Dermot Weld has been established as one of the world’s leading international trainers for many decades now. As well as being a fixture at the top end of the domestic trainer’s championship, Weld is perhaps best known for his exploits on the international stage.
He came to worldwide attention when saddling Vintage Crop to win the Melbourne Cup and he repeated that feat with Media Puzzle in 2002. He is also the only European trainer to train the winner of a leg of the Triple Crown having saddled Go And Go to win the Belmont Stakes in 1990. As well as that, he also won the Hong Kong Mile with Additional Risk in 1991.
Weld enjoyed some of his best seasons in the last 20 years in each of the last three campaigns, with him saddling an array of stakes winners both in Ireland and abroad highlighted by the exploits of dual-Derby winner Harzand last year.
He looks to have a highly-promising team of three-year-olds to go to war with in 2017 and with his new recruit The Grey Gatsby spearheading his team of older horses, it looks set to be another successful campaign for him.
Dermot was good enough to find the time to sit down with Kevin Blake from attheraces.com to discuss his team’s prospects for the coming season.
3 b f Dubawi – Bethrah
An unraced daughter of the winner of the Irish 1,000 Guineas, she is entered in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and the Irish Oaks.
“She’s a nice filly and that was just big and backward last season. She goes nicely and should be capable of winning a maiden. She’ll be out in the next two or three weeks.”
3 ch f Galileo – Lady Luck
An unraced half-sister to the high-class middle-distance performer Casual Conquest. She is entered in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and the Irish Oaks.
“She was a very backward filly last season that should make up into a nice sort in the second half of this season. She’s a middle-distance filly in the making.”
4 b c Sea The Stars – Ebaza
Made a winning debut in a maiden at Gowran Park in April 2016, but hasn’t appeared since.
“We had some hold ups with him last year, nothing serious, just a series of small setbacks. He’s not short of pace and a mile-and-a-quarter could well be his trip. He might run in the next two weeks.”
3 ch f Teofilo – Eytarna
Rated 107, she won a maiden at Galway and the Group 3 C.L. & M.F. Weld Park Stakes at the Curragh last season.
“She did us proud last year. She won the C.L. & M.F. Weld Park Stakes and that was a race we were delighted to win with her. Like a lot of our fillies, she is just a little backward at this stage of the season. We got a cold spell here just a wrong time and it has slowed some of them down. I hope she can be a filly for the Irish 1,000 Guineas and that is likely to be her first run of the season. She was a bit weak last season and still needs to develop more, so with that in mind I suspect she’ll be even better in the second half of the season. She wore a hood in her final start last season and while she may wear it again, I would consider it optional rather than essential. She’ll never want firm ground, but I think good ground will suit her well. She should stay a mile-and-a-quarter.”
FILLE DU SEPTEMBRE
2 b f Choisir – Rocking
A half-sister to the useful sprinters Mustallib and Boston Rocker, she realised €130,000 as a yearling and made a winning debut in a maiden at Dundalk on Friday.
“She is our only two-year-old that was really forward and we were hopeful that she would win at Dundalk and she did it well. She got a bit of stage fright when the stalls opened and had to do it the hard way after that, but Pat gave her a beautiful ride and she came through very well to win. Obviously it wasn’t ideal to miss the break as she did, but as it turned out she got a great education in victory as a result. The Marble Hill is likely to be her next start and she might well be one for Royal Ascot. She’s a good ground filly.”
3 b c Street Cry – Fiery Red
Rated 104, he won a maiden at Naas and a nursey at the Galway Festival prior to finishing second in a Group 3 at Leopardstown on Irish Champions Weekend.
“He did us proud last year and he will reappear in the Leopardstown 2000 Guineas Trial Stakes on Saturday. He quite forward and should run a good race. A mile appeals as being about right for him and he is a good ground horse.”
7 b g Nayef – Utterly Heaven
Rated 108, he was late getting back to the track last season, but went close in Listed races at the Curragh and at Saint-Cloud.
“He is in great order and will reappear at Leopardstown on Wednesday in a conditions race. He is still a little backward in his coat, but he’s coming forward and will start off there and use it as a prep race for the Vintage Crop. The Ascot Gold Cup could be a possibility, but it is well known that he likes a good ease in the ground and that is rare enough at that meeting. I think hurdling is probably off the table for him at this stage.”
3 b c Shamardal – Hazariya
A half-brother to Harzand, he made a promising debut when second to Sir John Lavery in a maiden at Gowran Park in October. He is entered in the Derby and the Irish Derby.
“He’s a horse I like a lot and he has done well over the winter. He will possibly reappear in the mile-and-a-quarter maiden at Leopardstown on Wednesday. He’s ready to start and I expect him to run a nice race, but he’s a lovely laid-back colt at home and his coat is just a little bit more backward than you’d expect for a colt, so I expect that he will come on significantly for the run. Hopefully he’ll win a maiden and go on to a Classic trial from there. Longer term, the hope would be that he could progress into an Irish Derby horse. He’s a good ground horse, though will never want it firm.”
