Champion Irish trainer Dermot Weld reflected fondly on his grand galloper Vintage Crop, the 1993 Melbourne Cup winner, who died on Monday at the age of 27.
As the first internationally-trained horse to win the Melbourne Cup, Vintage Crop altered the path of the event, his victory shaping the race into the international success it as today.
Speaking on RSN on Tuesday morning Weld praised Vintage Crop as a pioneer.
“It’s a fascinating story because of all the problems that we had to get the horse to Melbourne,” Weld said.
“It was amazing, the whole thing was an amazing feat and it couldn’t have been done without this amazing horse.
“An awful lot of work had to be done to change everything to enable this horse to run in the race.
“It certainly helped anyway but I think what it did, it internationalised if I can use the word, the Melbourne Cup.
“It’s hard for maybe some Australians to appreciate or realise that it wasn’t that well known around the world and Vintage Crop more than anything really moved the Melbourne Cup to where it deserves to be and to where it is, as a major world race now.”
Vintage Crop made the journey to Australia three-times with Weld hinting his galloper was unlucky not to be a dual winner of the world’s most famous 3200m handicap.
“He would have won it the year before only it wasn’t possible to bring him there because of the quarantine rules and the flight paths, so it took us a year to get all that arranged,” he said. “It’s a long, long story.
“He came three times. The second year he was injured and the third year he came back he was third, he was a nine-year-old and he got beaten by what a neck and a-length-and-a-half by Doriemus and Nothin’ Leica Dane.
“I always thought and so did Michael Kinane, who rode him so brilliantly, he was even better the year he was third. He put up a fabulous performance, but for interference over the far side he would definitely won it for a second time.”
Vintage Crop retired after the 1995 Melbourne Cup with the outstanding record of 26 starts for 16 wins and 6 minor placings. He earned $2,165,235, which included two wins over jumps, making him one of the most versatile winners of the Cup.
“He was multi-purpose horse in those days he used to both, but then we gave up the jumping,” Weld said.
“He won the Irish St Leger (2800m) a classic two years running for us; he was the first horse in Ireland to win a million Irish pounds.
“Look, he was an amazing horse, he was very effective over much shorter distances, like he wasn’t an out-and-out stayer.”
Vintage Crop retired to Ireland where he became the main attraction at the Irish National Stud.
“The wonderful thing is he that he ended his career in style the only way it should be, he went to live in the Irish National Stud and he enjoyed his retirement,” Weld said.
“Age began to catch up with him a little bit this year but he was wonderfully taken care of and he to entertain the thousands of visitors who used to come to see him every year.
“He used to lead the parade wearing his Melbourne Cup rug, a rug isn’t even a fair description of it, it’s a fabulous garment, he would lead the parade each year at the Curragh in September before the Irish St Leger and he would just so enjoy showing off how well he looked as a 26-year-old.
“I’d really like to impress how well he was looked after in his final years it was just a joy to see him and visit him and see all the Australian people who used to come and visit with him. It’s a credit to the way he was taken care of.
“He had such courage and its courage that differentiated him from the other horses.”
Story by Sam Doran