Shamardal colt is a serious Derby contender

J A McGrath

Only three winners of Leopardstown’s G3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial have made the progression to G1 Derby success at Epsom, and records shows that occurred 16, 17 and 18 years ago.

So, to my mind, another Derby hero from this key Irish race, inaugurated in 1971 as the Nijinsky Stakes, is overdue.

The hat-trick of Sinndar (2000), Galileo (2001) and High Chaparral (2002) were all outstanding in their respective years, and it may be premature and a little unfair to be placing Sunday’s winner, Hazapour, in the same bracket. But there was much to like about the way this smart son of Darley stallion Shamardal raced past Delano Roosevelt and The Pentagon to win with authority.

Hazapour, owned and bred by His Highness the Aga Khan, is closely related to dual Derby winner Harzand — his dam is a Daylami half-sister — and it was interesting to hear Dermot Weld, the colt’s trainer, who also handled Harzand, very eager to go to Epsom.

Weld said: “He’s a lovely colt, very balanced, and very like his uncle (Harzand) in many ways.

“I was thinking of running him in the one-mile Group race here. He’d shown a lot of pace and that’s why he’s a horse I think we’ve got to seriously consider for Epsom. He’s a stayer with speed,” he pointed out.

This was Hazapour’s first time on a racecourse this year.

“There should be natural improvement to come from this,” Weld said confidently.

Of other Derby trials in the past week, I thought Young Rascal (Intello), who showed a good turn of foot in winning the G3 Chester Vase, and Knight To Behold (Sea The Stars), expertly handling the track in the Listed Lingfield Derby Trial, emerged with legitimate claims to go to Epsom.

Now, it’s on to York, where the G2 Dante Stakes, traditionally a solid pointer, is to be run on Thursday.