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 2014 and 2015, saddling an array of stakes winners both at home and abroad. He looks to have a highly-promising team of three-year-olds to go to war with in 2016 and with the Group 1 winner Fascinating Rock 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 attheraces.com to discuss his team's prospects for the coming season.
4 b f Sea The Stars - Aliya
Rated 100, she won a maiden at the Galway Festival by 19 lengths prior to finishing second in Listed races at Galway and Naas.
"She was stakes placed for us last year and the main objective is to get her to win at that level this year. She should be effective from a mile-and-a-half to a mile-and-three-quarters. She will always appreciate a nice ease in the ground and she's a filly that will be seen to best effect in the second half of the season."
4 b c Cape Cross - Askeria
Rated 97, he won a maiden at the Curragh on the opening day of the 2015 season and was absent until finishing fourth in a Listed race at Leopardstown in October. He was found to be coughing after disappointing when sent off favourite for the Irish Lincoln on his return to action.
"He disappointed in the Irish Lincoln and came home with a upper respiratory tract infection. Aside from that, Pat felt he wasn't enjoying the ground and doesn't think he'll want it quite as soft as that in future, but he will never want it firm either. We've decided to give him a nice break and have had him gelded since his run. Who knows what the ground will be like in the summer, but there is a premier handicap at the Curragh on Irish Derby weekend that might suit."
5 b h Kitten's Joy - Celestial Woods
Rated 111, he was a high-class performer when trained by Chad Brown in America, most notably winning the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita in 2014. He joined Weld earlier this year and made an impressive start for him when winning a Listed race at Cork in March.
"He was very impressive at Cork and it's onwards and upwards with him. He didn't win when trained in America last year, so I was keen to get him back to winning ways and he did it in style. While he wouldn't want the ground as testing as it was at Cork, he did have a few hard races on very firm ground in America and he's a big heavy horse, so my opinion is that he will appreciate an ease in the ground. We are likely to keep him to six and seven furlongs and the hope is that he could develop into a Group 1 horse in due course, with a race like the Prix De La Foret on Arc day appealing as being a smashing race for him in the longer term. The Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh is his next target."
3 b c Raven's Pass - Ebadiyla
Made a winning debut at Galway in September prior to finishing fifth in the Eyrefield Stakes at Leopardstown in October.
"He's a colt I like. He won well on debut at Galway and while he disappointed slightly in the Eyrefield, I think that was a particularly strong renewal of that race. He was quite immature and babyish last season, but we're pleased with his progress over the winter. He is working nicely and will reappear in the Ballysax Stakes where I think he will give a good account of himself. He should get a mile-and-a-half and he'll always need a nice ease in the ground."
3 b c Shamardal - Emiyna
Made an eye-catching debut when a never-nearer neck second to Moonlight Magic in a maiden at Cork in October and made a winning return to action in a maiden on the opening day of the season at the Curragh.
"He'd been working very well prior to his return at the Curragh and he reproduced what he had been showing at home on track by winning well. He's isn't an overly big or robust colt, so I would like to give him a bit of time in between his races. The Tetrarch Stakes in early-May is a logical next step for him and depending on how he gets on there, we'll see where he fits in. He could be one for the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot or he could be good enough to be considered for an Irish or French 2,000 Guineas."
3 b f Oasis Dream - Trojan Queen
Made a winning debut in a maiden at Navan in October.
"She won well at Navan last season. While the Salsabil Stakes back at Navan is the logical starting point for her, she did herself very well over the winter, is a bit backward in her coat and just isn't as well forward as some of our others, so it'll just be a case of doing our best to get her there in as good form as possible. She'll always need a cut in the ground, which is why I'd like to get her out early. She could develop into an Irish Oaks filly."
5 b c Fastnet Rock - Miss Polaris
Rated 123, he gained the first Group 1 win of his career in the British Champions Stakes at Ascot in October.
