HARZAND emerged victorious from a sustained duel with Idaho on Saturday to add the Irish Derby to his recent Investec Derby win. He won by half a length and confirmed his status as the season’s leading middle-distance three-year-old colt in Europe.

The two colts fought all the way to the line, and it was only in the final half-furlong that Harzand and Pat Smullen found more to edge out Ryan Moore on Idaho, with Stellar Mass back in third for Jim Bolger’s stable and Ed Dunlop’s Red Verdon next across the line.

Harzand was the fifth Derby winner owned by the Aga Khan to line up in the Irish equivalent three weeks later and the fifth to succeed, at odds of 4-6.

“It was a great performance by horse and rider,” trainer Dermot Weld said of Harzand. “I thought today’s race was an even better race than Epsom.

“The exciting thing about this race was the battle. Both of those horses quickened and picked up brilliantly and both jockeys tried to save that little bit more for the final challenge.

“I thought for a few strides that Idaho was going to beat us, but just in the last week, Harzand’s coat had begun to sheen and his blood picture came right. I didn’t do much work with him but I knew he had physically improved and Epsom had sharpened him. It was brilliant to watch those two great jockeys riding a finish on two very high-class colts.

“Pat has been a brilliant rider for many, many years. He won [the Irish Derby] on Grey Swallow here for me, and so many races all around Ireland and right across the world. He won the Matriarch for me one day [in California] and totally outrode the top riders in America.”

Smullen, winning the race for the second time, felt that Harzand had committed everything to the struggle in the closing stages. “He’s such a great horse, he’s got such courage and determination. Ryan came with one good, determined run. I needed this horse to dig deep for me and he did. The pressure was on and we pulled it off.”

-from The Guardian.