Elarqam is likely to be joined in the 2,000 Guineas by stablemate Cardsharp.