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Weld sweet on 'middleweight' Zawraq


Zawraq (far side) wins at Leopardstown

Zawraq (far side) wins at Leopardstown

Zawraq (far side) wins at Leopardstown

Dermot Weld has nominated Zawraq as the likely leading light in his three-year-old division this term.

The Shamardal colt had just one start as a juvenile, beating Aidan O'Brien's well-regarded Sir Isaac Newton by half a length in a Leopardstown maiden over seven furlongs last October.

Weld was delighted with that effort and is planning to pitch Zawraq into the 2000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown on April 12, as he tries to weigh up his Classic potential.

Speaking in a stable tour for At The Races, Weld said: "He had a bit of a cold six weeks before the race at Leopardstown and I know Aidan thinks a lot of Sir Isaac Newton, so I thought he put up a very good performance to win.

"He's after doing very well over the winter. He's like a middleweight boxer, powerful and athletic. He has a great mind too, very laid back. Good ground will suit him best.

"He'll start off in the 2000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown next month and that will tell us a lot about where we need to go with him.

"He's in the Newmarket and Irish 2000 Guineas and if he won the trial we'd have to seriously consider Newmarket for him, but if he was beaten and looked like he wanted further, we'd probably come back and run in the Derrinstown Derby Trial at Leopardstown.

"I think he may want to go further than a mile and I'm hopeful he'll stay a mile and a half.

" I was only looking at his pedigree the other night and it's the old Height Of Fashion family, so there's no shortage of stamina in his family.

"Mentally, you'd say he was more of a Derby horse than a Guineas horse, because he's so relaxed. He's a joy to train really. At the moment, he is probably our best three-year-old with the most potential."

Weld also has some established stable stars to rely on in the coming months with Forgotten Rules expected to progress after winning each of his three outings last term, culminating in the British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot last October.

The trainer said: "He has done very well over the winter and is likely to start off in the Vintage Crop at Navan.

"We think he's an Ascot Gold Cup horse, the only thing is that he would like some ease in the ground. If the ground is good or even safe good to firm at Ascot, I think he'll give a very good account of himself."

Fascinating Rock won both the Ballysax Stakes and the Derrinstown Derby Trial last term but failed to fire in either the English or Irish Derby, leaving Weld to go back to the drawing board this term.

He said: "He did us proud last year winning a couple of Group races. He was a sore horse after the Irish Derby last year and possibly the runs at Epsom and the Curragh on fast ground just took their toll on him.

"He had a good break and I'd like to drop him back to a mile for his first start, so I'm looking at the Heritage Stakes at Leopardstown next month.

"I accept he's a multiple Group winner over a mile and a quarter, but I just want to see how he gets on over a mile and the Heritage is a nice option for him. He'll always be best suited by a cut in the ground."

Mustajeeb won the seven-furlong Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot last term but after finishing only sixth on his final start in the Breeders' Cup Mile, Weld thinks a switch back in trip may be key.

He said: "He's done awfully well over winter and looks magnificent. I'm going to look at dropping him back in trip, as I thought he showed a lot of pace in his run at the Breeders' Cup.

"I'll start him off in the Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh and we'll see how he gets on."

PA Media