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By Graham Potter | Friday, September 8, 2023

Twenty years ago, trainer Dermot Weld changed the landscape of the Melbourne Cup forever when he won the country’s signature race with his international raider Vintage Crop who was ridden by fellow Irishman Mick Kinane.

It was the first success of a European trained runner in the race and, while the idea that Northern Hemisphere trained horses could come to Australia on a smash and grab mission and take off with Australia’s most prestigious racing prize and the riches and rewards that go with it, took some time to build momentum amongst the Northern hemisphere racing fraternity, the marker had been set and it wouldn’t take long for others to follow.

As if to prove a point, Weld, equally as famously, did it again with Media Puzzle in 2002, this time win Damien Oliver in the saddle in arguably the most emotional Melbourne Cup of all with Oliver riding in his late brother Jason’s breeches, after Jason had tragically been killed in a training accident just a week prior to Melbourne Cup-day.

So, Weld’s winners have been two very significant ones in the grand history of the Cup.

Vintage Crop’s win came in the 1993 running of the big race … and, now, as we approach the thirtieth anniversary of that milestone moment, it is of no small interest to note that Dermot Weld’s name features as a trainer of one of the 132 nominations that have been received for this year’s edition of the Cup.

Go down to nomination number 52 (they are listed in alphabetical order) and you will find the name Harbour Wind, a last start winner by 3.75 lengths over 2800m in the Listed Vinnie Roe at Leopardstown on August 24, and a winner of three of his four starts to date … the horse Weld is considering bringing ‘down under’.

"I would like to have another runner in the Melbourne Cup at some stage but, as always, you have to wait for the right horse to come along,” Weld told Racing Post. “It may be a year too soon for this horse, but he's entered, and I want to see what weight he gets."

While Harbour Wind will be in action again shortly to try and improve his rating figure, which he probably needs to do to be more than just hopeful of securing a place in the Melbourne Cup line-up, Weld is unlikely to make the trip without believing Harbour Wind has a winning chance, hence his focus on what weight Harbour Wind will be given, particularly in relation to a horse Weld believes will be hard to beat.

"The key thing with regard to Melbourne is to see what weight he gets, because I have the highest regard for Willie Mullins' horse Vauban. He's a high-class stayer who is going to be very hard to beat for any horse who runs in the race," Weld said, his seasoned judgement giving punters a nice pointer into the race.

Harbour Wind and Vauban are amongst the fifteen international runners nominated for the 2023 Melbourne Cup … with, apart from Weld and Mullins, other top-tier trainers William Haggas, Aidan O’Brien and Joseph O’Brien all holding cards at this early stage of proceedings.

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