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Dark Horses for the 2021 Series: Part 2

5 Feb 2021

In the second of a four-part series looking at dark horses for this year’s QIPCO British Champions Series, we focus on a pair of colts who are at present under the radar for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 1.

ARATUS

Trainer: Clive Cox. Form: 21

Clive Cox has enjoyed great QIPCO British Champions Series success with sprinters but he’s no one-trick pony. It will be fascinating to see how he campaigns Aratus.

He shaped like the best horse in the race when runner-up to Oo De Lally on his debut over 7f at Newbury in September. He confirmed that promise when not being extended to go one better by more than three lengths from Ilza’eem in a 14-runner maiden at Kempton on early November.

There is some substance to his form with Oo De Lally since winning twice more and boasting an official rating of 96. While Ilza’eem subsequently got to within half a length of Charlie Appleby’s promising Royal Fleet in another Kempton maiden.

Aratus looks very favourably handicapped off a rating of 89 – for example Ilza’eem is rated the same as him – and perhaps Cox will look to exploit that mark before raising his sights. If he were to make a mockery of that mark in the spring, then a tilt at the Guineas might be hard to resist.

EL DRAMA

Trainer: Roger Varian. Form: 1

Roger Varian has any number of intriguing three-year-olds for 2021. El Drama definitely looking one to keep a close eye on.

A 425,000gns purchase, he made his debut six days after QIPCO British Champions Day last year in a ten-runner maiden over 7f at Doncaster.

The market spoke in his favour – he went off 10/11 favourite – and despite showing signs of inexperience he got the job done. That was at the main expense of Colonel Falkner and Kaheall, who have both since won at least once.

El Drama will get a mile standing on his head and is open to any amount of improvement. He is available at 40/1 for the Guineas and the 66/1quote against him landing the Derby is worth a second look because he is half-brother of Volume. Her exploits in 2014 included finishing a close third in the Oaks and Irish equivalent.

A wet year would probably help him as the sire of his stock, Lope De Vega, excel in soft ground.