Harzand (right): faces Idaho (blue and orange) again in Irish Derby
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Tony O’Hehir 9:06AM 25 JUN 2016
HARZAND, the Investec Derby hero, will cross the road from Dermot Weld’s Rosewell House stables alongside the Curragh racecourse this afternoon to try to become the 18th horse to complete the Epsom-Irish Derby double when he faces eight rivals in the Dubai Duty Free-sponsored Classic.
The Aga Khan-owned colt was involved in a drama on the morning of the Derby three weeks ago when he spread a plate en route to Epsom and needed a foot iced and constant monitoring before being given the go-ahead to run.
All ended well when the son of Sea The Stars gave his trainer and jockey Pat Smullen a first win in the Epsom Classic. However, the effects of the pre-race scare and the race itself cast some doubts on his participation today and Weld this week expressed reservations about the colt, who had to be treated with antibiotics when he returned from Epsom, making the line-up.
However, Weld, who confirmed Harzand a runner on Thursday, said yesterday: “He’s had a good week and I’m very happy with him. We’ve had a few showers here on the Curragh and we might get more, which would suit.”
The going at the track eased slightly to good to yielding, having been good to yielding, good in places on the round course following two millimetres of rain overnight.
Idaho leads O’Brien challenge
With Derby runner-up US Army Ranger an absentee, Idaho heads a team of four from Ballydoyle as Aidan O’Brien bids to win the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby for a 12th time.
The mount of Ryan Moore, who has yet to win the Curragh Classic, Idaho has work to do if he is to get the better of Harzand, who has beaten him on the two previous occasions they have met.
Runner-up to the Dermot Weld-trained colt in the Group 3 Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown in April, Idaho was then two and three-quarter lengths behind him when third in the Investec Derby three weeks ago. But O’Brien is hoping Idaho can come out on top today.
He said: “Idaho ran a good race at Epsom and we’ve been happy with him since. We haven’t asked him to do a lot since the Derby but we’ve been happy with his progress and he’s going there in good form. He’s shown himself to be adaptable in terms of ground.”