The Dermot Weld-trained Harzand earned quotes ranging from 16/1 to 25/1 for the Investec Derby in Epsom following his workmanlike victory in the Group 3 P W McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes in Leopardstown yesterday.
Sent off 2/1 favourite, the Aga Khan-owned Sea The Stars colt, runaway winner of a Cork maiden last month, picked up well off a strong pace to beat the Ballydoyle trio, Idaho, Beacon Roc and Cook Islands.
A length and a half was the winning margin for Pat Smullen’s mount, with the leading duo finishing seven and a half clear of the third.
“That was a nice performance from a progressive, big colt,” stated Weld.
“It was a proper classic trial. They went a very good gallop in that ground. Pat got him switched off and he quickened in two strides and came home very well.
“He’s not the finished article yet and the best is yet to come from him. We’ll see how he comes out of the race before making firm plans as the year progresses. But he’s crying out to go a mile and a half. He’s a very agile, good-moving colt and isn’t confined to testing ground. He’ll handle good ground, but I would be worried about very firm.”
Weld and Smullen completed a double for the Aga Khan when even-money favourite Alveena battled well to get the better of Here For The Craic by three-quarters of a length in the Bulmers Live At Leopardstown Handicap.
“She was a consistent filly last year and had to battle to win. But she did her job. We’ll see if he can repeat it in another similar handicap.”
Jet Setting gave Curragh-based Adrian Keatley the biggest success of his short training career when making all under Shane Foley to land the Group 3 Leopardstown 1,000 Guineas Trial.
Bought last October out of Richard Hannon’s for just €12,000, the Fast Company filly, winner of a Cork maiden over Easter, set a strong pace and galloped on resolutely up the straight to beat Now Or Never by three lengths, with favourite Alice Springs a never threatening third.
“I’m delighted – it’s her day in the sun,” stated an understandably delighted Keatley. “We’re only in our new facility seven weeks so this is a great boost. She won in bad ground, over a furlong further in Cork, so we were happy to jump out and make it today.
“She was a good purchase and we have no definite plans. She could be supplemented to the Irish 1,000 Guineas, but she’d have to have soft ground. Shane says it felt like good ground on her out there today. We might have a strong look at the German Guineas – she’d be almost guaranteed to get her ground there.”
Aidan O’Brien captured the Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial with Black Sea, which came from last to first, swooping late to foil dead-heaters Stenographer and odds-on favourite rue Solitaire by a head.
The winner was ridden by Ryan Moore, who switched onto the Galileo colt following the withdrawal of his intended mount Johannes Vermeer (lame). Aidan O’Brien explained: “Ryan gave him a great ride and says he wants better ground and to go further.
“There was plenty of pace, which suited him. He’ll step into a trial, over a mile and a quarter, now and Ryan thinks he’ll suit America in time.”
Newcomer Bhutan, the apparent Ballydoyle third string, ridden by Donnacha, initiated a double for O’Brien when landing the opening mile and a quarter maiden at the expense of better-fancied stable-companion Housesofparliament.
“He’s been sleeping at home, but he’s good-looking, well-bred colt,” stated O’Brien. “I liked the way he galloped out to the line. We’ll find one of the (Derby) trials for him next.”
Damien English will consider a trip to Chester for Tribal Path, which followed-up a recent win in Cork, with another all-the-way win in the Leopardstown Family Raceday Handicap, explaining: “He’s big, tough and genuine. I had him in Tipperary on Tuesday, but it’s off. If he wins again, we might bring him to Chester – he’d be an ideal horse for it, if he got a low draw.”
Fran Berry produced Laganore, trained by Tony Martin for Newtown Anner Stud Farm, with a well-timed challenge to foil Unyielding and Aussie Valentine in the finale, the Leopardstown Summer Membership Handicap.
Martin commented: “She’s a nice filly and has done well since last year. We hoped she’d handle the longer trip and she did.
“So it opens up more options for her.”
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