Weir etches his name in Cup history

Darren Weir has been a dominant force in Victorian racing for the past few years, but he’s now etched his name into Australian folklore after Prince Of Penzance became one of the longest-priced winners in Melbourne Cup history.


The likeable larrikin from Berriwillock, who trains at Ballarat and Warrnambool, had come second in the Cup once before when 40-1 shot She’s Archie beat all bar Makybe Diva in the 2003 edition and he was worried that was as close as he’d get.


The punters and bookies wrote off the chances of Prince Of Penzance - his $101 price is the equal longest for a winner in Cup history and the biggest since Old Rowley in 1940.


Weir, who has won the Victorian metropolitan trainers’ premiership the past two seasons, thought Prince Of Penzance was a realistic hope of finishing in the top 10, but that was about it.


Winning the Melbourne Cup came as a complete surprise.


“It’s an unbelievable feeling - you’ve got to pinch yourself a bit,” a disbelieving Weir said afterwards.


“I keep saying to the owners it’s hard enough to get into the race, let alone win it - just enjoy the day and hope like hell we can run top 10.


“It is a lifetime dream come true.


“It’s the most unbelievable thing to happen to anyone.”


Prince of Penzance had a beautiful run in transit, settling about 10th on the rail and relaxing for jockey Michelle Payne.


Payne got on the back of Trip To Paris approaching the turn and that proved a winning move as Prince Of Penzance got a perfect cart into the race.


It was all smooth sailing from there as Prince Of Penzance ran away to beat Max Dynamite and Criterion.


Weir couldn’t believe how well his horse was travelling during the race.


“I just thought what a beautiful run the horse was getting,” he said.


“Last year I stood up and gave a couple of cheers when Signoff hit the front for about two strides and then had to sit back down so I didn’t want to go the early crow this time.


“At the furlong I was thinking ‘where’s that bloody winning post’?”


Prince Of Penzance ran second in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup last start, but had no friends in betting.


He and Sertorius were the two outsiders of the race at 100-1.


“I thought the horse was in great shape, there wouldn’t have been many horses who had better preparations than him,” Weir said.


“We’d done everything possible we can and we thought we had him here in great shape and we thought we were realistically a top-10 chance.”


The effort is even better considering the struggles the six-year-old Pentire gelding has been through.


“He’s an amazing horse,” Weir said.


“He’s had two joint surgeries and then when he was about to come in to work he got a twisted bowel so he had to have a colic operation - what an amazing horse.”


Weir also paid tribute to Payne.


“She’s a great rider, she works hard behind the scenes,” he said.


“I’ve said it before, a lot of people are not that keen to give her the opportunity in these sort of races ... it’s great to reward her.”


It’s also been a slow, but steady build for the trainer.


Weir has long been prolific around the country tracks and it’s only in the past few years he’s really made his mark in town.


Amazingly, for a trainer who has collected just under 1000 winners since the start of the 2011/12 season, this is just his 10th career Group 1 win and his sixth in Victoria.


Weir says he’s now reaping the rewards because of the team he’s got behind him.


“It’s unbelievable for all the people that I have on my side,” he said.


“All my mates who work in the office, mates that work in the stable, mates that run my Warrnambool stable and to all that magnificent staff that I have at home, we couldn’t have done it without you guys and you’ll be a part of the party, as well as I will be.


“Finally after years of trying to get systems in place and the right people working for us, we’ve got all that and now the rewards are starting to come.


“It’s a lifetime dream come true to be honest.”


For Weir, the party will be going long into the night.


Story from Racing.com – Tom Billington


Photo – Peter Morganti



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