Sunday 25 September 2016

Weld keen to give Harzand a Champion challenge

Thomas Kelly

Published 09/08/2016 | 02:30

Trainer Dermot Weld. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Dermot Weld. Photo: Sportsfile

Dermot Weld will let his dual Derby hero Harzand prove himself against the cream of the ten-furlong division in next month's Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

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The master of Rosewell House is in the fortunate position of already having the ante-post favourite for his premier domestic weight-for-age event in Fascinating Rock and is looking at the best options to prep Harzand before his primary objective, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.

Further challengers to the dual Classic star could emerge from next Wednesday's Juddmonte International, while the outstanding filly Minding heads a healthy crop of entries for Aidan O'Brien on September 10.

"I've had Harzand back in for a couple of weeks and he probably looks better than ever," Weld revealed. "The present plan is that he's likely to run at Leopardstown in the Irish Champion Stakes and then the Prix de l'Arc."

Of Fascinating Rock, which took last year's English Champion Stakes and looked on set for another decent season when taking the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the end of May, Weld said: "He's in the Juddmonte but isn't quite there. He can run in the Irish Champion as well."

Weld expects to be empty-handed at the Knavesmire. "Unfortunately I've got nothing for it," he said. "I love York and it's a meeting that's served us very well but unless Pat (Smullen, jockey) and I can find something over the next couple of days, it looks unlikely.

"I've a very nice filly called Zhukova in the Yorkshire Oaks, which beat the likes of Pretty Perfect and Bocca Baciata earlier in the season. She's just not going to be ready in time, but is one to look forward to in the autumn."

O'Brien's Hit It A Bomb, not seen since flying home late for success in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, has appeared among 16 possible runners for Saturday's Hungerford Stakes at Newbury. The Ballydoyle supremo has also left in Cougar Mountain, The Happy Prince and Air Vice Marshall.

Last year's winner Adaay is one of two possibles for Hamdan Al Maktoum along with Chipchase Stakes winner Markaz, which was last seen finishing fifth in the Lennox Stakes.

Richard Hannon's Toormore will have to carry a penalty if he lines up while Home Of The Brave, Jallota and Jeremy Noseda's filly Nemoralia still in the mix. Among those taken out of the race were Limato and Don't Touch.

Elsewhere, Gordon Elliott plans to give Don Cossack just one run before he defends his Cheltenham Gold Cup crown next March - as long as his stable star shows sufficient progress from injury.

The nine-year-old is on the road to recovery from a tendon problem, but Elliott reiterated that Michael O'Leary's gelding would be retired if it looks as though he might not reach the same heights.

"He scanned OK a few weeks ago," said the Co Meath handler. "I think he could be back within a month, then he'll start on roadwork. "It'll be day by day - if he stays OK, he'll be back and if he doesn't, he'll have a happy retirement."

Irish Independent

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