Veteran Trainer Dermot Weld Eying 25th Classic Success

Aidan O’Brien may hog all the flat racing headlines in the modern era, but he isn’t the only Irish trainer accustomed to global success. County Kildare maestro Dermot Weld has been landing major international events for over 40 years, and it seems the 75-year-old isn’t finished yet.

Boasting wins in Ireland, Britain, Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, and the US throughout his illustrious career, Weld’s headline overseas victories include the Prix de l’Abbaye, the Hong Kong Mile, the Italian Derby, the Belmont Stakes, the Breeders’ Cup Turf and two Melbourne Cups – a race which has so far eluded O’Brien despite his best efforts.

The Classic Collection

In addition to those overseas jaunts, Weld has made a huge splash closer to home – racking up a total of 24 wins in the British and Irish Classics, with his previous accomplishments consisting of:

  • 9 Irish St Leger Wins
  • 6 Irish 1,000 Guineas Wins
  • 3 Irish Derby Wins
  • 2 Irish Oaks Wins
  • 1 Irish 2,000 Guineas Win
  • 1 2,000 Guineas Win
  • 1 Epsom Derby Win
  • 1 Epsom Oaks Win

More To Come

Still going strong at an age when most would be reaching for the pipe and slippers, Weld continues to receive the support of powerful owners – most notably the Aga Khan, whose famous Green Silks with Red Epaulettes are a regular sight at many of the biggest Group 1 events. With that backing and a host of regally bred sorts in his yard, Weld must be optimistic about reaching the quarter century of Classic wins. He might not need to wait long to do it, with the septuagenarian set to send a couple of live challengers to the upcoming Irish 2,000 Guineas and Epsom Oaks.

Azada Takes Aim at Curragh Showpiece

First successful with Prince’s Polly in 1982 and most recently with Tahiyra in 2023, Weld turns to the Aga Khan-owned Azada as he bids to land Irish 1,000 Guineas number seven.

With just one win to her name, Azada is the least experienced contender in the field, but she could scarcely have made a more favourable impression in that debut outing at Leopardstown. Despite losing ground when missing the break, Azada soon found her best stride in the straight to mow them all down on her way to a two-and-a-half-length success. By a sire in Siyouni who has already produced winners of the Irish 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas, Azada looks set to be a popular each-way option at around the 16/1 mark.

All Eys on Ezeliya at Epsom

Azada looks like an appealing prospect at the Curragh on Sunday 26 May, but the compilers rate Oaks prospect Ezeliya as Weld’s best chance of Classic success. At a general price of 9/2, she sits behind only Ylang Ylang in most lists, and it’s easy to see why the layers have cottoned on to her claims. Beautifully bred – being by super sire Dubawi and out of a Group 2 winning mare – Ezeliya managed to land a maiden last season despite looking a little inexperienced.

Her recent return in the Group 3 Salsabil Stakes suggested she is now becoming the finished article. Switched to the outside in the straight, she took a little while to hit top stride but was ultimately well on top at the line and looked value for more than the half-length winning margin. The fact that Dubawi is yet to sire an Epsom Classic winner provides a slight question mark, but Weld will hope this improving filly has the answers.