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.

News
news
Voices
voicesThe Ukip leader on why he's done nothing illegal
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Sport
video
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
News
Supermarkets are running out of Easter Eggs
Deals make eggs cheaper than normal chocolate
Arts & Entertainment
artYouth club owner says mural is 'gift from the sky' so he can prevent closure of venue
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Senior Infrastructure Consultant

£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...

Public Sector Audit - Bristol

£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...

Day In a Page

Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?