Unlikely duo Orr and Weld stage St Leger to savour

The final Group 1 of Longines Irish Champions Weekend was a Classic in every sense

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Orr shared the Champion Apprentice title with Andrew Slattery in 2019

There are nearly 50 years of age separating Dermot Weld and Oisin Orr but when it comes to their craft, they are singing from the same racecard, writes Tom Harle. 

The revered 73-year-old Curragh trainer gave the 23-year-old from Donegal the keys to his castle and was rewarded with a ninth Irish St Leger victory. 

Icon Pat Smullen ruled the roost at Rosewell House for eons but now it’s Orr’s time to shine and he grasped it as Search For A Song retained her St Leger title. 

“Oisin gets horses to relax very well,” said Weld

“I don’t really have a number one, but Oisin is riding most of them. I do accept that. 

“He has wonderful hands and rides a very relaxed race. He fills horses with confidence and moves them on.

“I love horses getting into a rhythm and for them to be ridden nicely through to the finish. That’s what he does very well.”

Orr encouraged the reigning champion up to the furlong mark, settling alongside Roger Varian’s grey raider Fujaira Prince and Aidan O’Brien’s Sovereign.

He found the outside line ahead of Joseph O’Brien seven-year-old Twilight Payment, under Wayne Lordan, and rode on past Andrea Atezeni’s shoulder to win by two lengths. 

It was a perfectly measured performance from Orr and the horse, who became the first since Weld’s very own Vinnie Roe to win successive renewals of the race. 

He is the veteran trainer’s third repeat champion in the Classic with Vintage Crop winning it in 1993 and 1994. 

Weld drew level with Vincent O’Brien with nine St Leger triumphs and is without parallel in the modern history of the 1m6f race.

Weld said: “It's just been a special day.

“I've trained her for the day for a long time. I also wanted to get that Group 1 into her in case people thought she was only a staying mare.

“The filly that beat her in the Gold Cup was Magical, so I was quietly confident she'd win today.”

It was a dream day for Weld whose filly Tarnawa won the Grand Prix Vermeille at Longchamp, making it two Group 1s inside an hour or so. 

Not that the trainer will be getting carried away.

“How will I celebrate? With a very nice cup of tea and a very nice dinner.”

Oisin fills horses with confidence

- Dermot Weld

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