Shamreen on course to step up to Group One level at Chantilly

Dermot Weld passes €1million prizemoney mark in Ireland as stable recovers from virus

The recent resurgence in form of Dermot Weld’s string has taken the Curragh trainer over the €1 million prizemoney mark in Ireland this season and his sights are now set on some lucrative overseas Group One prizes.

With back-to-back victories in the Group Two Blandford Stakes under her belt, the Aga Khan-owned filly Shamreen could try to step up to top-flight success in the Prix de l’Opera at Chantilly on Sunday week.

“At the moment the plan is run her in the Opera. The other possibility is the EP Taylor Stakes at Woodbine (October 15th). I would imagine she will run in one of those or possibly both,” Weld said on Monday.

Shamreen is a 10-1 shot to successfully step up to the highest level in the Opera, a race for which Aidan O’Brien’s Winter is a 3-1 favourite.


Another Aga Khan-owned filly with Group One ambitions is Eziyra who landed the Enterprise Stakes over Irish Champions Weekend earlier this month.

“She will go for the Fillies & Mares at Ascot which has been a lucky race for us in the past,” confirmed Weld who won the British Champions Day contest in 2012 with Sapphire.

Virus problems

With the virus problems which blighted the first half of the flat campaign overcome, Weld is fourth in the flat trainer’s table having passed the €1million mark at the weekend.

It makes for much more encouraging signs for the four runners he sends to Galway for Tuesday’s action compared to the comparative summer festival lull the traditional ‘King of Ballybrit’ endured.

The quartet includes Scealai Aonair who carries the Presidential colours in an apprentice handicap where Robbie Downey takes the mount.

It's an Aga Khan-owned filly, Alaykha, who could have the best chance of the Weld runners in the concluding maiden. This one came up half a length short of High Language at Killarney last month when starting favourite. She can get the better of the 95 rated Bound who has had plenty of chances up to now.

High Language is among a dozen fillies and mares chasing black type in the Listed Ardilaun Oyster Stakes. They include the in-foal Grade One winning hurdler Airlie Beach who is likely to have her final start. But with ground conditions sure to be testing it's the filly with a Listed flat victory already under her best who can emerge best.

Red Stars won the Lenebane Stakes at Roscommon last year and hasn't had similarly soft going in her three starts to date in 2017.

Prix de l’Arc

In other news plans are fluid for the Weld-trained Zhukova who is a general 33-1 shot in ante-post betting for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The English and Irish Oaks winner Enable continues to dominate the top of the Arc market and her opposition at Chantilly on Sunday week could include Zarak, the Group One winning son of the 2008 champion, Zarkava.

However Zarak’s stable companion Shakeel won’t make the Arc having picked up an injury when winning the Grand Prix de Paris in July.

Found led home a famous clean-sweep for Aidan O’Brien a year ago and the champion trainer has a handful of Arc options this time including Saturday’s St Leger hero Capri as well as Highland Reel who was runner-up in 2016.

However it is Ascot’s Champion Stakes next month which is in the sights of Curragh trainer Ken Condon for his stable star Success Days. “He’s been wonderful for us, winning Group races each year for the past three seasons,” Condon reported. “The owner is keen to have one more crack at a Group One so we’ll head to Ascot and we should have more of a chance of getting his ground.”

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column