04th June 2016

WELD WINS THE INVESTEC DERBY FOR FIRST TIME – FIFTH FOR THE AGA KHAN

County Kildare trainer Dermot Weld won the Investec Derby for the first time at the seventh attempt this afternoon, thanks to the colt Harzand.

 

The winner, a son of the 2009 Investec Derby winner Sea The Stars, became another breeding triumph for his owner, HH The Aga Khan, who has now won the World's greatest Flat race no fewer than five times, equalling the record of his grandfather. Yet Harzand did not have the smoothest path to the race, having suffered a sore foot caused by a shoeing problem - that was treated and it did not stop when it mattered.

 

Harzand, ridden by Pat Smullen, started at 13/2 and beat the 7/2 favourite US Army Ranger by one and a half lengths. In third was 14/1 shot Idaho, who was another length and a quarter behind the runner-up.

 

The Aga Khan said: "This is a major gift for everybody who works with me in this wonderful activity. To win a fifth Derby for the family is obviously very historic."

 

Weld said: "I won my first Classic with Blue Wind (1981 Oaks at Epsom) here many years ago - I probably didn't have the horses like this to win this great race.

 

"We had a huge worry this morning because he spread a plate travelling over and he was a very doubtful runner right up until about an hour ago. With tremendous help from all of my colleagues and my team, we made it."

 

ALL SMULLEN'S DREAMS COME TRUE

 

Pat Smullen captured his first Investec Derby aboard 13/2 shot Harzand, owned and bred by the Aga Khan and trained by Dermot Weld.

 

The 39-year-old was having his eighth ride in the premier Classic. His best Investec Derby result prior to this was third place on Casual Conquest in 2008.

 

Smullen has ridden Harzand, a son of Sea The Stars - himself the Investec Derby winner in 2009 - in all four of his starts. The colt broke his maiden at the second time of asking at Cork on March 26, winning by 16 lengths. He then won the P W McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown on 10 April.

 

Smullen and Weld revealed that there had been some doubt as to the colt's participation in the Investec Derby after he spread a plate [lost a shoe] on the way to the track today.

 

Smullen said: "It's what you dream of. For the boss to win this race is more fitting and I am delighted to have ridden a winner for him. He is the world's greatest trainer and the trouble we had this morning - I didn't know whether I was going to get on the plane or not!

 

"The boys have worked absolutely unbelievably to get him [Harzand] here sound and fit. It's a whole team effort and I am so privileged to be in the position to ride these horses. We all get on really well - there's a great atmosphere in the yard - and it is a whole team effort. I am delighted for the team.

 

"I could sense Ryan [Moore] coming and I spotted the white face of US Army Ranger, but this horse responded for me and I knew that he would get to the line well. The race went perfectly - it was just a little rough early on but I got to follow Idaho into the race and I used him as my target. To be fair, this is a very good horse.

 

"It's amazing, this game. When I got on Midterm, I thought that he was going to be my Epsom Derby horse but this horse improved out of all knowledge. The ease in the ground came at the right time and I am absolutely delighted."

 

RANGER AND IDAHO FINISH BEST OF THE BALLYDOYLE BATTALION

 

Aidan O'Brien was pleased with the performances of 7/2 favourite US Army Ranger and 14/1 shot Idaho who finished second and third behind winner Harzand in the Investec Derby.

 

US Army Ranger was held up near the back of the field by Ryan Moore with a strong gallop set by stable companion Port Douglas.

 

US Army Ranger gradually made ground in the home straight and came to challenge the winner a furlong from home and looked likely to gain victory. However, O'Brien's charge was unable to reel in Harzand and was eventually beaten a length and a half.

 

O'Brien said of US Army Ranger: "He has run a lovely race. I was delighted with him. I think he ran a great race and he was very babyish early on in the contest. I wouldn't make any excuses as he did run really well.

 

"I am delighted with the horse. We're also delighted for Dermot Weld, Pat Smullen and the Aga Khan but our horse has run well.

 

"He grew up a lot from Chester but he is still babyish but he continues to improve and we'll look forward to running him again.

 

Idaho under Seamie Heffernan had travelled into the race well and led two furlongs out. He stayed on resolutely to fill third, beaten two and three-quarter lengths in total. O'Brien remarked: "Idaho ran very well. I think he will come forward again for that. He behaved well in the preliminaries and we are very happy with him.

 

"Idaho is a nice horse. He won his maiden well at the Curragh and then ran another couple of nice races in trials in Ireland when he was second in the Ballysax Stakes and the Derrinstown Stud Trial at Leopardstown so he had very good form coming into the race."

 

O'Brien earmarked the Irish Derby as a race which would be considered for his placed horses. He commented: "We will see how both horses come out of the race but we could think of something like the Irish Derby but we will see how they are and then make up our mind."

 

O'Brien added: "You would definitely look forward to seeing them run against one another again."

 

BEATEN JOCKEYS

 

Ryan Moore, partner of second US Army Ranger, said: "He ran great but was a bit inexperienced."

 

Seamie Heffernan, partner of third Idaho, said: "I had a great position and ran very well. There is a chance that he is still a little bit weak. I be surprised if he didn't do a bit more - it was a lovely ride. He is proper mile-and-a-half and mile-six horse."

 

Frankie Dettori, rider of fourth Wings Of Desire, said: "They went very fast. I couldn't really travel early doors. I got the split at the right time but I guess the ground was a bit sticky for him and the undulations of the track caught me out a little bit."

 

Sean Levey, on board fifth Humphrey Bogart, said: "He went very well and I had a great trip round. I am delighted with him, he ran a big race. He probably just ran behind a bunch of classier horses but he has proven himself again with the form. It was an amazing thrill. It is not necessarily the race itself that gets you going but the before and after. I am just delighted to be a part of it."

 

Richard Hannon, the Tagula colt's trainer, added: "I am absolutely delighted he ran a super race - for a moment when they turned Tatenham Corner he looked very dangerous. There were a lot of good horses behind him. The winner is obviously a very good horse Every time this horse has run he has taken a step up. Today he has taken a massive step up. I will look at the Irish Derby and Royal Ascot. I couldn't be more proud of him."

 

Kieran Fallon, on Across The Stars (10th), said: "He travelled well to the top of the hill. Coming down the hill he never acted - he was all over the shop. I looked after him and when we met the rising ground he went on again. I like him and he will be a nice horse."

 

Jim Crowley, partner of Algometer (7th), said: "He got a little worked up before the race and he didn't travel as well as I think he can. He just lacked a gear but stayed on really well. He will be a good ride in the St Leger."

 

Jamie Spencer, on Deauville (11th), said: "The ground was too soft for him."

 

Paul Hanagan, on Massaat (9th), said: "He emptied out a bit quickly - it may have been the ground. He travelled well enough in the race."

 

Kevin Manning, rider of Moonlight Magic (16th and last), said: "When we started racing four-and-a-half furlongs out he got unbalanced and was very unbalanced coming down the hill."

 

Colm Douglas, on board Port Douglas (14th), said: "I don't think the horse liked the ground."

 

Donnacha O'Brien, on Shogun (15th), said: "He wasn't travelling well enough when they quickened up."