Fringe players targeting Derby
Published 16/05/2015 | 02:30
A Derby picture that still lacks any meaningful clarity has compelled the connections of Zawraq and Success Days to seriously consider prioritising the Epsom Classic.
Both had been earmarked for alternative engagements on home soil. Next week's Irish 2,000 Guineas was Zawraq's initial target and next month's Irish Derby was the plan for Success Days after his emphatic Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial victory last Sunday.
However, after defeats for leading Ballydoyle fancies John F Kennedy, Ol' Man River and Highland Reel and Aidan O'Brien's assertion that his 2,000 Guineas hero Gleneagles would not be diverted from tomorrow week's mile Classic at the Curragh, a tilt at Epsom's June 6 Group One has become increasingly tempting for those on the fringes.
There would be a fairytale element to a win in the race for either Success Days or Zawraq.
In a career spanning 43 years, Dermot Weld has plundered the Melbourne Cup, a Belmont Stakes, a Gold Cup, an Irish Derby and everything else in between.
To date, though, the sport's premier Classic has eluded him.
Zawraq's owner Hamdan Al Maktoum has won it twice, and his spokesman Angus Gold has now confirmed that Weld is preparing Zawraq for the £1.3m event.
"At this stage we'd be looking more at going straight to the Derby," Gold said of the Shamardal colt, which took its unbeaten record to two over a mile on its April Leopardstown return.
"I know the trainer is keen to head straight to the Derby. We don't know if Zawraq is going to stay, but the race still looks open.
"He missed one gallop when he knocked a joint in his box, but he has been working away and he's fine. Everyone's happy with him."
Condon has been training on the Curragh for 30 fewer years than Weld, but he has made a name for himself since learning the ropes with John Oxx.
In producing Success Days to win the Ballysax and Derrinstown trials, he has emulated O'Brien's first two Derby winners Galileo and High Chaparral.
That is no mean feat for a home-bred horse whose owner Robert Ng, a wealthy Malaysian businessman, acquired the dam for €20,000 in 2002.
Success Days' 100pc record in three outings this term has been aided by his preference for testing ground and he would need to be supplemented for Epsom at a cost of £75,000.
"It's a big decision and it doesn't have to be made until June 1, but the owner is leaning towards it," Condon said.
"We've seen the trials now and no one seems to be putting their hands up, bar Golden Horn, and he might not run as he needs to be supplemented, too.
"Success Days has come out of the race in super form. Okay, he has been winning on soft ground, but I'd like to think he'd have been just as impressive on the slow side of good.
"We're giving it serious consideration - it's going to be very hard to resist."
Neither of John Gosden's Dante one-two Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs are sure to run, while the York third Elm Park also now has something to prove. Zawraq is the 6/1 second favourite in the Derby betting behind Golden Horn, with Success Days 14/1 with a run.
The still unsighted Giovanni Canaletto is the shortest priced Ballydoyle contender at 10/1 ahead of Hans Holbein, Kilimanjaro and Highland Reel.
Meanwhile, Adrian Heskin was last night belatedly handed a six-day ban for failing to obtain the best possible placing on Ted Walsh's Foxrock at Punchestown in December, while Galway handler Ger Lynch has had his licence suspended for three months for administering vaccinations to his horses.
In admitting the charge, Lynch, who falsified passports by signing on behalf of a non-existent vet, explained that he was seeking to avoid the cost of paying a vet to administer the vaccinations.