Saturday 22 October 2016

Harzand class to seal double

Weld colt should become sixth colt since turn of century to win the Epsom and Curragh Derbies

Harzand. Photo: Sportsfile
Harzand. Photo: Sportsfile

Providing there is no cruel twist of faith this morning, the Epsom Derby winner Harzand will make the very short trip across the road from Rosewell House to the Curragh to try and claim the 151st running of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Of course, connections of Harzand know by now to take absolutely nothing for granted as the last time he left Rosewell House to run in a Derby he was fine but by the time he got there things were very different.

Surely, the odds of another problem that could prevent him from running this evening are very long, but we continually see, in every walk of life, that anything can happen.


What isn't that rare is a colt to do the Epsom and Curragh double. Harzand will look to become the sixth since the turn of the century and the long and the short of this year's Irish Derby really revolves around him.

The foot issue that so nearly ruled him out of the English Derby obviously needed due care and attention afterwards. Although Dermot Weld admitted he would have preferred another week for the colt before he raced again, if he or any of his team weren't happy with him, we wouldn't have even seen him in Thursday's declarations.

The defection of US Army Ranger is a blow to the race but Epsom runners Idaho, Red Verdon and Moonlight Magic have all been the subject of some confidence from their respective connections.

Harzand is a class act, however, and should prove that this evening.

Speaking yesterday, Weld said: "He's been out this morning and we're satisfied with him.

"It's been well documented that I'd have preferred another week, but the intention is to run," he continued.

"He is very tough and courageous, which is why we are even talking about running him.

"I'm satisfied he is perfectly sound.

"But he's a horse who'll meet you halfway, he'll go more than halfway to meet you in fact, and that's the big plus.

"The Derby is the Derby and these three-year-olds tend to improve at this time of year, which is why it is exciting.

"People say the three-year-olds are sub-standard in the spring, but they haven't been judged by then, they are improving horses."

There is also Group One action at the Curragh tomorrow when Minding is going to be the undoubted star on show.

A dual Classic winner already this season, the Aidan O'Brien-trained filly was touched off by Jet Setting when looking to complete the Guineas double at the Curragh last month.


Minding bounced back to win the Epsom Oaks in good style, considering she didn't have the clearest passage during that race, and tomorrow's Sea The Stars Pretty Polly Stakes would look an ideal opportunity for her to add another Group One to her name.

Also on Sunday, Aidan O'Brien has declared two Royal Ascot winners, Sir Isaac Newton and Sword Fighter.

Sir Isaac Newton will try to follow up his win in the Wolferton Hanidcap when taking part in the Group Three International Stakes, while in the Group Two Curragh Cup, Sword Fighter is joined by stable companion Landofhopeandglory.

Ryan Moore's booking on Landofhopeandglory would suggest that connections feel he can reverse the form with his stable companion from the Queen's Vase last week in which he caused a 33/1 shock under Colm O'Donoghue.

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