Weld: “He had a tough race and he’s taking time to come out of it.”
PICTURE: Getty Images
By Mark Scully 12:40pM 21 JUN 2016
DERMOT WELD says his intention remains to allow Harzand to line up in Saturday’s Irish Derby – but warned the Derby winner has not had the easiest of times since his Epsom victory.
Harzand is a general 5-4 favourite to win a second Derby at the Curragh this weekend and is set to be tested once again by US Army Ranger and Idaho, second and third behind him in the Derby earlier this month.
The colt almost missed out on a start at Epsom after he spread a plate on the morning of the race and Weld told At The Races on Tuesday that his recovery from that problem has not been straightforward.
“[His foot] is a day-to-day situation,” said Weld. “Unfortunately, the morning of the Epsom Derby he spread a plate and pricked the sole of his foot as well. You can imagine how painful that was but my concern now is he’s over all that but he had to go on antibiotics for several days to make sure there wasn’t any infection and to be able to recover.
“You never know after you’ve been on antibiotics what it takes out of you. At the time, I was very hopeful but sometimes they can have a depressing residual effect.
“I think he’s putting his weight back on, he’s perking up in himself and moving very nicely and provided we’re satisfied with him on Thursday, he’ll run on Saturday.”
‘A very courageous horse’
Weld paid tribute to Harzand’s courage, which he says is the main reason he has a chance of lining up in Saturday’s race, a contest the trainer wishes was coming seven days later.
“He’s very tough mentally and courageous, that’s why I’m even talking about running him on Saturday,” said Weld, who will continue to monitor the star colt up to the day of the race.
“I was pleased with the way he worked this morning, I’m satisfied that the horse is perfectly sound. It’s coming a week sooner than I’d like though.
“He had a tough race at Epsom and he’s just taking his time to come out of it, as you can understand. It left a mark on him for the first week but we’re very happy with him now.”
O’Brien pair the two to beat again
Should Harzand take his place in the Curragh feature, Weld is expecting US Army Ranger and Idaho to once again prove the toughest to beat, with further improvement anticipated.
“US Army Ranger and Idaho had a hard race too but they didn’t have the same foot problems,” said Weld. “I have a lot of respect for those horses and I think they’re the two we have to beat again.
“They’re two very good, high class horses that are improving. People get to the spring and say the three-year-olds are substandard but they haven’t been judged.
“Idaho was very impressive as a two-year-old and US Army Ranger is having only his third race, so they’re progressive, improving horses and they’ll be tough to beat.”