"He will reappear in the Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh and while I hope he'll run very well, it is important to note that he's a very hard horse to get fit first time up, as he showed when running below form on his return from a break at Windsor last season. I'll have him as straight as I can going there, but whatever he does should put him right for his main early-season target which is the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh. He'll never want the ground to be too firm, good ground will be fine for him."
3 ch c Zamindar - Tates Creek
Made an encouraging debut when a never-nearer second to Queen Blossom at Cork in September.
"He's a nice colt that ran a pleasing race in his only start last year and that form has been well boosted by the winner since. He'll appear in a maiden in the next two weeks and will go from there. Hopefully he'll be a Listed-class horse and he should be adaptable in terms of ground conditions."
6 b g Nayef - Utterly Heaven
Rated 112, he won the Group 3 Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan prior to finishing a close third in the Ascot Gold Cup in June.
"We are going to take our time with him, as we were a little bit held up with him in recent months with small issues. He doesn't go on firm ground so we aren't even going to consider the Ascot Gold Cup. As well as the ground being against him in the Ascot Gold Cup last season, he didn't help himself by racing a bit freely at times and just didn't quite get the trip as a result. He'll be in the picture for all the major staying races in the second half of the season."
3 ch c English Channel - Flashy Four
Made a promising winning debut when bolting up at Killarney in July. He hasn't run since.
"He was a big immature horse last season and he did well to win his only start last season. He enjoys fast ground and should win more races before he goes back to America to continue his career later in the season."
3 br c Sea The Stars - Hazariya
Made an encouraging debut at Gowran Park in September and created an excellent impression when winning a maiden at Cork by 16 lengths on his return to action in March.
"He ran well in his only start last year and had been working well prior to winning impressively on what was testing ground at Cork last weekend. He's potentially a very nice staying colt and I'd like to bring him along steadily if the programme book allows me to. The further he goes, the better he'll be, and he'll always like an ease in the ground."
4 b f Dubawi - Majestic Silver
Made an impressive winning debut at Gowran Park in April prior to showing promise in the Irish 1000 Guineas. She shaped nicely when finishing third on her return to action in the Park Express Stakes at the Curragh in March.
"She ran a very nice race in the Park Express Stakes at the Curragh and her next run will be in the Gladness Stakes on Sunday. She is very well bred and while I was happy to get her Group placed, I'd like to win a stakes race with her. She has plenty of pace and I might bring her back to seven furlongs at some stage. She likes soft ground."
3 gr f Dark Angel - Capulet Monteque
Rated 102, she won a maiden at Leopardstown in August and finished second in a Listed race at Fairyhouse in September.
"She did well last year and I'll probably start her off in the Listed Committed Stakes at Navan. If she goes well there, that will set her up nicely for the Group 3 for three-year-olds only at Naas. I see her as a six-furlong filly."
3 b c Paco Boy - Tereshkina
Made a promising debut when second to Dinozzo in a maiden at Navan in October.
"He ran a nice race at Navan and has done well over the winter. He looks sure to win his maiden and I'd see him as a mile-and-a-quarter horse in the making."
4 b c Sea The Stars - Rose Quartz
Rated 99, he won his first three starts including a Listed race at Leopardstown prior to disappointing in the Irish Derby.
"He did us proud last year. The ground was very quick in the Irish Derby and he came home a very sore horse, which is why he didn't run again last season. He'll always want a nice ease in the ground and he'll probably reappear in the Martin Molony Stakes at Limerick."
3 b f Lonhro - Daring Diva
Made an impressive winning debut in a maiden at the Curragh in October.
"She is a bit backward in her coat and we might start her off in the Derrinstown Stud 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown, as that will just give us an extra few weeks which is what she needs. She's a good ground filly and should be up to earning black type."
ROSE DE PIERRE
3 b f Dubawi - Profound Beauty
An unraced filly that is the first foal out of the high-class staying mare Profound Beauty. She is entered in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and the Irish Oaks.
