herald

Monday 5 December 2016

Dermot on the double

Weld's Harzand can repeat Epsom heroics at the Curragh despite some slight concerns

Harzand can record an English/Irish Derby double. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire
Harzand can record an English/Irish Derby double. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire
Harzand’s trainer Dermot Weld. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Fresh from notching up his milestone 4,000th winner at Naas on Wednesday evening, Dermot Weld is set to notch up another signficant landmark in his illustrious career by saddling Harzand to do the English/Irish Derby double.

It has been a turbulent few days for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, with Harzand and US Army Ranger flip-flopping favourites earlier in the week. But US Army Ranger's withdrawal has brought Ranger's Ballydoyle stable companion, Idaho, to a very prominent place in the betting.

The market has levelled out now and Harzand is a clear odds-on favourite and very likely to jump off in the Derby as the market leader with Idaho next in line.

Harzand's foot issues prior to Epsom have been well documented and this week Weld has made no secret of his concerns about the race coming a week too soon for his stable star but with US Army Ranger, an unlucky runner-up at Epsom for some people, now an absentee, the same confidence doesn't seem to surround the prospect of Idaho reversing the form.

That said, the ground will be much better than when the pair met in the Ballysax Stakes and Harzand came out on top. According to O'Brien, that will suit his colt, and Idaho may have been a shade unlucky behind Moonlight Magic in the Derrinstown, but Harzand is solid.

Connections

He has done little wrong this season and in all reality, while the close proximity of Epsom is undoubtedly a concern for connections, he is a Derby winner that wouldn't have been risked had they had fears that he wasn't 100 per cent right.

A final decision regarding his preparation will be made tomorrow morning but Harzand will appeal to many at 10/11.

Outside of an intriguing renewal of the Irish Derby, Sunday's Sea The Stars Pretty Polly Stakes will see top-class filly Minding make a swift return to action following her Oaks winning exploits. A winner at Epsom earlier in the month despite not enjoying the cleanest of passages in the race, Minding will be hoping to go one better than her narrow defeat to Jet Setting in the Irish 1,000 Guineas at HQ last month.

On a smaller scale across at Newcastle, the Northumberland Plate will be run on the all-weather for the first time, but it will still undoubtedly be a massive betting heat.

A few that finished behind Jennies Jewel in the Ascot Stakes last week are turning out again, but it is 10/1 shot Polarisation that stands out.

Charlie Appleby will be keen to continue the good run of form for the Godolphin team and his four-year-old looks to have a good chance of doing so following his decent effort at Epsom last month.

Jockey Fran Berry can take the Northumberland Vase consolation on Poyle Thomas.

Irish derby live tomorrow rté 1 5.20

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