Dermot Weld hails 'special' feeling after second Oaks win 43 years after his first

Chris Hayes celebrates as Ezeliya crosses the line in the Betfred Oaks at Epsom (Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra via Beat Media Group subscription)
Chris Hayes celebrates as Ezeliya crosses the line in the Betfred Oaks at Epsom (Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra via Beat Media Group subscription)

By Elise Hamersley

Chris Hayes wasn't born when Dermot Weld last won The Oaks but the jockey produced a masterclass on Ezeliya to roll back the years for his evergreen trainer.

Blue Wind landed the master trainer’s first Oaks triumph in 1981 and 43 years on, Ezeliya stormed a furlong clear to gift the 75-year-old handler a 25th Classic win across both sides of the Irish Sea.

Winning jockey Hayes, 36, may not have taken his first breath when Blue Wind crossed the line but he offered a masterclass in timing to carry the three-year-old home at just the right moment on Epsom's hallowed turf.

Weld said: “I always have confidence in my own filly.

“I thought Chris Hayes gave her a peach of a ride, had her in a beautiful position throughout the race.

“It’s a very special day, the competition is very keen nowadays and we are very fortunate to have a filly as good as this.

“She is a beautiful filly to train.

“I said to Chris ‘ride her with confidence and take your time before you let her go’.

“I was never worried about the distance; she is a stayer with speed.”

Weld has accumulated a long-list of legendary accolades across his lengthy career, becoming the first European trainer to saddle the winner of the prestigious Melbourne Cup in 1993 and holding the all-time Irish winning most trainer record until broken by Willie Mullins last month.

Epsom Downs has always been a special place for Weld and he shows no signs of slowing down.

The trainer rode and trained the winner of the 1975 amateurs' Derby, Lane Court, and his insight into the contours of the track is still paying dividends 49 years later.

He said: “I’ve been very fortunate, that’s my 25th English or Irish Classic and they are the pinnacle, it’s what we do it for.

“Give me a Classic any day of the week, that’s what we are remembered for – and I have been very fortunate.

“They are all special, any Classic you win is very special.”

Hayes is no stranger to Classic success either and enjoyed every moment of his Oaks triumph.

He said: “It’s a little bit surreal.

“When you dream of the way things work out and if you ever got an opportunity to win these races, that was it.

“From the moment I got on her, she never turned a hair, she settled so cool and was chilled out at the back of the gate.

“It was slow-motion stuff going around on her.

“I was looking up at the markers – I couldn’t believe how well I was travelling down.”

Weld and Hayes’ triumph formed one half of a Group 1 Irish clean sweep at the first day of the Derby Festival.

Luxembourg earned a fourth Group 1 victory through the hands of Ryan Moore in the Coronation Cup.

The five-year-old held strong in the final stretch for his first win at a mile and a half despite valiant contender Hamish grinding down the distance until the end.

Winning trainer Aidan O’Brien said: “We probably ran him too short to be fair to him (earlier in the year).

“We asked him to do things that wasn’t fair to him. Ryan felt like he was a lot better than those runs.

“I think he could be a King George horse. He gets a mile and a half well and he loves fast ground.”

O’Brien has three contenders in tomorrow’s Derby as City of Troy, looking to bounce back from Guineas disappointment at Newmarket, and Los Angeles lead the market.