When one of the true pioneers of international racing says a horse is capable of running well it generally pays to listen.
And, as the year of Winx, Enable and Almond Eye draws to a close, globetrotting Irish trainer Dermot Weld feels Eziyra can further advertise what fillies can do in elite company when she tackles the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin on 9 December.
Weld has always been internationally minded and took global racing to a new level as long ago as the early 1990’s by sending Go And Go and Vintage Crop on long-distance journeys to land the Belmont Stakes in America and the Melbourne Cup in Australia.
Three-year-old colt Additional Risk gave Weld a significant Hong Kong success by landing the inaugural Invitation Bowl in 1991 and the 70-year-old handler, who has saddled over 4,000 winners, is expecting Eziyra to outrun her international rating of 111 after switching her from the Hong Kong Cup (2000m) to the Vase (2400m).
“We are pleased with Eziyra,” he said. “She has come out of her race in America (sixth in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf on 3 November) very well and is all set to run in the Vase.”
Eziyra could never land a blow from a wide draw at Churchill Downs but Weld retains faith in her ability to contend at G1 level.
“She may be one of the lowest rated in the race, but she is a very consistent filly and a very good filly who has won five Group races and is multiple G1-placed – she was beaten by Enable in the Irish Oaks in 2017 and ran an excellent race to be third in the Yorkshire Oaks this year,” he added. “She is adaptable and I think she will represent us well at the Hong Kong International Races.”
Weld is justifiably proud of his global credentials and looks back fondly on his first Sha Tin success almost 30 years ago.
“I had runners at the Hong Kong International meeting in 1991 and won what is now the Hong Kong Mile with Additional Risk. He belonged to Moyglare Stud and was ridden by Michael Kinane, and in fact he set a track record,” the handler recalled.
“I brought two horses to Hong Kong that year and the other, Prudent Manner, finished second in what was then the Hong Kong Invitation Cup. It was a good day. Hong Kong racing has developed fantastically over the years since then and that is a great credit to the organisation and management.”