Trainer on course to reach new heights in Ballybrit reign
KING of Ballybrit Dermot Weld reigned supreme at Galway last night with a spectacular 306/1 four-timer.
Weld, who trained 10 winners at last year's Festival, has already six winners at this year's meeting and it is not even at the halfway stage yet.
The wins -- from Universal Truth, Easy Mate, Zaminast, and Parlour -- underline Weld's unrivalled domination of Ballybrit and it means that his Majestic Concorde is sure to start a short-priced favourite for this afternoon's big race, the Galway Plate.
The Curragh trainer got off to an ideal start in the opening Topaz Maiden Hurdle as a keenly fought duel went the way of his Universal Truth, under the guidance of Robbie McNamara, as the favourite landed some decent wagers by holding off Drumfire.
Slicker jumping over the Easyfix obstacles was the trump card here for McNamara, as he had his mount in a lovely rhythm throughout, took over after the fourth last and then had enough up his sleeve to contain main market rival Drumfire's late rally.
"Universal Truth knew his job and jumped well for Robbie, who has won on each of his five rides on this horse. We won't overdo it this year and will look for a winners' hurdle and possibly the Irish Cesarewitch -- this could be a Cheltenham horse next spring," Weld said.
A couple of novice-like errors were no help to the ambitions of English import Drumfire and supporters of Eoin Griffin's charge in what looked an exceptional contest for this grade.
After that it was a case of the Weld winner-machine at the course moving into top gear as Easy Mate defied a welter burden for the Topaz Handicap in the hands of Leigh Roche to commence the mammoth Jackpot with a 12/1 surprise.
The master of Rosewell House registered his third winner of the evening when former champion Pat Smullen swooped late aboard debutante Zaminast (4/1) to deny 50/1 chance Ballybacka Lady in the fillies' juvenile maiden.
Ballybracka Lady held a good lead for much of the straight and, while she looked all over a winner, the well-bred Zaminast won by half a length.
Afterwards Weld stated: "Zaminast is potentially a very good filly and showed guts and determination to win today. She will have one more run as a two-year-old, in either the Moyglare Stakes or the CL Weld Park Stakes."
The latter -- home-bred by Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms -- is a half-sister to Famous Name, which has prospered greatly under Weld's tutelage and the same colours were carried to victory when Parlour sealed the four-timer in the closing maiden under Smullen with a two-length win over Purple Land.
"That win rounded off the day well," smiled Weld afterwards. "Parlour is an immature filly and is a bit weak and backward but she may be capable of gaining black type later in the year."