Weld hoping Homeless Songs can deliver a landmark Classic success

Famed Curragh trainer’s charge favourite for Sunday’s Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas

Dermot Weld's exciting filly Homeless Songs is on course for Sunday's Tattersalls Irish 1, 000 Guineas where she could deliver her trainer a landmark 20th Curragh Classic success.

It is 40 years since Prince's Polly supplied Weld with a first Irish 1,000 Guineas victory and he has won the fillies' Classic three more times since, most recently with the Pat Smullen-ridden Bethrah in 2010.

Along with Flash Of Steel's 2, 000 Guineas victory in 1986, a pair of Oaks victories, as well as a trio of Derby wins, are a record nine successes in the Leger.

It is a notable catalogue for the man who trains little more than a stone’s throw from the racecourse and is approaching 4,500 career winners in all.


Homeless Songs contributed to that tally when landing Leopardstown's Guineas Trial at the start of last month.

Having skipped both the English 1, 000 Guineas, and Sunday's Poule D'Essai de Pouliches at Longchamp, she gets her classic shot at home and is an 11-4 ante-post favourite with some firms.

"We are satisfied with her progress and she's currently all set for the Curragh on Sunday. Chris Hayes rides.

“We decided a while ago we’d go for the Curragh and we’ve stuck to our plan. It looks like being a good renewal of the race. She wants nice ground which I think it will be at the weekend,” Weld said on Monday.

The Curragh’s Guineas festival starts on Friday with a card that includes the Group Three Heider Gallinule Stakes as well as the €150,000 William Hill Emerald Mile Handicap.

Weld's Duke De Sessa features among 17 entries left in the Gallinule on Monday but is also likely to be kept in Saturday's 2,000 Guineas at Tuesday's important acceptance stage.

The Curragh’s 2022 classic campaign gets under way with officials keen to make the most of a clear run at the big race season. Action at Irish racing’s HQ largely took place behind closed doors in the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

That came on the back of a €81.2 million redevelopment of the track with the biggest capital project in Irish racing history officially opened in 2019.

Fresh start

A series of problems dogged the flagship project almost immediately, including the departure of chief executive Derek McGrath that year.

He cited a lack of unity within racing about the best long-term future for a facility that received €36 million of Government funding.

The former Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) boss Brian Kavanagh took over the running of the Curragh last autumn and has described the new season as a fresh start with a focus in particular on attracting local people to go racing there.

The revamped facility can host up to 30,000 yet struggled to cope with an attendance of just 12,000 at the 2019 Derby meeting.

Kavanagh said on Monday he hasn’t specific crowd targets for the weekend Group One action.

“The main target is that people enjoy themselves with good racing and a good atmosphere. It has been two years of disruption following the opening in 2019 so we’re really looking forward to it. There’s been shadow boxing for the start of the season but the Group One action starts now,” he said.

“I think the racing will be superb. We have increased the prizemoney wherever possible and hopefully that will attract the good horses. We will know that tomorrow,” Kavanagh added.

That’s when the latest acceptance stage will take place although an uncertain weather outlook could be tricky for some connections.

The going at the Curragh was mainly ‘good’ on Monday but with up to 15mms of rainfall forecast for up to Wednesday morning. More heavy rain could fall later in the week.

Native Trail is an odds-on favourite for the colts classic and is already a Group One winner at the track having landed last season’s National Stakes.

The prospect of some ease in the conditions could see Angel Bleu, twice a winner at the top level in France last season, take on the Godolphin star. Frankie Dettori is Angel Bleu's usual partner and it has emerged the Italian rider has been snapped up to ride Donnacha O'Brien's Derby hope Piz Badile at Epsom next month.

The Ballysax winner has been ridden in all three career starts to date by Gavin Ryan. Dettori’s booking saw Piz Badile’s Derby odds cut to 9-1 by some firms.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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