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 on Sunday.
Despite only having a maiden win to his name in three starts as a two-year-old, the Aga Khan-owned Shamardal colt will now bid to emulate Harzand, who landed the Epsom Derby in 2016 after claiming this Group 3 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 inmate Delano Roosevelt by three-quarters of a length.
Weld, who was winning the race for the ninth time, said: “He is 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 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.”
He went on: “It’s a concern (the extra distance at Epsom) within reason. He is out of a mare by Daylami, but he was getting home well there.
“He has a lovely way of galloping, as he gallops low to the ground and those horses tend to stay.”
McDonogh said: “He travelled so smoothly – like a dream and I’m sure he’ll come on for that again.
“He’s a really nice horse.”
Who’s Steph continued her upward curve when claiming the second Pattern-race success of her career with victory in the Derrinstown Stud 1000 Guineas Trial on the same card.
After landing a Group 3 over seven furlongs on heavy ground last time out, the daughter of Zoffany made a successful return to a mile on good to firm 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.
The winner was making her debut in the colours of George Strawbridge and is likely to be added to the field for the Irish 1000 Guineas, according to Lyons.
The trainer said: “I’ve just spoken to Mr Strawbridge and he is over the moon. It is all well doing these deals and getting big clients into the yard, but ultimately you have to deliver and get the results on the board and that was a big one for us.
“She is up to winning on heavy ground and up to winning on good to firm ground, which is important as if she has a career in America she has to handle that.”
He added: “I’d say we will be supplementing for the 1000 Guineas as there is no reason we won’t use today’s prize-money for that.
“She is just one of those horses that ticks all the boxes. The box I’m most impressed with is her temperament.
“You can have everything, but if you don’t have temperament it stops you getting to the next level.”
Zihba booked his ticket to the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas later in the month when maintaining his unbeaten record in the Amethyst Stakes.
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 3 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
Following the race the winner was halved in price to 8/1 for the Irish Guineas by Paddy Power.
Stack said: “It is not easy beating those older horses, but he was getting the weight and he did it well.
“I’m sure we will line up in the 2000 Guineas. Whether he is good enough or not, we will see.
“He wants fast ground and we’ve kind of waited for it. We thought about going for the Tetrarch or the Craven, but this is where we ended up coming in the end.
He added: “He works smart. He has always pleased us.”
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