3 b f Tamayaz – Instant Sparkle
Rated 101, she won a maiden at Limerick and the Group 3 Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown last season.
“The plan was to have her out good and early for the Classic trials, but we had a holdup with her at the wrong time and I don’t think she’ll appear until the Irish 1,000 Guineas, which is her target. A mile is likely to be her trip and good ground will suit her, for all that she’ll never want it firm.”
4 ch c Iffraaj – Masiyma
Rated 93, he won a maiden at Galway and a winners’ race at Gowran Park last September.
“He did well last year and he should prove to be a good, hard-knocking horse for this campaign. He loves soft ground and a mile-and-a-quarter might be his best trip.”
3 ch c Galileo – Caumshinaun
An unraced full-brother to the Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Nightime, he is entered in the Derby.
“He’s a well-bred colt that is still very immature and will debut in the next couple of weeks. He should progress as the season goes on.”
QUEEN ANNE’S LACE
3 gr f Lonhro – Harpeth
Rated 96, she made a winning debut at Gowran Park in September and has since run well in Listed and Group 3 company, including when fourth in the Park Express Stakes at Naas on her seasonal reappearance in March.
“I thought she ran an excellent race in the Park Express Stakes at Naas, she was the first home of the three-year-olds and she kept at it well. I’d say the Salsabil Stakes at Naas is her most likely next race, but she will also be entered in the 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown on Saturday just on the off chance that there was a lot of rain, as she handles soft ground well and would have the advantage of race fitness. The Cheshire Oaks could be a race that would suit her after that.”
4 b f Lonhro – Daring Diva
Rated 101, she has won two of her three career starts and finished fourth in a Group 3 at Fairyhouse on her latest outing in July.
“She wasn’t right after her last start and came home lame. We decided to leave her off after that and she’s done very well over the winter. The reason she is being kept in training is get some black type for her and I’d be very hopeful she can get it. She’s a good ground filly and she’s likely to reappear in late-May. I think she’ll stay a mile this year.”
ROSE DE PIERRE
4 b f Dubawi – Profound Beauty
Rated 102, she won three of her five starts last season including a Listed race at Cork in August.
“She will either reappear in the Heritage Stakes at Leopardstown on Wednesday or wait for the Gladness Stakes at Naas on Sunday. She’s in good shape and should represent us well. She’s still a bit immature and I think she’ll reach her peak during the summer months. She’s a good ground filly that doesn’t want extremes of ground. A mile is her trip.”
4 b f Dubawi – Shareen
Rated 108, she proved to be very progressive last season, winning the Group 2 Blandford Stakes at the Curragh on her final start of the campaign.
“She’s only just arrived back here recently. The big hope will be to get her to improve from Group 2 company up to Group 1 level, but it is a big step to make. Races like the Pretty Polly Stakes will be on her agenda, but she is an adaptable filly and would be a candidate to travel abroad to race in Group 1 company.”
4 b g Dr Fong – Sindiyma
Rated 97, he won a maiden at the Galway Festival prior to finishing second in the Irish Cambridgeshire last year. He ran below form when sent off favourite for the Irish Lincoln on his seasonal reappearance.
“He was disappointing in the Irish Lincoln, but he had been a consistent horse last season and I think he just got caught out by the lack of a run. In many ways he typifies where many of ours are at the moment in terms of forwardness. We’ll look for another handicap for him, hopefully on better ground. The hope would be that he can progress into a stakes performer and I think he will.”
3 b c Frankel – Society Hostess
An unraced half-brother to the useful sprinter Sailors Swan from the family of Refuse To Bend. He is entered in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Irish Derby.
“He could well make his debut in the mile maiden at Leopardstown next Saturday. He’s a well-bred colt that was very backward as a two-year-old and is coming forward nicely now. I will expect him to need the run at Leopardstown, but I also expect him to be a very nice colt going forward from there.”
SORELLE DELLE ROSE
3 gr f Dark Angel – Kelsey Rose
Made a promising debut when a close third to Wayside Flower in a maiden at Naas in October.
“She ran a lovely race on her debut at Naas last season. She still needs to come in her coat, but she’s likely to run at the weekend at either Leopardstown or Naas. Six furlongs up to a mile is likely to be her range of trip. Good ground should suit her.”
SWITCH IN TIME
3 b f Galileo – Switch
Made a promising debut when fifth in a maiden at Leopardstown in August.
“I thought she ran a nice race on debut last season. She had a slight setback after that run, but she was still very immature at the time, so I was happy to take my time with her and leave her off until this season. Like many of the fillies here, she still has to come in her coat, but she’ll reappear in a mile-and-a-quarter maiden in the next few weeks and will progress as the season goes on.”
