Harzand winning The Derby. Picture courtesy of Alan Crowhurst and Getty Images
Heavy pulses of rain hit the Curragh through Friday and the ground will ride with juice in it. It’s come right for Harzand. The Derby winner thrived on a heavy surface earlier in the season in the Ballysax and at Epsom he was even better when the ground was good to yielding.
He improved from Leopardstown to Epsom to confirm his authority over Idaho and although you would expect tactics will be different this time for Idaho the result will be the same.
Moonlight Magic didn’t handle Epsom at all but on form he’s not out of it. He beat Idaho in the Derrinstown in impressive style on good ground and while the showers have passed and it will dry out you would expect that decent ground won’t come in time for Jim Bolger’s colt. The same applies to Stellar Mass, the other Bolger representative who is an improver having taken the Ulster Derby at Down Royal last weekend.
Only one traveller in the shape of Red Verdon from the Ed Dunlop stable. Sixth in the Derby he has an uphill task.
Aidan O’Brien does his best to support the race and it’s a pity US Army Ranger didn’t make it. He was pulled out having scoped badly leaving Port Douglas, Shogun and Claudio Montevedi to join Idaho in the box up from Tipperary. Of the three the latter makes most appeal on the ground. He finished very well to take fourth on the first day of the season and followed up winning his maiden in very good style in April where The Gurkha was 6L behind in third. He hated Epsom when sent for the trial in April and Aidan dropped him from the team. No doubt he’ll be here to do a job, to set the fractions for Idaho.
Earlier in the week there was some doubt about the participation of Harzand with Dermot Weld expressing concern about the race coming too soon after Epsom. As the week has progressed it has become less an issue and with the ground in his favour it’s hard to look beyond him.
At even money he’s a fair price however at 66/1 a horse who can beat The Gurkha 6 L has to be backed for a place.
Recommendation: Claudio Montevedi 66/1 ew