"She's a well-bred filly that was very immature and weak last year, but she has strengthened very well over the winter. She's coming forward nicely and if I was to pick an unraced one to follow, it would be her."
3 b f Dubawi - Tanoura
Won a maiden and the Group 3 Silver Flash Stakes, both at Leopardstown, prior to finishing fourth to Minding in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh.
"She was very good last season, but she has been a little bit slow to come to hand and while no decision has been made yet, it's unlikely she'll run in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket. She could well end up starting back in the Irish 1,000 Guineas. She is pacey, but there is plenty of stamina in her pedigree, so we won't be rushing her for the early part of the season as she could well end up stepping up to a mile-and-a-quarter in the likes of the Pretty Polly."
3 b c Sea The Stars - Timabiyra
Rated 92, he made a winning debut in a maiden at Leopardstown in October.
"He is a magnificent big horse. He won nicely at Leopardstown and has done well over the winter. I'm not in any hurry with him, but he is pleasing us and if he continues to please us, he will run in the Derrinstown Derby Trial at Leopardstown. He is a big long-striding horse, but he's out of a Linamix mare and like many of those I think he will appreciate a little bit of ease in the ground. I think he's a very nice horse, but he is 16-2hh and over 500kg, so I'm purposely taking my time with him."
3 b c Oasis Dream - Majestic Silver
Rated 110, he won a maiden at the Galway Festival prior to going close in the Willis Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown and the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh.
"He's a tough cookie that was very consistent all season. All being well, he'll reappear in the 2,000 Guineas Trial Stakes at Leopardstown and we'll go from there with him. I can see him getting a mile-and-a-quarter and he'll always be well suited to a sound surface."
3 ch f Dutch Art - Zafayra
Made a winning debut in a maiden at the Curragh in August prior to finishing fourth in a Listed race at the Curragh in October.
"She was fourth in a Listed race last year and the obvious plan is to try and get some black type with her. I think she'll get at least a mile-and-a-quarter, probably a mile-and-a-half, and I feel she is capable of winning at Listed level."
4 b f Azamour - Zanoubiya
Rated 102, she progressed nicely last season, winning the Group 3 Give Thanks Stakes at Cork and the Listed Trigo Stakes at Leopardstown.
"She was a model of consistency last year and her ability to battle really stood to her given that her two wins in stakes company were both by just a head. She could well reappear in the Noblesse Stakes at Leopardstown next month. In terms of ground, she will be fine on anything bar extremes. I hope she can improve again and could well get further than a mile-and-a-half."
4 b c Shamardal - Sundus
Rated 111, 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. He was strongly fancied for the Derby only to be ruled out by injury and hasn't run since.
"He is back in full training and is cantering every day. He hasn't missed a day since he came back, but I've no plans for him at the moment as we just want to take it day-by-day with him. All being well, we'll make a plan for him in a few weeks. He is a magnificent horse and we are delighted to have him back, so hopefully he'll keep going the way he is going."
4 b f Fastnet Rock - Nightime
Rated 100, she won a maiden at Navan and a Listed race at Galway last season.
"She could well reappear in the Alleged Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday and will come on from the run. She is a fine big filly that has done well over the winter and is adaptable in terms of ground."
3 b c Street Cry - Zori
Made a promising debut when just touched off in a maiden at Gowran Park in October.
"He's a big horse and we've had a little hold-up with him. He'll reappear in May and we'd hope he could develop into a stakes horse."
FASCINATING ROCK - One of the leading older horses in training in Ireland.
FORGOTTEN RULES - A high-class stayer that should be a factor in Group 1 company.
BOBBY'S KITTEN - An American import that could be a Group 1 sprinter.
ZAWRAQ - Very highly-regarded sort that is on the road to recovery after an injury.
TIRMIZI - An unbeaten three-year-old that could be a dark horse in the middle-distance division.
EMERGENT - An unbeaten three-year-old that is hoped to be an Irish Oaks type.
ROSE DE PIERRE - An unraced filly with a big pedigree that has shown ability at home.