3 b f Dansili – Portodora
Rated 97, she built on her promising debut when winning a maiden at Leopardstown in October.
“She’s a beautiful big filly that should improve as the season progresses. My present thoughts are that she could reappear in the Derrinstown Stud 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown in May. She is backward in her coat at the moment and hopefully she’ll come right in it in the coming weeks. I think she’s a good ground filly and I wouldn’t be thinking about anything further than a mile for her at present.”
THE GREY GATSBY
6 gr h Mastercraftsman – Marie Vision
Rated 117, he won the Prix du Jockey Club and the Irish Champion Stakes as a three-year-old for Kevin Ryan and has been acquitting himself well at the highest level since then. He joined Weld during the winter months.
“He came to me around Christmas time looking very well and is a credit to his previous trainer. He’s a tough campaigner with plenty of miles on the clock, but we’d hope that we can get him back to his former glory this season. I think we’ll look to start him off at a lower level and will look to find a suitable conditions race for him if we can. He wants firm ground, so we’ll be in no rush with him.”
4 b c Sea The Stars – Timabiyra
Rated 96, he made a winning debut in a maiden at Leopardstown in October 2015, but ran below expectations on his only start as a three-year-old in the Derrinstown Derby Trial at Leopardstown.
“I was disappointed that we didn’t get to see more of him last year. He had a slight setback after his run at Leopardstown, but he’s a huge big horse that was immature, so we just thought it would be best to take our time with him. He’s 16-3hh and seems to be growing into himself, so hopefully our patience will be rewarded this season. He could well end up in one of those big handicaps and hopefully he’ll progress as the season goes on.”
3 b c Dansili – Mirror Lake
Made a winning debut in a mile maiden at Leopardstown in October. He is entered in the Derby and the Irish Derby.
“He did his job well last year and he won his only start in good style. We had a holdup with him about three weeks ago and that is going to delay his return. Mind, he is a good ground horse, so such a setback at that stage is far from the end of the world for him. It’s hard to say where he fits in, but he could be an Irish 2,000 Guineas horse and I’d like to think he might progress to that level. I’d like to run him in a trial before then, but we’ll have to wait and see. A mile-and-a-quarter could well suit him in the longer term.”
3 b f Raven’s Pass – Spirit Of Tara
An unraced half-sister to Echo Of Light and Akarem, she realised €2m as a yearling and is entered in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and the Irish Oaks.
“She’s a well-bred filly and should be capable of winning her maiden. She should be effective at a mile to a mile-and-a-quarter. She should be out in about two weeks.”
3 b c Sea The Stars – Tarakala
A half-brother to the smart middle-distance performer Tarana, he shaped with promise on his debut in a maiden at Naas in March.
“I thought he ran a nice race at Naas and he is one that will progress as the season goes on. He started off over a mile, but I could see him staying a mile-and-a-half in due course. He’ll hopefully go and win his maiden and I would have hopes that he could make up into a stakes horse later in the year”
5 b c Shamardal – Sundus
Rated 105, he looked a top-class prospect when making a winning debut at Leopardstown in 2014 and bolting up in the Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial Stakes in April 2015, but he met with injury after that and only reappeared last October when second in a Listed race at Leopardstown.
“He has been frustrating, as he’s a very good horse, but has just had a serious of holdups and problems including a well-documented fracture when he was a three-year-old. I was satisfied with his comeback run at Leopardstown last season. He came there as if he was going to win, but he just got tired late on. Everything has gone fine with him so far this preparation and he’ll probably reappear in the Alleged Stakes later this month. The hope is to win a stakes race with him this year. A mile-and-a-quarter looks to be his trip, but there would be a possibility of trying him at a mile-and-a-half.”
5 b f Fastnet Rock – Nightime
Rated 115, she continued her progression last season by winning three of her four starts including the Group 3 Enterprise Stakes at Leopardstown on Irish Champions Weekend.
“She’s back and is in great form. She was very good last season and of course beat Found which was a fair performance. She likes a real ease in the ground and if she gets it in the second half of the season, I think there could be a really good Group race to be won with her. She’s entered in the Alleged Stakes later this month, but she is also in the Noblesse Stakes at Cork and is more likely to run there. ”
THE GREY GATSBY – High-profile recruit that should compete in Group 1 company.
ZHUKOVA – Talented mare that could well improve again this season.
FORGOTTEN RULES – A high-class stayer that should be a factor in Group 1 company.
EZIYRA – Group-winning juvenile that could be a Classic contender this season.
TITUS TEMPERA – Impressive maiden winner that looks one to follow.
HARIPOUR – Half-brother to Harzand that is open to significant improvement.