Dermot Weld is not only one of Ireland’s greatest trainers, with an extraordinary tally of more than 3,000 winners, but he is also one of the most travelled.
The son of the late former trainer Charles Weld, he boasts big-race winners on four continents.
But perhaps his proudest moment arrived in 2016 when he saddled Harzand to win the Investec Derby, having been trying to win the race since first taking out a licence 44 years earlier. The colt overcame a late injury scare before taking the honours, adding to the drama.
Weld is a specialist at longer distance Flat races – although he also trains horses over the jumps – he has won every Irish Classic, including six St Legers, with Vinnie Roe winning a record four in succession. His British trophy cabinet includes the 2000 Guineas, Oaks, the Gold Cup in 2010 with Rite Of Passage and, over fences, the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.
A regular winner in the United States, he is the only European trainer to win a leg of the American Triple Crown, with Go And Go in the 1990 Belmont Stakes. He was also the first European to train the winner of Australia’s prestigious Melbourne Cup – the ‘race that stops a nation’. In fact, he’s done it twice.
His base at Rosewell House is yards from the entrance of the Curragh racecourse. But it is at Ballybrit, home of the Galway Races week-long festival, where his domination has become legendary – to the point that bookmakers Paddy Power launched a tongue-in-cheek campaign to rename the event the ‘Dermot Weld Retirement Fund Races’.
Weld is a qualified vet and former jockey. Indeed, he was a track vet at Belmont Park in America in the early 1970s.
His first Classic came with Blue Wind in the 1981 Oaks in England, the same horse claiming the Irish equivalent immediately afterwards. His 3,000th winner came in February 2005 when King Jock won in Dubai.
He enjoyed a tremendous QIPCO British Champions Day in 2012, winning the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup (Rite Of Passage) and the QIPCO British Champions Fillies And Mares Stakes (Sapphire), though both these horses have now been retired. He also won the 2013 Irish St Leger with a deeply impressive performance by Voleuse De Coeurs.
In 2014 he saddled Tarfasha to finish second in the Investec Oaks and won the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Lonsdale Cup with Pale Mimosa.
He also won the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup with the unbeaten Forgotten Rules and saddled Free Eagle for a fine third place in the QIPCO Champion Stakes.
The former returned to Ascot for the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes in 2015 and held on gallantly in the closing stages to land the spoils. Forgotten Rules also ran at the royal meeting, finishing third in the Gold cup.
However it was at British Champions Day where the combination of Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen came to the fore as Fascinating Rock caused something of a surprise when landing the QIPCO Champion Stakes.