Harzand (near): dual Classic winner may head to France for the Prix Niel
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Tony O’Hehir 7:27AM 29 AUG 2016
DERMOT WELD is ready to take the wraps off his dual Derby winner Harzand after an extended summer break and revealed his big Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe hope could bypass the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes and head to France next instead.
Owned and bred by the Aga Khan, Harzand is a top-priced 2-1 favourite for the Leopardstown Group 1 on Saturday week, but Weld warned there would need to be some ease in the ground for the three-year-old to run, with the Prix Niel the day after the Irish Champion an alternative as his final stopping point before the Arc on October 2.
Stablemate Fascinating Rock, a top-priced 13-2, could also miss Leopardstown with Weld not wanting the ground to come up too quick for the Qipco Champion Stakes and Tattersalls Gold Cup winner.
He said on Sunday: “Harzand is very well and the Irish Champion Stakes remains the plan before the Arc. However, it will all depend on the ground at Leopardstown. We could certainly do with some rain as he doesn’t want fast ground.
“We’ll wait and see what the weather does but Harzand is also in the Prix Niel.”
The Prix Niel, run on Arc trials day at Chantilly this year, has proved to be a springboard for a host of past Arc winners with Sinndar and Dalakhani doing the double for the Aga Khan in 2000 and 2003. Hurricane Run and Rail Link have also won both races this century, although no horse has followed up a win in the Prix Niel with Arc victory since Rail Link in 2006.
Read the full story on plans for Harzand and Fascinating Rock in today’s Racing Post, also available on iPad now