Weld targeting first Arc of glittering career with Zhukova
The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is the one glaring omission from the glittering CV of Dermot Weld, and the Master of Rosewell House has turned to a mare to try and give him a first success in the French showpiece.
Zhukova has been given the ultimate aim by her ambitious trainer who reports the five-year-old to be in great shape following her wide-margin win in the Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park this month.
Harzand gave Weld his first Investec Derby success in 2016 but the son of Sea The Stars was unable to end the trainer's Arc hoodoo and could finish only ninth behind Found at Chantilly last October.
Now Zhukova has been handed the baton. The five-year-old has won seven of her ten starts and, while victory at Belmont Park was a first at Grade 1 level, she did lower the colours of US Army Ranger in the Group 3 Enterprise Stakes at Leopardstown in September so has beaten the boys already.
"Zhukova has come out of her win at Belmont in great shape and I'm very happy with her," said Weld.
"We've mapped out her plan for the rest of the season and the plan is to run in the Yorkshire Oaks in August on the way to the Arc.
He added: "She's done nothing but improve from day one. The older she gets, the better she gets and I thought her performance at Belmont was her best yet. I'm very happy with her. She's a very talented mare."
While a soft-ground Arc might be a bonus to Zhukova given she has won on heavy and the ground was yielding when she won at Belmont, she won her maiden on good to firm ground at Navan so seems versatile with regard to the ground.
Zhukova is a 20-1 shot with Paddy Power, bet365 and Betfair for the Arc on October 1. Almazor is favourite across the board, no bigger than 9-2.