Hazapour scores win in Derby Trial Stakes but trainer fears Saxon Warrior
Hazapour was an upset winner of the 2018 Derby Trial Stakes at Leopardstown
Harzand winning the Epsom Derby for trainer Dermot Weld. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Hazapour wins Derby Trial Stakes but trainer Dermot Weld fears current Derby favourite Saxon Warrior.
The weld-trained colt scored an upset win at odds of 16/1 at Leopardstown on Sunday to book his place in the Epsom Derby but Weld was quick to shift the focus on Saxon Warrior.
"He's outstanding, the horse to beat," Weld said about the 2000 Guineas winner. "Saxon Warrior is an exceptionally good colt. He was outstanding as a two-year-old and is the outstanding colt of the moment.
"He's the horse to beat (in the Derby)."
The current 4-5 favourite will have his admirers but the challenge could now come from Hazapour, which is a nephew of 2016 Derby winner Harzand.
Scoring by three quarters of a length, Hazapour is now a 12/1 chance for the Derby and his progression hasn't gone unnoticed by Weld.
"He’s a horse I've always liked and it was a pleasing performance," Weld said. "I thought he did it very nicely when he won his maiden at Galway.
"Over the winter he’s developed and progressed very nicely. He’s not been away or anything like that but he worked beautifully the other morning.
"He handles the ground well, is medium sized and balanced. He’s a nephew of Harzand and so there’s only one way to go with him."
Weld made note of the similarities between Hazapour and Harzand, which famously scored a win in the Derby despite having his foot in an ice bucket for most of the day.
"He was such a brave horse - the bravest I've trained," Weld said about Harzand. "He experienced a lot of pain in his foot that day and then we had to get him right in a few weeks for the Curragh, where he won again.
"Hazapour has similar characteristics. He’s tough, genuine and adaptable ground wise."
The son of Shamardal appears to have the temperament to handle Epsom Downs and Weld believes he has the horse for the job.
"He was getting home well there and he has a lovely way of galloping," Weld said. "He gallops very close to the ground and those horses tend to stay. He settles nicely; he relaxes and you can put him anywhere in the race, so there a whole lot of advantages to him.
"I’d say he’s the sort of horse who will always represent you well."