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Five new kids on the Champions Series block for 2021

4 Jan 2021

Which two-year-olds from 2020 are going to make a name for themselves in the QIPCO British Champions Series this year?

We’ve identified a horse to look out for in each category of the Series that could make a splash in 2021

SPRINT

Horse: SUPREMACY

Trainer: Clive Cox

Clive Cox is a dab hand with top sprinters, having guided the careers of Lethal Force, Harry Angel and Golden Horde in recent years. He has another exciting speedster on his hands for 2021 in Supremacy.

The son of Mehmas signed off last season with an all-the-way victory in the Group 1 Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket, in September, keeping on resolutely to repel Lucky Vega by half a length. The pair finished nicely clear and the form has substance with the runner-up already having won at the highest level.

Winning jockey Adam Kirby described Supremacy as a “warrior” afterwards and had also been on board for his previous wins in July, when he landed the Group 2 Qatar Richmond Stakes at Goodwood in commanding style by four lengths plus a maiden at Windsor.

It will be a surprise if connections are tempted to look beyond six furlongs for Supremacy, who is quoted between 7-1 and 12-1 for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in June. Golden Horde landed that prize for Cox last summer, while Harry Angel finished runner-up in the 2017 edition.

MILE

Horse: THUNDER MOON

Trainer: Joseph O’Brien

The open nature of the first race in next year’s QIPCO British Champions Series, the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, is reflected by the bookmakers offering 10/1 the field.

Some layers made Thunder Moon half those odds after his dazzling success in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh in mid-September. Supplemented for the Group 1 contest after a taking debut win at the same course the previous month, he showed a superb turn of foot to overcame trouble in running and win in decisive style from deep opposition.

Thunder Moon won at the main expense of Wembley and St Mark’s Basilca on that occasion but could not confirm his superiority on soft going in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket the following month. He travelled strongly but his finishing kick seemed blunted by the testing ground, and rivals he had previously beaten outstayed him.

The Zoffancy colt appeals as the type to train on well and, granted quicker ground, more big races seem certain to fall his way. He remains worthy of any Guineas shortlist.

MIDDLE DISTANCE

Horse: HIGH DEFINITION

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

High Definition produced one of the most taking displays of 2020 when winning the Group 2 Alan Smurfit Memorial Beresford Stakes at the Curragh in late September.

Anchored in rear by Seamie Heffernan in a steadily-run race, he still had about a dozen rivals to overhaul when pushed along three out in the mile feature. However, he stayed on relentlessly and ended up winning going away by three quarters of a length from the useful Monaasib.

The Galileo colt had shown similar qualities when winning on his debut at the same track the previous month.

Aidan O’Brien pulled up stumps with High Definition after the Beresford, perhaps not surprising given the shift he put in plus the fact that his physique and pedigree point to him doing even better as a three-year-old.

Bred for middle distances, High Definition is the general 7-1 favourite to give Aidan O’Brien a ninth Derby triumph. One niggle is that he has yet to race away from soft going, but there is no disguising that he is an exciting colt for the year ahead.

FILLIES & MARES

Horse: INDIGO GIRL

Trainer: John Gosden

John Gosden and owner/breeder George Strawbridge combined to win the 2016 Fillies & Mares Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day with Journey. It would not be the biggest surprise if that horse’s sister, Indigo Girl, emerged as a leading contender for the same race in 2021.

Indigo Girl has clearly inherited plenty of ability and, like Journey, was equipped with a hood for her three runs last year. She made a winning start against four rivals over a mile on soft ground at Yarmouth and then, just 11 days later, scooped the bet365 May Hill Stakes on a much quicker surface at Doncaster at the main expense of Dubai Fountain.

The following month she enhanced her reputation further, beating all bar Pretty Gorgeous in the Group 1 bet365 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket. She went down by only half a length to a more experienced rival who already had top form to her name.

Pretty Gorgeous is ante-post favourite for the QIPCO 1000 Guineas, with Indigo Girl quoted at between 8/1 and 14/1. A more obvious Classic for Indigo Girl, though, is the Oaks at Epsom in June, for which she is available at 16/1. Her breeding and early exploits point to a mile and a half suiting well.

LONG DISTANCE

Horse: MAC SWINEY

Trainer: Jim Bolger

It is very early to be talking about William Hill St Leger candidates but Mac Swiney’s career as a two-year-old in 2020 point to him relishing stamina tests this year.

His reserves of staying power were fully revealed over a mile on soft ground in the Vertem Futurity Stakes at Doncaster in late October. The trip and conditions exposed the limitations of plenty of the runners out but Mac Swiney galloped on stoutly to win by three quarters of a length from One Ruler, the favourite, who had won a Group 3 on his previous start.

Mac Swiney’s previous efforts include two victories at the Curragh, latterly in the Group 2 Galileo Irish EBF Futurity Stakes over 7f, where he muscled his way to the front late on to win at the main expense of Cadilac.

Mac Swiney is a general 20/1 for the Derby, with Unibet, the only firm betting on the St Leger, making him 16/1 favourite for the final Classic of the season.