Tuesday 17 January 2017

Weld hails Harzand 'courage' as Derby hero is retired to stud

Thomas Kelly

Published 25/10/2016 | 02:30

Harzand won four of his seven races and was ridden in all of them by Pat Smullen. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Harzand won four of his seven races and was ridden in all of them by Pat Smullen. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Tributes flowed yesterday for dual Derby hero Harzand after confirmation that Dermot Weld's colt has been retired and will stand at the Aga Khan's Gilltown Stud in 2017.

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The son of Sea The Stars proved his toughness as well as his class by overcoming a late scare to claim the Epsom showpiece in June. Having spread a plate in transit, he needed constant treatment in the run-up to the race and showed great courage to hold off US Army Ranger.

It was then a rush to prepare him for the Irish Derby but he once again displayed a willing attitude to fend off Aidan O'Brien's Idaho.

His season ended with defeats in the Irish Champion Stakes, in which he suffered another injury, and the Arc in which he finished ninth.

"I've enjoyed training him. He's won two Derbies for us. He's a beautifully-made colt, very sound," said Weld.

"It's been a team effort. It hasn't been the easiest - when he spread the plate before Epsom it was nerve-racking - but it was his guts and courage that won the day. He then went on antibiotics as he picked up an infection after Epsom, but he came back stronger than ever to win the Irish Derby.

"He had a long year, a hard year. People forget he won his maiden by 16 lengths in March and then the Ballysax in April. He has done everybody proud and it's been an honour to train him."

Harzand won four of his seven races and was ridden in all of them by Pat Smullen who recalled: "Epsom was nerve-racking, but when I cantered him to the start there was never a question of him not running as he felt great.

"After he won the Ballysax I said I didn't think he'd be suited to Epsom, but all spring he kept proving me wrong, he kept on improving. That's just typical of very good horses - they keep on improving - and he gave us two great days.

"He got struck into at Leopardstown which meant his race was over and that made it a rush to get him ready for the Arc. Maybe it just came too soon.

"Hopefully he'll go on to prove Sea The Stars as the sire of sires."

Weld's Forgotten Rules appears unlikely to pursue a career over hurdles this winter as had been mooted.

The classy six-year-old was only seventh when bidding for a second win in the British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot earlier this month and connections feel he is unlikely to scale the heights he had promised a few of years ago.

Forgotten Rules was considered for a stint over jumps last winter and was even schooled, but Fiona Craig, advisor for owner-breeders Moyglare Stud Farm, feels he is more likely to stick to the Flat.

She explained: "He has been schooled over hurdles before. He jumped fine, but he's not really a natural jumper."

Irish Independent

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