There are Grand Slams … and there are Grand Slams … and while Dermot Weld’s latest achievement might not slip snuggly into one of the more recognised, formally accepted sporting Grand Slams, it certainly ranks as high, or even above, that lofty level of success.
When Tarnawa stormed home to win the Longines $4 million, Group 1 Breeder’s Cup Turf she finally ticked off a box on the Weld’s wallchart that had long been left vacant.
Weld saddled his first Breeders’ Cup starter in 1985. He had another fifteen runners over the next thirty-four years without been able to find a Breeders’ Cup winner but his combination of persistence and expertise finally paid off this year to the absolute credit of an icon within the world of racehorse trainers.
So, just what list of Weld winners does the Breeders’ Cup success line up with to bring in any talk of a Grand Slam like achievement?
Firstly, Weld took out the 1990 Belmont Stakes with the Irish-bred Go And Go and he still remains the only European trainer to have ever won a Triple Crown race in the USA.
Secondly, as we all know so well, Weld pioneered the International assault on the Melbourne Cup and he broke the mould when he became the first European trainer to win the Cup with Vintage Crop in 1993 , a feat he repeated for a second time with Media Puzzle in 2002.
Weld is also the first European trainer to have saddled a winner at the Hong Kong International races. That accolade came in 1991 with the victory of Additional Risk in the Hong Kong Mile.
Back home, Weld’s winners in Great Britain and Ireland provide simply too long to a list to post here. Suffice to say, it includes the Epsom Derby, the Epsom Oaks, the Golden Jubilee, the 2000 Guineas, the Ascot Gold Cup, the St James Palace Stakes, the Triumph Hurdle … and so many more.
If that is not a four continent grand slam, I don’t know what is.
The Breeders’ Cup provided just another great result for a great trainer … and the fact that Weld was breaking his duck in the Breeders’ Cup thirty-five years after first taking aim at it shows that there is always one more challenge waiting down the line … and that there has been no better trainer than Dermot Weld in walking through walls to take on what, not that long ago, would have been deemed mission impossible.