In June Harzand finally brought to an end Dermot Weld's quest for Epsom Derby success, and the legendary trainer could have a contender for next year's 'blue-riband' too, after the newcomer Titus made a hugely promising start to his career at Leopardstown yesterday.
It’s been almost 45 years since Weld saddled his first winner at the now defunct Baldoyle track and, though a world renowned career produced a litany of global successes, it’s reasonable to assume Harzand’s Epsom win holds a singular status in his affections.
A decision on whether Harzand retires to stud or races in 2017 is expected shortly and, though Weld’s focus remains on the future, with just three fixtures to go in the present flat season, he was in reflective mood after Making Light’s Group Three Killavullan Stakes victory.
"It's been a wonderful year. Even apart from Harzand's two derbies we've had 10 group winners, saddled our 4,000th winner and the horses have been at it right through from the spring," he said. "Pat Smullen has ridden brilliantly too. It's been a long season but a very special one."
Weld has had 85 winners and secured almost €2.9 million in prize money in Ireland alone this season. Making Light was the sole filly in the season’s final group race and the 3-1 joint-favourite emerged a length ahead of the colts, leaving her trainer to predict a classic trial for her back at Leopardstown in the spring. The other joint-favourite, Holistic Approach, was last and was coughing afterwards.
Leopardstown’s back-end maidens have an illustrious history of producing future classic champions and even if Titus won by just half a length, Weld wasn’t alone in taking the positives from a promising start.
“He’s a gorgeous big horse, 16.2, and we like him a lot. He’s immature and I think today is a bonus. He can only improve. What I like about him is he’s big and looks like he’ll stay but he isn’t short of pace. He’ll be back here for a classic trial,” said the trainer.
Titus was immediately given 33-1 Derby quotes and, considering Harzand’s sole juvenile start yielded a fifth at Gowran, this was a performance full of promise even if the Dansili colt’s time was returned over four seconds slower than White Satin Dancer in the preceding fillies maiden.
Her trainer David Wachman will hand in his licence when the season winds up back at Leopardstown on Saturday and if White Satin Dancer proves to be the classic winner's final success it will have been an impressive one.
Joe Murphy has enjoyed his best season numerically and Flying Fairies added some Listed glory when landing the Trigo Stakes under Gary Carroll. The Co Tipperary trainer is already eyeing the start of next year's turf campaign, and the Park Express Stakes, as a target for the winner.