Weld takes a superior view of his Arc chance

John Cobb finds the trainer of Zagreb, Ireland's top colt, in confident mood

The breathtaking acceleration, the spurt away from outstanding contemporaries, the white stars on Allen Paulson's red and blue colours flashing past; Arazi and Cigar are the names on the scroll of Paulson horses that have given some of the most dazzling performances of the decade. Add Zagreb to the list.

When he careered away with the Irish Derby on the last day of June, Zagreb put six lengths between himself and a field that included the narrowly beaten runners-up in the Derby at Epsom and the Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly, Dushyantor and Polaris Flight.

The riders of that pair, Pat Eddery and John Reid, were striving so strenuously in pursuit that they did not have time to see which way Zagreb went. But Willie Carson, resigned to ninth place on Alhaarth, got a view, a somewhat distant view, of greatness.

"I'm telling you he's the best three-year-old in Europe," Carson said after catching his breath. "That was some performance."

When the official handicappers did their sums the next day they came to the same conclusion, placing Zagreb ahead of the Epsom and Chantilly winners, Shaamit and Ragmar, in their ledgers.

The rich summer pickings have gone now, fallen to others without Zagreb laying down a challenge. But the rains of autumn announce his return and he will be back on the racecourse a fortnight tomorrow, defending the Champion Stakes for Ireland at Leopardstown and then taking on Europe's elite in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on 6 October.

Many trainers would not have been capable of making the decision to keep a horse of Zagreb's talent away from the track during such a lucrative period of the season; the pressure to order an immediate strike with a horse in such devastating form proving too great a lure.

Fortunately for Zagreb he is in the care of Dermot Weld, who, having saddled winners on four continents, is not lacking in the self confidence required to resist temptation. "It was an easy decision really," he said this week. "He was a big, weak, and immature horse. Now, when a lot of horses are past their peak he'll just be reaching his."

Weld was speaking from a hotel in Killarney, his base for a week of racing at Tralee, one of the most popular stopping-off points on Ireland's circuit of festivals. Perhaps it was the serenity of the scenery, perhaps it was just the self-possession that comes with a quarter of a century of success in a profession, but Weld simply exuded confidence in Zagreb.

"I'm very happy with him," Weld said. "Mick [Kinane] rode him over a mile on Tuesday and he worked right away from the others. It was his first piece of work on grass since the Derby and Mick was very pleased.

"Zagreb had a very easy July. We had some warm weather and he enjoyed it. Now he's starting again, but he's very clean-winded and is easy to get fit.

"He'll go for the Irish Champion and then Longchamp. I entered him for the Arc in May and he was the only three-year-old I entered, which was significant. I knew then he had an awful lot of talent."

Zagreb has raced just three times, showing such dramatic improvement to win the Irish Derby that the curve marking his rate of progress is almost vertical. It is an awesome thought to consider for those preparing his rivals.

"He'll stay in training next year," Weld said. "It's been discussed with his owners. I'd like to think he will be much better then.

"I'm looking out on one of the most beautiful scenes in the whole world, not just Ireland, the upper lake in Killarney. There's a little fishing boat away on the other side of the lake and 40 miles of mountains behind. Everything is calm and serene." Some prospect, some horse.

Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Rock to play DC character in superhero film
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Legal Cashier - Oxford

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Legal Cashier - Oxford We have an excellent ...

Legal Cashier - Oxford

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Legal Cashier - Oxford We have an excellent ...

Production and Merchandising Assistant

£19,000 - £21,000: Sauce Recruitment: A contemporary, original wholesale distr...

PPC Account Managers

£25k - £30k (DOE): Guru Careers: Two expert PPC Account Managers are needed to...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor