herald

Monday 5 December 2016

Harzand looks like a chip off the old block

Pat Smullen celebrates winning the Irish Derby on Harzand. Picture credit: Sportsfile
Pat Smullen celebrates winning the Irish Derby on Harzand. Picture credit: Sportsfile

"Harzand popular for the Prix d'Arc."

That was the subject of an email sent out by Hayley O'Connor, the Public Relations and Communications Manager of bookmakers Ladbrokes. And why wouldn't he be popular.

The dual Derby winner had his odds for the Arc shortened from 7/1 into 6/1 and there is an argument to suggest that Harzand possibly should even be favourite, but holding down that position at the moment is Postponed and in fairness to him his recent form has been rock solid and his ability to handle any ground is proven.

But Harzand has broke down the barrier of English Derby glory for Dermot Weld and it would be no surprise if he does the same in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Harzand is still being slight underestimated but there are a number of factors that shouldn't be ignored.

Dual Derby winners are rare. We've had 151 Irish Derbys and only 18 of them had previously won at Epsom.

It is well documented at this stage that Harzand had a nightmare preparation for Epsom and despite surely not being fully comfortable he still managed to win the most prestigious race on the calendar.

Epsom took it's toll and had the Irish Derby not been on his doorstep there's a good chance he wouldn't have run.

Harzand had an opportunity to concede defeat to Idaho when the pair eye-balled each other in the closing stages but despite the race coming a week too soon, Harzand dug deep again and went on to win again.

Dermot Weld hasn't trained over 4,000 winners against the likes of Vincent and Aidan O'Brien for no reason and he is fully aware of the magnitude of what his colt has achieved in a relatively small space of time with a far from routine time of things since he departed Rosewell House for Epsom earlier this month. Harzand won his maiden in March so it has been a fair rise.

Unbeaten since that emphatic victory at Cork (had a Royal Ascot listed and subsequent Group Two winner winner 16-lengths back in second) Harzand is only going one way and there is no reason to suggest that he has reached his peak.

Freakish

And finally, don't forget that Harzand is a son of the legendary Sea The Stars. Sea The Stars certainly isn't under appreciated but maybe at times the fact that Frankel, another freakish racehorse, came around so shortly after him, sometimes can overshadow how good Sea The Stars was.

Harzand isn't another Sea The Stars but he has certainly inherited many of his qualities. The class is undoubted, the determination and courage is blatantly obvious and with a little ease in the ground, maybe the Arc might follow.

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