Saturday 18 November 2017

Dermot Weld comes up trumps at Galway even when he's not winning

John Moloney
John Moloney

Dermot Weld has won top races all over the world and is proud of it. He chartered new territory and bucked the trend to win some of them for which he is still a household name in faraway fields.

Despite all his international success and his incredible haul of winners in his native land, Weld has a particular fondness for the last week in July and proceedings at Galway.

Weld trained some of his first big winners at Ballybrit and rode some there too and it is a love affair that has made him Leading Trainer at the Galway Festival on 29 occasions in 30 years.

A lot of things have changed in that time, not least the dynamic of the Galway Festival where the races have got even more prestigious and winning them has become more difficult.


Weld had the warning signs signalled before the entries were even out for this year's meeting as he declared his team wasn't as strong as previous years and he was proved right as Willie Mullins trained eight winners for the week, Tony Martin six, and Weld himself five.

No need to go back and read the first few paragraphs again. Dermot Weld was Leading Trainer last week and Willie Mullins did train three more winners than the master of Rosewell House.

The reason that doesn't make sense but does at Galway is that their system rewards trainers with five points for a winner, three for a second and one for a third.

Despite what some might want you to believe, this wasn't just introduced this year in conjunction with Weld's concerns over the depth of his team, but due to his superiority at the meeting every year it was never an issue before.

It is certainly a flawed system, however, that will hopefully be addressed for next season.

At the moment, a trainer who has more seconds than another trainer had winners could be crowned the Leading Trainer and while we all know that is extremely unlikely to ever happen, surely the person who trains the most winners, with such an award, should be deemed the winner.

Over the course of the week Weld had 33 runners compared to Mullins' 29 so it was a fair achievement by Mullins who unleashed some frighteningly impressive novice hurdlers that can only leave us purring over what might be in store when the jump season really gets going.

The Leading Trainer debate aside, Galway was again another success with attendances tipping over the 140,000 mark for the week, the bookmakers totals were up as were those numbers released by the Tote and it is a credit to outgoing manager John Moloney that it is such a successful week in Irish racing and in Irish sport.

Moloney now hands over to the reins to his son Michael and it will be no easy task for him to follow in his father's footsteps.


Unlike some racecourse managers, Moloney really understands the game and in saying his goodbyes to the press last week he thanked us all for our coverage and for "writing it the way it had to be written, even if sometimes I didn't agree with it" and it was that sort of honesty and acceptance of issues that helped him make Galway into one of the finest racecourses, in terms of facilities, that this country has to offer.

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