Weld sets his sights on Epsom glory after Hazapour victory
Dermot Weld appears to have another genuine Classic contender on his hands in the shape of Hazapour, who took a decisive step forward with victory in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes at Leopardstown.
Despite having only a maiden win to his name in three starts as a two-year-old, the Aga Khan-owned Shamardal colt (right) will now bid to emulate Harzand, which landed the Epsom Derby in 2016 after taking this Group Three contest.
Sitting midfield for much of the mile-and-a-quarter contest, the 16/1 winner motored past the Aidan O'Brien-trained pair of Nelson and The Pentagon down the home straight, before defeating fellow Ballydoyle runner Delano Roosevelt by three-quarters of a length.
Weld, winning the race for the ninth time, said: "He's a horse I've really liked. He is a very balanced colt. I thought he did it very nicely when he won his maiden at Galway. The horse he beat easily of Aidan's has been running at a good level. He has developed over the winter and has progressed very nicely.
"He worked beautifully the other morning. He handles the ground well. He is a nephew of Harzand, so therefore there is only one logical way to go with him to see if he can emulate his uncle and that's the plan.
"He is a lovely horse to train. He is a stayer with speed and this has always been the plan. This horse has very similar characteristics to Harzand. He is very tough and is a very genuine colt. He is very adaptable ground-wise."
Zihba booked his ticket to the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas later in the month when maintaining his unbeaten record in the Amethyst Stakes over a mile.
Having posted a brace of victories on the all-weather at Dundalk, the Fozzy Stack-trained three-year-old made an instant impact on his switch to turf as he defeated his elders in the Group Three contest.
Travelling well throughout the mile prize, the 5/2 favourite, a son of Footstepsinthesand, showed a good turn of foot during the closing stages to run out a clear-cut length-and a-half winner.
The Ger Lyons-trained Who's Steph continued her upward curve when claiming the second Pattern-race success of her career with victory in the Derrinstown Stud 1,000 Guineas Trial.
After landing a Group Three over seven furlongs last time out, the daughter of Zoffany made a successful return to a mile when striking at the same level for the second successive race.
Settled just behind the early pace which was cut out by Ballet Shoes, the 3/1 shot swiftly put daylight between herself and her rivals when sent on by Colin Keane inside the final furlong, before crossing the line a length clear of Ship Of Dreams.