Sunday 23 October 2016

Zawraq looks to be winning fitness battle for Derby

Zawraq is reported to have made "substantial improvement" in his race against time to be fit for the Investec Derby at Epsom on Saturday.

Dermot Weld's unbeaten colt is among the leading fancies for the premier Classic, but after completing a satisfactory piece of work on Tuesday morning, he was found to have been slightly lame upon his return to the yard.

Initial X-rays and scans suggested the injury was not serious and his leg has been iced during the last 24 hours. Zawraq engaged in light exercise yesterday morning, although any decision on his Derby participation is unlikely to made until later today at the earliest.

Angus Gold, racing manager for owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, said: "I have just spoken to Mr Weld and, in his words, the horse is 80 per cent better than he was this time yesterday.

"They've taken him out this morning and he's walking sound.

"Leigh Roche, who has done most of the work on him, trotted him and he thought he felt 100 per cent. The vet was there and he said he could see he was still feeling it little bit, but there has certainly been substantial improvement and it's a step in the right direction.

"They will now continue with the icing and he will be X-rayed again and rescanned this afternoon, just to check nothing more sinister has come to light.

"As long as they are clear and as long as he's sound, he'll have a good canter tomorrow morning with Pat Smullen aboard and how he comes out of that will obviously be crucial.

"I think he'll probably canter around 8am, then they'll have to leave him an hour to cool down and then they'll see how he is.

"Being positive, if he canters and everything is fine, I would imagine he'll be declared."

William Buick remains hopeful Jack Hobbs can at least close the gap on Golden Horn in the Derby, having been put in his place by his stable companion in the Dante at York last month.

Buick was aboard Golden Horn on the Knavesmire, with Frankie Dettori riding Jack Hobbs, but the two leading jockeys switch places this weekend with Jack Hobbs having subsequently been snapped up by Buick's retaining owners Godolphin.

"I was very happy with Jack Hobbs at Epsom the other day at Breakfast With The Stars.

"He's a lovely horse, a lovely individual and I thought he handled the track pretty well," the jockey said.

"I'm very aware that Golden Horn is the main danger, but if I was riding Golden Horn, I would also say Jack Hobbs was the main danger."

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