Dee delight for Varian with El Drama

French Derby likely to be preferred over Epsom.

Roger Varian  was delighted to see El Drama  emerge as a potential Classic contender following a clear-cut victory in the tote+ Biggest Dividends At tote.co.uk Dee Stakes at Chester.

EL DRAMA winning the tote+ Biggest Dividends At tote.co.uk Dee Stakes (Listed)
EL DRAMA winning the tote+ Biggest Dividends At tote.co.uk Dee Stakes (Listed) Picture: Pat Healy Photography

A field of seven three-year-olds went to post for the recognised Derby trial, with El Drama sixth in the betting at 12-1 on what was just his second start on turf.

Since that successful debut on soft ground at Doncaster, the Lope De Vega colt had finished third in successive races on the all-weather, but took his game to new heights on the Roodee.

After tracking the pacesetting favourite Yibir for much of the extended 10-furlong journey, El Drama was pushed into the lead rounding the home turn by Andrea Atzeni and he stayed on well to score by a length.

Maximal made late gains to fill the runner-up spot, with Earlswood third and Yibir fading into fourth place

El Drama and Andrea Atzeni win The tote+ Biggest Dividends At tote.co.uk Dee Stakes
El Drama and Andrea Atzeni win The tote+ Biggest Dividends At tote.co.uk Dee Stakes Picture: Pat Healy Photography

Varian said: "I'm very pleased with that today. He's always shown masses at home and we were trying to funnel him into being a 2000 Guineas contender.

"Because he only ran once at two there were limited options trying to get experience into him. He ran over seven furlongs at Lingfield and a mile at Kempton, which wouldn't be ideal spots for him. He ran with credit, but always looked a better horse on turf.

"He didn't run well enough to take in a Guineas, but this was a nice alternative plan. We thought he'd stay 10 furlongs well and that he'd be better back on grass.

"I'm delighted that he's done that today as we always thought him capable of something like that.

"It's good for him to redeem his reputation."

Paddy Power cut El Drama to 16-1 from 66-1 in what is an increasingly murky Derby market, with Bolshoi Ballet and Mohaafeth joint-favourites at 5-1 and High Definition pushed out to 7-1 after being ruled out of his intended prep run at Lingfield this weekend.

However, Varian raised the French Derby as a viable alternative to next month's premier Classic at Epsom for his colt.

"Having spoken to Sheikh Obaid, all options are open and he'd like him to be considered for the Prix du Jockey Club," the trainer added.

"He's a very strong work horse, but I thought if Andrea switched him off today, the fact you are always on the turn helps them relax.

"I'm glad he's won today – it's given us food for thought."


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