Fresh start for Darain as 3.5m guineas buy begins US campaign

Horse Racing Darain
Darain, the most expensive yearling sold at auction in Europe in 2018, is set to make US debut. Photo: Qatar Racing

By Jon Lees

USA: Darain, the most expensive yearling sold in Europe in 2018, is set to relaunch his career on Friday at Fair Grounds, New Orleans, where he will make his debut for Brad Cox.

The four-year-old colt, who cost 3.5 million guineas at auction when he was knocked down to David Redvers on behalf of Qatar Racing, has been declared to run in a $40,000 optional claimer over 1m1f on turf.

Darain, who remains in the ownership of Qatar Racing and his breeders Watership Down Stud, will run on Lasix for the first time under jockey Florent Geroux as an 8-1 morning-line chance in a 13-runner field. He is not available to be claimed.

The full-brother of champion two-year-old Too Darn Hot was unraced at two for former trainer John Gosden but won his first two starts last year, a Newbury maiden and Newmarket novice over 1m2f, before moving up in grade and distance for the G2 Great Voltigeur Stakes, in which he was fifth of eight. He had one more run in the G3 Darley Stakes, finishing seventh in first-time blinkers.

“Darain looked very impressive early on,” said Redvers, racing manager to Qatar Racing. “Quite a few Dubawis handle dirt very well and the American style of racing and John Gosden felt it was worth a try.

“We want to start him quietly to give him confidence. He stepped up very markedly and very quickly and he certainly seems to be pleasing Brad very much.”

Redvers continued: “Having looked hugely exciting here, he then didn’t really progress. It was very much Mr Gosden’s suggestion that racing Stateside might see a marked improvement.”

Qatar Racing, the racing arm of Sheikh Fahad Al Thani and his brothers, has sent a number of horses who have not hit the heights in Britain to the US where the superior prize-money offers a better chance of some return on their original outlay. Darain earned £9,004 from four starts in Britain.

“It’s very much the tack taken by several of the big operations now whereby if you’ve got to look after the bottom line and run a business that wipes its face then keeping four-year-olds in training in the UK that are not going to be hitting the board in the best races is a folly,” said Redvers. 

“Hence we have decided to send a few of our older horses out there, where we have them with Brad, Brendan Walsh and Simon Callaghan.”

Darain went through the Tattersalls sale ring three days before Too Darn Hot rounded off an unbeaten juvenile campaign with a sparkling win in the Dewhurst Stakes. Too Darn Hot didn’t make it to the 2,000 Guineas and after three defeats rediscovered his best form to win two more G1s, the Prix Jean Prat and Sussex Stakes, which proved his final start.

“Darain looked extremely good value when Too Darn Hot screamed up in the Dewhurst,” said Redvers. “Our operation is all about finding the next stallion and at that stage he looked very much that type of horse.

“He was slightly a victim of a Covid year in that he should have started in a quiet place early on and built through the ranks. In the end the season was halfway gone by the time he had his debut so we had to go quite quickly.”

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