Leading Irish trainer Dermot Weld has paid tribute to the recently deceased Vintage Crop and named the 1993 Melbourne Cup winner as a true pioneer of ‘the race that stops a nation’.
Weld prepared Vintage Crop throughout his storied racing career and it was his inspiration that saw the champion stayer given the opportunity to compete against the best stayers in Australia in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
The veteran trainer told RSN this morning that it took over a year of planning to get Vintage Crop to Australia for the Melbourne Cup and he revealed that he considers the Rousillon gelding unlucky not to have won the race on multiple occasions.
“He was an amazing horse and as you know he was a pioneer,” Weld said.
“He would have won it the year before except that it wasn’t possible to bring him there due to quarantine rules.
“It took us a year to get all that arranged and an awful lot of work had to be done to change everything and allow this horse to be able to run in the race.
“He ran three times; the second year he was injured and the third year he came back and was third; he was a nine-year-old and he was beaten by Doriemus and Nothin’ Leica Dane.
“I always thought that he was even better the year that he was third and he put up a fabulous performance and if it wasn’t for interference over the far side than he would definitely have won it for a second time.”
Weld subsequently won the 2002 edition of the Melbourne Cup with Media Puzzle and he holds the record for the most winners trained in Ireland, but the 65-year-old believes that the 1993 victory of Vintage Crop was the greatest training performance of his career.
The Melbourne Cup has become dominated by European-trained stayers in the past fifteen years and Weir said that the success of Vintage Crop that made the entire racing world first take notice of Australia’s most popular race.
“I think what it did was that it internationalized the Melbourne Cup,” Weir said of Vintage Crop’s win.
“It is hard for some Australians to appreciate and realize that it wasn’t that well known around the world and Vintage Crop more than anything really moved the Melbourne Cup to where it deserves to be and where it is as the major international race that it is now.”
Weld did not have a runner in the 2013 edition of the Melbourne Cup, although he was the trainer of Voleuse De Coeurs before she was purchased by Eliza Park International, but he finished 20th in the 2012 Melbourne Cup with Galileo’s Choice.