Tuesday 21 November 2017

Harzand going solo for Weld

Pat Smullen. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Pat Smullen. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Fascinating Rock has been ruled out of Sunday's Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe but Irish Champion Stakes hero Almanzor could still take his chance.

This is the second time that Frankie Dettori was due to ride Fascinating Rock in a big race, only for Dermot Weld to swerve it. He was lined up to take his chance in the Champion Stakes but was not declared. Likely he will next run in the British Champion Stakes.

However, Harzand is on course to represent Weld as he bids to win the Arc, run this year at Chantilly, for the first time. The Aga Khan's dual Derby winner was reportedly struck into at Leopardstown and finished down the field, but his recovery has been good.

"Harzand's in tremendous form and, I'm really happy with him," rider Pat Smullen said yesterday. "It was nothing spectacular about the work he did this morning but he felt well. He's in good order and you have to be happy with the way he was."

Smullen is hoping for more luck with the draw than the Weld-trained Famous Name got when beaten a head in the French Derby from gate 17 in 2008.

Read more: 'Russian' could be put in his Place at Sligo

"A lot has been made about Chantilly but it is pretty much the case at any track - if you're at Leopardstown drawn 17 runners of 17 runners it's a disadvantage - like it is pretty much at any turning track. We are at the mercy of the draw and nobody wants to be drawn really wide."

Smullen is confident of Harzand's chance, despite his having to recover from Leopardstown.

He added: "I think provided there is a little ease in ground - it wouldn't want to be very fast as it is well-documented he likes a little ease - he should be bang there. It's a good galloping track and on all known form so far this year hopefully he has a great chance.

"We are happy with him since Leopardstown - we've done no great trying but he has recovered well. It would mean everything for me to win it. It was great to win at Epsom and I always wanted to win that race but if there's one race left, it's the Arc. I looked after him at Leopardstown with a view to this race."

Almanzor was expected to skip the Arc but the Jean Claude Rouget-trained three-year-old was cut across the board in the market yesterday, having been left in. He is now as short as 3/1, though his participation or otherwise is still up in the air.

Postponed is the antepost favourite for Roger Varian and arrives unbeaten in four starts this term. Since his debut, he has run 16 times and only once finished out of the first three.

Japanese raider Makahiki worked on the gallops on Tuesday morning under Christophe Lemaire, who expressed himself pleased with the son of Deep Impact's feel. Aidan O'Brien has left in Found, Order Of St George and Highland Reel among 19 possibles.

Irish Independent

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