Harzand''s trump card is stamina and that should come into play at the Curragh.
The eagerly-awaited rematch between the Epsom Derby 1-2, HARZAND and US Army Ranger, is sadly off after the latter was ruled out due to an unsatisfactory scope, and that surely leaves the way clear for Dermot Weld’s colt to complete the English-Irish Derby double.
The layers certainly think so as he’s odds-on across the board – bet365 are one of several firms offering a top-priced 10/11 – and it’s hard to quibble with that price as, while there have been more striking winners of the Derby, he won in spite of not looking totally at ease on the undulating track and was extending his advantage at the line. On that evidence, staying is clearly his forte and stamina should come into play even more at the Curragh as it’s a fairer track, meaning horses tend to go at it from the start, which explains why the standard time for the 1m4f here is quicker than it is at Epsom.
On that basis and given that Harzand’s trump card is stamina I would have expected him to beat US Army Ranger by even further here.
We’ll never know now but the Derby form is still very relevant here as the third and sixth, Idaho and Red Verdon, are re-opposing and the former in particular should not be underestimated. If anything, he showed as much class in the race as anything else, travelling sweetly closer to what was an extremely strong early pace than the eventual front two, before quickening up to lead two furlongs out in the style of a top-class horse. He got worn down close home, though to his credit he kept trying, and it could be that he will be best suited to a fast-run 1m2f, with the Coral Eclipse at Sandown the obvious race.
He has two and a quarter lengths to make up on Harzand (who also beat him in the Ballysax Stakes) and, while this more galloping track and better ground should suit, I can’t see it myself.
Britain’s only challenger Red Verdon perhaps would have finished a little closer at Epsom with a clearer run, but he has an even bigger form line to overturn. Jim Bolger’s Moonlight Magic finished tailed off at Epsom having appeared not to handle the downhill run into the turn and he therefore might do a lot better here. An impressive winner of the Derrinstown previously, he might be one for each-way backers at bet365’s 12/1.
But this race is Harzand’s to lose and the only way that will happen is if he runs well below his Epsom form. That can’t be ruled out and, indeed, Weld did have reservations about declaring him for this race on the basis it might come a week too soon. That he is still in it suggests all is well with him, however, and with some rain forecast in the run-up to keep the ground no faster than ‘good’, he looks a solid proposition to become the 18th horse to complete the double.
Harzand @ 10/11 bet365
All odds were correct at time of posting.