And Weld knows what he is talking about – he was a pioneer of the globe-trotting racehorse, with stars like Go and Go and Vintage Crop taking on the might of America and Australia in the Belmont Stakes and the Melbourne Cup in the early 1990s. Now 71 years old, Weld has the distinction of winning the first Invitation Bowl in Hong Kong in 1991 and is looking for another winner at the meeting.
So what about EZIYRA? Owned by the Aga Khan who has tasted success in this race in 2009 with Daryakana, she has generally been lightly raced over her career with only twelve racecourse starts to her name. As a two-year-old, she was good enough to win and place at Group level, beating Grecian Light in the G3 Park Stakes at the Curragh. Knowing the filly would be better over longer trips, Weld planned her three-year-old campaign around the Irish Oaks where she was unlucky to bump into a fairly useful filly of John Gosden’s, called Enable. EZIYRA finished third that day but then went on to record two G3 successes at Leopardstown and Cork.
Dermot Weld’s ‘no rush attitude’ continued into EZIYRA’s third racing year and she wasn’t brought out for her seasonal reappearance until August when she won the G3 Ballyroan Stakes. A win in the G2 Blandford Stakes at the Curragh in September indicated she was good enough to take on the best of the world’s mares and fillies and she booked her ticket to the Breeders Cup for the Filly and Mare Turf. Things didn’t go right at Churchill Downs and she faced trouble in running from a wide draw and could never get involved.
EZIYRA will be one of the lowest rated horses in the G1 Hong Kong Vase field, but she has been consistent and tough. Weld is justifiably proud of her, saying: “She may be one of the lowest rated in the race, but she is a very very good filly who has won five Group races and is multiple G1-placed – she was beaten by Enable in the Irish Oaks in 2017 and ran an excellent race to be third in the Yorkshire Oaks this year. She is adaptable, and I think she will represent us well at the Hong Kong International Races”.