Eldar Eldarov on the Road to Recovery

One of the most worrying moments at the 2024 Dubai World Cup meeting came ahead of the signature event for the stayers, the two-mile Dubai Gold Cup. Sitting second in the market at 7/2, Roger Varian’s Eldar Eldarov was well fancied to go close to landing another famous success. In the end, his race was over before the stalls opened.

Becoming uncharacteristically upset during the loading up process, the five-year-old reared up and crashed his head into the stall frame – a rare but not unheard of pre-race incident, and one which usually leaves the horse relatively unscathed. Eldar Eldarov wasn’t so lucky, as it quickly became clear that the colt was in significant distress.

Thanks to the swift actions of connections and staff at the track, Eldar Eldarov was given every chance – immediately being transported to the Dubai Equine Hospital. Nevertheless, the initial prognosis made for grim reading, with the neck injuries sustained by the good-looking bay having potentially fatal consequences.

No Expense Spared in Treatment

Despite the depressing outlook, Eldar Eldarov’s owner, Sheikh Khalid, wasn’t about to throw in the towel, with the head of KHK Racing Ltd flying in equine neck specialists from the US to ensure his pride and joy had the best shot at recovery.

Happily, two months after his neck operation, this story is on the road to a happy ending, with Eldar Eldarov back on his feet and undertaking gentle exercise. He will never race again, but all being well, he will now enjoy a long and productive life as a stallion. Here, we look back at the racing highlights of the popular stayer and ahead to his potential career at stud.

Racing Career: Group 1 Staying Star

Wasting little time displaying his considerable talent, Eldar Eldarov made a flying start to life at the track with an effortless five-length romp at Nottingham on his sole juvenile outing. Looking like a horse to follow during his Classic campaign, he kept up the good work with a strong finishing effort to score over 1m2f at Newcastle before thrusting his name into the St Leger conversation with a thrilling last-gasp effort to grab Queen’s Vase Glory at Royal Ascot.

Then came a first career defeat as, for whatever reason, the mount of David Egan performed way below his best in the Grand Prix de Paris. Was it the drop in trip to 1m4f which caused the subpar display? Or was the horse simply not up to Group 1 level? We found out the answer to those questions at Doncaster.

Triumph on Town Moor

Despite that blip at Longchamp, Eldar Eldarov was well fancied to bounce back on Town Moor, with only the Godolphin runner New London ahead of him in the betting market – and bounce back he did.

Victory didn’t look particularly likely midway up the home straight, with David Egan hard at work in the saddle, sitting third last, and around five lengths off the lead. However, it takes stamina to land a Leger. Once Eldar Eldarov began to roll, he produced a relentless, withering run down the outside to mow them all down – ultimately scoring by a comortable two lengths – a big moment for Roger Varian, who bagged the St Leger for a second time, and an even more significant result for Egan, who claimed a first Classic success.

Leger Specialist?

Despite that impressive Doncaster performance, Eldar Eldarov failed to win any of his next four starts – bombing out in the British Champions Long Distance Cup on his final start at three and missing out in the Yorkshire Cup, the Gold Cup, and the Goodwood Cup on his first three starts as a four-year-old.

However, if we discount that unfortunate incident out in Meydan, the horse did at least end his racing career on a high, with his final start coming in the 2023 edition of the Irish St Leger at the Curragh.

Pitched in against the promising Dawn Rising and four-time Group 1 winner, Kyprios, Eldar Eldarov looked to have his work cut out on paper. What followed was possibly the most visually impressive performance of his career, as he comfortably dispatched the field, with Aidan O’Brien’s Kyprios left trailing in his wake.

With Kyrpios now the red-hot favourite for the 2024 Ascot Gold Cup, Eldar Eldarov appeared well-placed to add to his haul. Sadly, we will never see the horse in action again, but we should at least have his progeny to look forward to.

Huge Potential at Stud

Sired by one of the leading sires of the 21st century in Dubawi and out of a three-time Listed-winning mare by the great Sea The Stars, Eldar Eldarov had everything in place on paper to hit the heights at the track. The fact that he now backed up his page with racecourse performance seems sure to make him a popular choice at stud.

For breeders looking to tap into the Dubawi/Sea The Stars dam combo, we suspect he will immediately hurtle towards the top of the list. At the time of writing, his only competition in this niche is provided by Almighwar, who scored at no higher than Class 5 level. Fingers crossed, his recovery continues on the right path and, who knows, we may see an Eldar Eldarov-sired runner lining up in an English or Irish St Leger in the not-too-distant future.