Racing in mid-division under Pat Smullen early, the dark bay was sent past Idaho inside the last quarter mile and turned back the threat of US Army Ranger to beat that 7-2 favourite by 1 1/2 lengths. In doing so, he was providing his trainer and jockey with a first Epsom Derby victory, and his owner-breeder with a fifth to match the achievement of his late father.
"I won my first Classic with Blue Wind here many years ago, when I probably didn't have horses like this to win this great race," trainer Dermot Weld said. "It's wonderful to do it. We had a huge worry this morning, as he spread a plate traveling over and he was a very doubtful runner right up to about an hour ago. With great help from my colleagues and all my team, we made it.”
Pat Smullen was full of admiration for Harzand as he soaked in his initial blue riband success and said, "It's a childhood dream to win this race and I've been at it a while now. The trouble we had with him this morning, I didn't know if he would get here, but it's a great team effort. He's a vastly improving horse and showed his true ability today. He found another gear when the second horse came to him."
Weld added, "It's very special to win this race. I think I've had 23 Classic winners in Europe. Blue Wind was my first when she won the Oaks [in 1981]. I've won a couple of Irish Derbys but I've always obviously wanted to win this race. I've possibly never had a horse good enough to do it but today was the day. I thought he put in a very good performance when he won his group race at Leopardstown. He beat a good field that day. He's a lovely balanced colt and he's progressive. I just thought when he worked the other day at The Curragh that he was progressing and he just showed a bit more pace. I then thought he would represent us very well."
The Aga Khan was quick to pay tribute to his team, saying, "Winning the Derby is the goal of every owner and it's been the goal of every owner for centuries. It's a great race with a great history and outstanding winners. From my point of view, it's the ultimate thing you can do as an owner and, at this stage, I would like to thank my team for what they do in Ireland and in France, which is a big achievement and which has been going on for a long time now. I'm very honoured to have them all working with me to produce these horses."
"It's difficult to compare Harzand to my other Derby winners [Shergar in 1981, Shahrastani in 1986, Kahyasi in 1988 and Sinndar in 2000]," he added. "I think one of the best memories I have is of Shergar coming round Tattenham Corner and, in my eyes, he was cantering. It was something I couldn't believe. I'm 80 now and I've owned horses since I was 20, so 60 years of ownership. I've had some wonderful horses. My fifth Derby winner was quite important to me."
Extracts from Thoroughbred Daily News / ESPN (Photo)